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Username: jandl
Date/Time: Wed, April 18, 2001 at 9:38 PM GMT (Wed, April 18, 2001 at 5:38 PM EDT)
Browser: Microsoft Internet Explorer V5.5 using Windows 98
Subject: Media coverage re: GA


           This was published in the Washington Internet Daily.
      "copyrighted by Warren Communications News (202-872-9200, and posted by permission."

‘Little Downside’

Some in Names Council Support TLD Task Force

Momentum is building for a task force to examine the implications to the Internet community from col-liding top-level domain names (TLDs). Responding to a request from Danny Younger, the newly elected chmn. of the Domain Name Supporting Organization’s (DNSO) General Assembly (GA), for a working group on TLD colliders (WID April 16 p1), Names Council (NC) Chmn. Philip Sheppard said he would schedule the matter for discussion “in the first instance.” Sheppard asked Younger in a Fri. e-mail to lay out the background of the problem and an analysis of the issue as it might affect both net users and consumers as well as registries and root owners.

Concern has grown over the possibility of identically named TLDs crashing in cyberspace since the ICANN Board approved a new “.biz” TLD last November. The AtlanticRoot Network Inc. (ARNI), a root server operat-ing independently of the U.S. Govt. (USG) root which runs a .biz TLD, has strongly criticized the action, saying it will create consumer confusion online and drive ARNI out of business (WID Feb 9 p3). Then, last month, opened 20 new TLDs, 17 of which we’re told duplicate existing TLDs (WID March 13 p5). Beyond the problem of confusion on the Web, some alternate root servers say, colliding TLDs could pose serious threats to e-mail and privacy.

Over the weekend, some NC members indicated they would back Younger’s request. In postings on the
DNSO discussion list, Syracuse U. Prof. Milton Mueller, who also is NC representative from the Noncommercial Domain Name Holders Constituency, said he supported the idea of a working group, “fully understanding that the debate on this topic often takes the form of a religious war and that it is unlikely that any coherent policy would come out of such a working group soon.” There’s “little downside” to a study, he said: “At worst, the group will waste bandwidth and time and accomplish nothing.”

The “relevance of this topic is clear” given the election of a co-founder of the Top Level Domain Assn. (a
trade association of TLD owners in alternate roots) as alternate GA chmn., Registrar Constituency NC representative Erica Roberts said. However, she said, the key question is what guidance the task force should be given.

Three basic options should be considered, Mueller wrote: (1) Ignore already existing TLDs. (2) Avoid assigning any TLDs that conflict with them. (3) Find some technical or procedural way on coordinating with them or incorporating them in the ICANN root. What a working group shouldn’t do, he said, is rule on the legitimacy or illegitimacy of a particular claim to a TLD. “That’s a rathole we don’t need to go down,” Mueller said.

While opposition to his request “is certainly within the realm of possibility,” Younger told us, “I would hope that concern about the stability of the Internet is sufficient cause to prompt discussion of the is-sues.”

- Dugie Standeford


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