Australian domain name registrar Melbourne IT has weighed in to the debate over ICANN domain name registration charges, declaring that the regulatory body needs to charge the fees in order to maintain its independence.
Internet Coalition for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the new, non-profit body charged with administering the registration of top-level domain names such as .com, .org and .net.
ICANN had requested that all new global domain registrars pay the new body a fee of US$1 per year for each domain name registered. The fee proved to be highly unpopular with many in the U.S. where ICANN was accused of acting outside of its powers. The domain name regulatory body has backed away from the fee following pressure from the US Department of Commerce, backed by the US Congress which had seen the fee as a de facto 'Net tax'.
ICANN was established to administer the registration of top-level domain names, which were previously controlled as a monopoly by US based InterNic. Under the new arrangement top-level domain name registration has been deregulated and will be administered by ICANN, but sold through a number of domain registries throughout the world, including AOL, FranceTelecom, Melbourne IT and Register.com.
ICANN will play a vital role
Despite the controversy, the fee is seen by many as a way to ensure the independence of ICANN and separate it from the influence of U.S. political issues. Melbourne IT's CEO, Professor Peter Gerrand said that his organisation feels that the fee is essential to the long-term viability of ICANN.
"It is in Australia's interest to strongly support ICANN as a truly global governance body, and to avoid it becoming the captive of US sectional interests through weakness in its funding base," Mr Gerrand stated.
Gerrand said that as one of the peak Internet regulatory bodies that ICANN will play a vital role in the development of the Internet.
"The growth and sustainability of the Internet depends vitally upon the continued existence of ICANN as the ultimate governance body for Internet naming and addressing," he stated. "ICANN needs continuing sources of revenue in order to carry out its essential functions, and it is appropriate that the majority of this income comes from the registrars of relevant domain names and Internet protocol addresses.
Melbourne IT has now committed to voluntarily paying the registration fee and feels that it is a reasonable charge according to Gerrand.
"The ICANN fee we have already agreed to pay in return for our .com test-bed registrar license is utterly reasonable, and we propose to voluntarily continue to pay this US$2 (for each two year registration) per domain name fee to ICANN."