ICANN gets its contract renewed

With an eye on the international community, Commerce renews ICANN's contract to manage the DNS system.

The Commerce Dept.'s exclusive contract with ICANN to oversee key technical questions for the Internet will be renewed as a sole-source contract, the Washington Post reports.

"We continue to believe ICANN is uniquely qualified to perform the services," said Ranjit de Silva, a spokesman for the department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

... "The people in the government have one eye on the domestic situation, where the Internet is the American flag," said Michael D. Gallagher, a former assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information who is now a partner at the law firm Perkins Coie LLP. "Internationally, we can't appear too strong or too much in charge, because that's exactly what drives the international community to distraction."

The contract is a one-year base contract with four one-year options. Other groups can appeal but analysts suggest ICANN is the only group that can really do the job. While there have been calls for reform of ICANN, the contract represents a stay-the-course strategy.

"Most people in the Internet space believe that despite its flaws, ICANN is the only organization that could conceivably fill its role in the Internet management space," said David McGuire, a spokesman for the Center for Democracy & Technology, a Washington public policy group that often is critical of the government.

"We would like to see ICANN get better, we would like to see ICANN become more transparent and more representative . . . but we tend to agree that ICANN is the only reasonable option at this point for managing the Internet's domain name system," he said.

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