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Dyson: Open ICANN meeting worked

Domain name group passes measures on cybersquatting, sits on proposal for direct policy input from individuals.
Written by Maria Seminerio, Contributor

During its first-ever public voting session, held in Santiago, Chile, this week, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) passed measures on dispute resolution and on expanding policy input from outside groups. But a proposal to guarantee individual Internet users a vote on ICANN policy was deferred until the group's next meeting in November.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the nonprofit manager of the Internet's domain name addressing system, agreed last month to open the session to the public even though several board members opposed the move. Speaking to ZDNN via phone from Santiago after the meeting, ICANN Interim Chairwoman Esther Dyson was pleased with the results.

"The meeting was open, and the openness worked," Dyson said.

ICANN on Thursday approved a measure to finalise a dispute resolution policy within 45 days on issues such as cybersquatting -- when one company buys a Web address containing a name or trademark of another company and offers to sell it back at a premium price. Public comment will be taken before the policy is put into place. Also approved was a resolution to form a new constituency of noncommercial entities, such as schools and nonprofit organisations, which will be allowed to give policy input.

But ICANN board members said during the meeting that more basic work must be done before they can consider a proposal for taking policy input from individuals.

According to documents posted on the ICANN site, board members said they first must finish forming the membership arm that will include the nonbusiness entities before it can look at a proposal to take direct policy input from individuals. That proposal is to be considered at a meeting scheduled for November in Los Angeles. ICANN critics such as Jay Fenello, president of independent domain name registrar Iperdome, said this is unacceptable.

"There's little in my opinion that's going to change, regardless of what happened at this meeting," Fenello said in an interview Thursday. Fenello once served as a consultant to Network Solutions "This board certainly appears to have a preordained agenda, and it has shown a contempt for individuals" wanting a say in domain name policy, he said.

ICANN was formed by the US Department of Commerce last year to oversee the globalisation of the domain name allocation system. The agency charged ICANN with breaking up the monopoly formerly held by Network Solutions over registering Web addresses in the so-called top-level domains -- .com, .net and .org.

But in spite of the controversy, ICANN's Dyson said the group is committed to a democratic process. The group is still so new, and the issues facing it are so complex, that extending policy input to individuals will simply take more time, she said. Asked to sum up the impact of the board's latest moves regarding consumers and small businesses wanting to register domain names, Dyson said, "There is a consumer impact here in that when you go to register a domain name, we're trying to offer more predictability."

The upcoming dispute-resolution process will aim to eliminate the problems posed by cybersquatting and ensure that copyright holders keep names that are rightfully theirs, she said. "The goal is that if we do our job right, you won't notice us at all," Dyson said.

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