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Domain name fury leaves Europe ostracised

Icann throws toys out of the pram...
Written by Sally Watson, Contributor

Icann throws toys out of the pram...

Icann has threatened to freeze out several European countries unless they toe the line over domain name control. The internet governing body has rejected calls to put the country-code domain system on a professional footing, despite attempts by several European registries to force Icann into providing a service contract. Icann CEO Stuart Lynn told silicon.com that such a move is impossible. "We're not going to talk about contracts. Our lawyers have advised that it would open us up to liability, which we are not prepared to do," he said. "The system depends on the cooperative work of dedicated volunteers. It has grown this far without assuming liability. Why does liability have to be linked with good service?" The issue hinges on the management of the root server, the underlying database for the registration and management of domain names worldwide. The central root server is currently run by private firm Network Solutions, the 12 other dispersed servers are maintained by a group of volunteers. Controlled by the US government, the root system will not be handed over to Icann until it has formalised its relationship with country-code registries. It is this process of rubber stamping a previously informal relationship that has proved the sticking point. UK registry Nominet has threatened to withdraw any funding of Icann unless the organisation puts the system on a professional footing and provides service guarantees. According to Lynn, the rebel registries have the power to break the stalemate at any time. Icann is ready to draw up agreements once they accept that it won't be a formal contract, he claimed. "We certainly have our differences," he said, "but those are not differences that are going to be bridged. We are not going to enter into a contract." Until the rebels fall into line Icann will focus its attention elsewhere. "We're working hard with a number of individual countries which are very interested in signing the sort of agreements we are talking about," Lynn said, "and we will be concentrating on them."
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