By Nick Patience
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
held its closed board meeting in Berlin yesterday, concluding
three days of public and private meetings. There are few
surprises in the decisions it reached, but the spat over the
creation of a constituency to represent non-commercial domain
name holders has resulted in the board delaying recognition of
the constituency for a while longer.
Esther Dyson, chair of the interim ICANN board says the board
hopes the various factions within the nascent non-commercial
domain name holder's constituency (NCDNH) will have resolved
their differences by next month, and at that point the board
will recognize the NCDNH constituency. The other six
constituencies that will make up ICANN's domain name supporting
organization (DNSO), which presented proposals at this week's
meeting, have all been recognized by the board. They are
country-code registries; commercial and business entities;
generic domain registries; ISPs; registrars; and trademark
intellectual property and anti-counterfeiting interests. There
is no agreement yet to form an eighth constituency representing
individuals, due to the lack of a non-commercial constituency.
That constituency could house individuals as well, although
that is looking unlikely at this point. Overall Dyson says she
feels "more cheerful" about the meetings than previously, and
says that now "more people want to make it [ICANN] work than
throw a spanner in the works."
The board is going to ask Network Solutions Inc to only send
one representative to the DNSO's names council, rather than the
three to which it is entitled. Each of the seven constituencies
has three representatives on the names council, which will act
as the DNSO's steering committee. But as NSI is still the only
company in charge of generic top-level domains (gTLDs), the
gTLD constituency obviously comprises just NSI. Dyson warns
that if NSI does not agree to do this, ICANN's board will
change its bylaws to make it happen. The other two seats will
not be filled until the gTLD registry market is opened up.
On the issue of geographic diversity, the board has decided to
waive its requirement for the constituencies that asked for it,
while on the other hand it still wants them and everybody else
to know that it still feels the issue is vitally important.
People trying to establish the gTLD, ccTLD and trademark and
intellectual property interests asked for this provision. Dyson
says the board has a difficult balance to strike between being
flexible "without appearing to be arbitrary."
In other decisions made yesterday, the board basically accepted
the proposal put forward to form the protocol supporting
organization (PSO) that was presented by John Klensin of MCI
Worldcom Inc and developed by the Internet Engineering Task
Force (IETF). The address supporting organization (ASO), is
slightly further behind, but Dyson says the board hopes to get
that resolved buy the next ICANN meeting, scheduled for
Santiago from August 24-26.
On the issue of membership, Dyson says the board is pleased
with the recommendations it got from its membership advisory
council (MAC), but now the ICANN staff will look at what it
will actually mean, logistically and financially to implement a
membership structure. While not insisting on there being some
minimum number if members before they can actually vote, Dyson
says the board is conscious that ICANN needs a "real
membership." There was some talk of a 5,000 minimum being set,
but nothing has been decided yet.
The board accepted much of the recent report by the World
Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on the management of
the domain name system, but intends to leave the specifics of
what to adopt and what not to adopt to the DNSO. Dyson says the
WIPO recommendation for full contact information for domain
name registrants and some other provisions are already in the
ICANN bylaws but she notes in particular the importance of a
dispute resolution mechanism that can be
applied across all gTLDs, which is one of the key WIPO
Finally the board approved the ICANN budget for the fiscal year
beginning July 1, 1999. It forecasts total revenues of $5.9m,
made up of $5.0m in dues and fees from registries and
registrars; $100,000 in accreditation fees and $700,000 in
grants and contributions, with $100,000 coming from other
unidentified sources. It expects expenditure for executive and
staff compensation, professional and technical services, public
meeting and travel expenses and administration coming to $4.2m.
Equipment purchases of $100,000 and contingency, reserve and
prior year loss makes it up to $5.9m.