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[registrars] The Economist on ICANN

  • To: Registrars Constituency <registrars@xxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: [registrars] The Economist on ICANN
  • From: "Robert F. Connelly" <BobC@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 29 Apr 2005 06:03:33 -0700
  • Sender: owner-registrars@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

<font face="Verdana">Dear Registrars:&nbsp; A long time friend from Japan
forwarded the following to me.<br><br>
Recognize that The Economist is European and shows a WSIS bias.&nbsp;
Regards, BobC<br><br>
Internet addresses<br><br>
The name game<br>
Apr 14th 2005<br>
 From The Economist print edition<br><br>
An online power struggle<br><br>
IT IS not easy running the internet's address system. Since it was
founded in 1998, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
(ICANN), a self-regulatory body, has been under constant fire from
critics on all sides. As it held a public board meeting last week in
Argentina, it found itself grappling controversially with two new
The first concerns a new domain called .pro­a rival to .com and others,
intended for professionals, such as lawyers and doctors. Registrants are
supposed to show professional credentials. But soon after last June's
launch of .pro, a firm handling registrations exploited a loophole to
?lease? names to otherwise unqualified people. Thus, sex.pro­and every
imaginable sex-inspired term­is alive on the web.<br><br>
ICANN has complained to the firm, and says it will inspect the
contractual agreements to see what it can do to enforce compliance. How
ICANN exercises such powers will be closely scrutinised in light of two
new domains that it authorised at last week's board meeting, .jobs and
The second dispute is about .net, which accounts for around 5.5m domain
names (see chart) and around 30% of webpage views. The contract with
VeriSign, the firm that administers .net, expires in June and is out to
tender. ICANN used an independent examiner to evaluate the bids, and
ranked VeriSign's the best. Yet the examiner, Telcordia, has disclosed
financial ties to, and rivalries with, some bidders, prompting questions
about its fairness. ICANN says it will examine these complaints as it
negotiates with VeriSign.<br><br>
The two controversies call into question whether ICANN, as a
private-sector body with only light governmental representation, is up to
the task of managing the internet's domain name system and whether the
United Nations (UN) should take over­which it wants to do. The UN has set
up a working group, due to report this summer, on the role that nations
ought to play in managing the internet.<br><br>
Last year, VeriSign unilaterally sought to commercialise a technical
process related to .com that created problems for some users. ICANN
ordered VeriSign to stop. In turn, the firm sued ICANN, questioning its
authority. Letting VeriSign continue to run .net may allow ICANN to turn
an enemy into an ally at a time when it faces challenges to its
In the end, although no one is particularly satisfied with the job being
done by ICANN, its best defence is that the main alternative­handing over
the internet's critical infrastructure to an intergovernmental
cacophony­would surely be worse. <br><br>

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