Friday, June 5, 1998 Published at 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
US releases Net naming plan
Future decisions left to non-profit group
The US has released its long-awaited final plan to overhaul the Internet's naming system.
But it has scrapped earlier proposals to quickly add more names to the system.
As expected, the Clinton administration plans to phase out government involvement in the domain name system (DNS) by the end of September 2000.
But specific proposals to extend the system or dictate how it should function in the future have been scaled back.
In the future all decisions about expanding the system will be left up to a new US-based non-profit group headed by 15 people selected from private-sector, Internet and consumer groups.
The plan seeks to resolve the controversy over management of some of the Internet's most basic functions, including the assignment and registration of names for World Wide Web sites.
Global co-operation sought
At the moment the US company, Network Solutions, manages the naming system in the Internet's popular generic domains .com, .org and .net under an exclusive government contract that expires in September.
Plans to create immediate competition to Network Solutions have been dropped. But the US Government said it is continuing to negotiate with the company to assure a level playing field for potential future competitors.
The policy statement says that a "new, not-for-profit corporation formed by private sector Internet stakeholders to administer policy for the Internet name and address system" would take over the functions currently performed by Network Solutions Incorporated (NSI) and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which also administers names and the Internet Protocol (IP) numbers they represent (for example, http://news.bbc.co.uk is equivalent to its unique IP number of http://126.96.36.199)
In a response to critics who said the United States was trying to dominate the Internet with its proposals, the policy statement emphasises that the private sector is being handed over control of the system and the new body would have a global representation.
"The new corporation should be headquartered in the United States....it should however have a board of directors from around the world," it said.
Becky Burr, Associate Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said at a press conference that the new corporation should be up and running by October 1st and fully functional by October 2000.
She said that the change would eventually mean "more choice, more innovation, better services and lower prices" for the consumer.