US Government to probe domain name registration

The US Government Justice Department is to investigate whether the Internet naming process violates anti-trust legislation.

Network Solutions Inc., the company responsible for handing out second-level domain names in the popular '.com' domain, has received requests for documents from the Department of Justice, the company revealed last week in papers filed with the Securities and Exchange Commissions.

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department told ZDNN US: "We're looking at the possibility of anti-competitive practices in the Internet address registration industry".

Problems have arisen with domain name registration as competition intensifies to secure names and acronyms for the Internet. Many British companies that wished to secure the more international suffix '.com', because of the international nature of their business have found that the '.com' name they wanted had already been allocated to an American company with the same, or similar name. Many of these companies have been forced to accept the '' suffix against their wishes.

Network Solutions has struggled to cope with surging demand for Internet addresses, dozens of lawsuits arising from alleged trademark infringements in address names, and difficulty collecting fees from some Internet users.

The solution to the domain name shortage is likely to lie beyond the jurisdiction of the US Department of Justice, requiring international agreement between telcos, ISPs, and governments. A possible fix is currently being brokered by international telco federations to agree on a new set of classifications that will describe the area of activity of an organisation, for example '.info' for media companies.