Icann refines its role in internet governance

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), the group which oversees internet technical matters, promoted...

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), the group which oversees internet technical matters, promoted its accomplishments at a meeting in Kuala Lumpar, as it seeks to refine its role in internet governance and become a self-governing entity.

Topping that list of accomplishments was the group's approval of its 2004-2005 budget, which is set to grow from $8.3m (£4.5m) this year to $15.83m for the period covering 1 July to 30 June 2005, said Icann chairman Vint Cerf. 

"What is left is to finalise how that money will be contributed by the various constituencies," Cerf said.

In early May, as part of the boost in its budget, Icann raised the fees it charges domain registrars and said it has launched an aggressive effort to find alternative sources of funds as it prepares for self-rule.

The moved angered various groups such as Icann's partner, the Council of European National Top Level Domain Registries (CENTR) which called Icann's contribution request "unrealistic and inappropriate".

Icann, a global non-profit organisation established in October of 1998 is, through the auspices of the US Department of Commerce (DOC), responsible for co-ordinating the internet's root server system, generic and country code top-level domain (TLD) name system management and IP (Internet Protocol) address space allocation.

Last September, the group signed a three-year memorandum of understanding with the DOC's National Telecommunications and Information Administration that, among other things, set out 24 stipulations to be completed that would allow Icann to be completely independent and have full control over the US root server infrastructure.

"It is important to point out that we have now completed seven of those 24 different tasks that we need to finish," Cerf said. He added that the group was able to conclude the meeting with a "wonderful collection of achievements".

One of those achievements - as well as one of those 24 tasks - was accomplished earlier in the week, when Icann announced it had expanded the availability of IP addresses by adding next-generation IPv6 technology to its root DNS (domain name system) servers.

The TLDs of Japan and Korea (.jp and .kr) became the first to support IPv6, and France is expected to follow shortly.

Cerf and Icann president and chief executive officer Paul Twomey also hailed Icann's policy co-ordination body, the Country-Code Names Supporting Organisation (CCNSO).

The CCNSO was established as a way for national communities to have influence in Icann, but some European countries, including the UK, have refused to join the group, because off Icann's refusal to spin off as an independent entity the group that manages the root machines on the network, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).

However, Twomey said he sees a growing acceptance of the CCNSO. "People have come up to me [during the meeting] to say that they plan on joining the CCNSO," he said.

The meeting in Kuala Lumpur also brought the creation of an Icann advisory group on the use of Internationalised Domain Names within the domain name system to further internet growth in new languages and regions of the world.

Icann also highlighted its acknowledgement of AfriNIC, the emerging African regional internet address registry, calling the group's request for formal recognition from Icann, a historical event in local control of African internet resources.

Laura Rohde writes for IDG News Service

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