The US government is withholding support for international proposals on managing Internet addresses, while it considers alternatives. At the heart of the latest debate on this thorny issue lies a proposed shift of responsibility from a US state authority to an international body.
In April a proposal for managing the structure and licensing of Internet domain names was finalised by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the United Nations body responsible for overseeing telecomms policies. This proposal would shift control of domain names to a Geneva-based organisation made up of national government representatives.
A US State Department representative told the ITU on 26 June that a number of options for Top Level Domain (TLD) names were being considered and the US government was not endorsing the ITU?s proposal at this time.
The ITU proposal would increase the number of TLDs - the suffixes such as .com that categorise Net addresses - and open up the now lucrative business of registering new addresses to many parties. TLDs and other Internet policies are currently overseen by the government-backed National Science Foundation in the US, which gave a sole contract to US company Network Solutions to handle name registrations until next year.
Network Solutions, along with a number of computer companies and US politicians, are opposing the shift of responsibility to the ITU-promoted body as unstable and over-bureaucratic.
?A small elitist policy group known as the IAHC (Internet Ad Hoc Committee), with motives to dictate overall Internet authority, wants to establish legal control outside the US courts, beyond the reach and appeal of most businesses,? said a statement from Network Solutions.
Now the US government?s Commerce Department has asked for public comment on the future of domain name registration. This is due to run until 18 August, making a decision on the ITU?s proposals unlikely until after that time, potentially further delaying a resolution to the issue.
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