Radical US government proposals for the future management of Internet domain names will be released this week, according to President Clinton's senior Internet adviser, Ira Magaziner.
Magaziner, speaking at the opening of the TMAB 98 trade show in Brussels, said the white paper on governance of the Internet, which has been held up by White House lawyers, will call for the establishment of an industry led, international domain name authority.
The proposals are expected to make major concessions to the European Union, which has been arguing that previous US plans gave too little influence to other countries.
"For historical reasons the US government has been involved in the management of the Internet. We are now moving the government out of that process," Magaziner said.
"We think that the Internet is better governed by a decentralised, stakeholder approach. We propose a private, internationally nominated, non-profit organisation, as opposed to any type of governmental body," he added.
Magaziner said the new 'domain name board' will comprise 15 representatives from the international Internet community, with one member nominated to be chief executive. There will be no national quotas for representation on the board.
"Our contracts with Network Solutions (NSI) and the IANA (the existing domain name management authorities) will terminate at the end of September, so our intention is to get the new body up and running, and the US government out of the loop, as soon as possible," Magaziner went on.
The new body will have a clearly defined function, and should not be seen as a supreme regulator for the Internet. Magaziner said: "The Internet is so strong because it is free, regulating it would be a mistake, and probably impossible."
The new authority's tasks will be limited to four areas - the overall management of the domain name system, the allocation of numbers to the regional registries that actually issue domain names, management of the top level root server computers and the coordination of new IP initiatives.
Magaziner said he would be discussing the US proposals with the European Commissioner for IT and telecomms policy, Martin Bangemann, who was one of the most vocal critics of a US green paper published in February.
"The green paper had some significant weaknesses in the way it transmitted our opinions, and that was our fault. But that is why you have a draft, and now we think we have addressed the majority of the EU's concerns," Magaziner said.
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