VeriSign, the company responsible for managing all top-level domain names around the world, has shut down its own discussion forum, claiming that there are plenty of other forums available for users.
The announcement has been criticised by users who suggest that VeriSign terminated the service because it had been used to voice complaints that the company was in a monopoly position.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) recently extended VeriSign's sole administration rights for .com addresses until 2007.
A message went up last week on the VeriSign Domain Policy newsgroup saying: "This list will be closed effective immediately. When we started the list many years ago, there were no lists specifically focusing on domain policy issues. Today, there are a wide range of public lists that address this topic."
Brian O'Shaughnessy, a spokesman for the company, denied that the list had been closed because it was becoming a hotbed of criticism of VeriSign's "monopoly" position.
"VeriSign had more of a monopoly back in 1996 when the list was started," he said. "Back then we had 100 per cent of the market, now we have about 50 per cent. People have no historical perspective on this."
Icannwatch.org, a user website created to allow users to voice opinions on domain name policy, posted a statement today saying: "While it's true that there are other places to discuss domain name issues, pulling the plug in this way removes archives from the reach of internet historians."
Icannwatch acknowledged that VeriSign has no obligation to host a mailing list for critics, but said that the "decent thing to do would be to leave up the archives, and to make the subscriber list available to a suitable volunteer host if one materialises".
The original list was started in 1996 by Network Solutions, the company previously in control of top-level domain names before VeriSign bought it out.
Icannwatch pointed out that other discussion forums are available through its own and Icann's official websites.
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