Congratulations World Thoughts you made the news.
Internet Oversight Group Plans
to Expand Web Address System
Marina del Rey, California, Nov. 12 (Bloomberg)
-- The global Internet oversight group is ready to expand the Web address system
this week, ending the dominance of VeriSign Inc. while prompting charges of impropriety
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers aims to
introduce new Internet suffixes, called domains, to complement .com, .net and .org.
The group wants to add one-word, easy-to- remember Web addresses and create more
competition in the business of maintaining databases that make the Internet work.
Its process has Internet users crying foul, saying the group is pandering to large
corporations and abandoning principles it outlined to decide. Staff narrowed a list
of several dozen proposed suffixes to about 14 favorable bids, virtually eliminating
a .xxx or .kids domain to shield children from adult- oriented content and giving
high marks to a bid made by a group of large companies.
``Your bias, your inconsistency,
your distortions, your hypocrisy, your blatant attempt at conveying errors as though
they were facts ... your vested interests, the impropriety that shapes your actions
and decisions ... are all a matter of public record,'' one commenter using the screen
name World Thoughts said on Icann's Web site. The commenter's identity couldn't be
An applicant, .Kids Domains Inc., was harsher, issuing a press release
Friday headlined ``Icann Staff Report Abandons Children on the Internet.''
Tensions could intensify as Icann convenes its annual meeting
in Marina del Rey, California, tomorrow. It expects more than 800 attendees, most
with strong opinions about the various new domains.
Domains control how Web users
get to specific sites, functioning as a telephone directory. When a user types in
a Web address, the request travels to a host computer over a network and then to
the server containing the registry of domains. The registered name is linked to a
multiple digit number that tells the computer where to find the Web site. The process
takes a few seconds.
Suffixes such as .com, .net, and .org exist to make the system
friendlier for users, much like the area code in a telephone number.
Simple Web addresses have almost run out, forcing site creators to string together
multiple words when picking a name. About 40,000 words exist in English, yet more
than 20 million Web sites are registered using the .com suffix. Hence, the need for
New domains also would create rivals for VeriSign, which bought
Network Solutions Inc., the first company to register Web addresses. It controls
the database for .com, .org and .net, giving it unequaled power over the Internet.
It can raise prices and change registration requirements at any time.
44 complete applications from businesses and organizations around the world, including
Novell Inc., Diebold Inc. and the World Health Organization, each paying $50,000
to apply. Icann has declined to specify how many new address domains it will adopt,
saying only it plans to accept a limited number. Likely candidates include .web,
.biz, .ecom or .info for general topics; .nom, .per, or .i for personal home pages;
and .health, .museum or .union for specific content.
board, with 19 members operating by consensus, will act Thursday on the issue and
is free to ignore the staff recommendations. The new domains likely will become operational
in the second quarter next year, Icann staff told reporters on a conference call
The oversight body, charged by the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1998
to manage the domain system, says it wants to ensure that the companies and organizations
have technical and financial expertise to manage a new database.
Hundreds of comments
posted on Icann's Web forum and press releases from applicants have objected to the
direction being taken by Icann.
Closely held Image Online Design Inc. in San Luis
Obispo, California, is one such commentator. It is competing against a consortium
of 19 companies, including VeriSign, known as Afilias LLC to gain control of the
Image Online runs a .web domain outside the main Internet server,
and has registered about 20,000 sites. The company failed to win positive feedback
from Icann staff, unlike Afilias. Some Web comments say backing Afilias's bid would
boost VeriSign's power and hurt competition.
``ICANN's report seriously misrepresents
the technical and financial merits of IOD's application,'' said Chief Technology
Officer Christopher Ambler. The report ``includes misinformed criticism as well as
several outright errors.''
Icann has also been berated for rejecting
.kids and xxx. Most Web users want .xxx to segregate pornography, according to a
recent online poll by MSNBC, the news network owned by General Electric Co. and Microsoft
Corp. The .kids domain ranked sixth in that poll.
Icann staff said such restricted-content
domains pose too many problems. ``Who is a kid? What content is appropriate? Who
decides?'' the report said of .kids domain. With .xxx, Icann said pornographers couldn't
be forced to move their sites to the new area.
Such lively and free-ranging debate
is what Icann -- born of Internet principles and no stranger to controversy -- wants.
The group created several opportunities for people to express their opinions.
While it assessed applications, Icann received more than 4,000 comments online --
a record for the organization. Spirited debate is expected this week.
a test process,'' said Andrew McLaughlin, Icann's chief policy and financial officer.
``We feel the way we're going about this is the best path forward in an imperfect
Nov/12/2000 15:49 ET
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