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EDITIONS
Saturday, 15 February, 2003, 07:50 GMT
Battle for the heart of the net
Relay race, Eyewire
The handover of net admin is causing a row
Net overseers are up in arms over a US Government decision to renew a contract that gives controversial organisation Icann the right to run the net.

Instead of inviting bids from other net groups to run the net's core addressing system the US Department of Commerce has simply extended Icann's hold for a further three years.

European and US net firms have criticised the decision and say they could do a much better job of running the net's core address system.

Firms are now lobbying for the chance to take over the addressing system.

Contract bridge

Icann, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, was created in late 1998 to take over the net oversight functions that previously lay with the US Government.

The Iana function is one of the key internet administrative functions, and helps insure the stability, security, and reliability of the internet

Carl Malamud, Internet Multicasting Service
The corporation was supposed to help the administration of the net become more international and open.

One of Icann's main tasks is overseeing the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority that holds master lists of who runs which domain. For example, in Britain Nominet runs the .uk domain.

The contract covering Iana administration is due for renewal in April this year.

In late January the US Department of Commerce announced its intention to simply let Icann carry on administering Iana under a single-source, no-fee contract.

European and US firms have condemned the decision and said such an important job should be the subject of competitive bids.

Voices of criticism

One of the first to criticise the decision was Willie Black, chairman of Nominet.

Mr Black said Iana should be split from Icann to separate the organisations administrative role from its policy-making job.

Carl Malamud, head of the Internet Multicasting Service, issued an open letter asking the Department of Commerce to reconsider.

"The Iana function is one of the key internet administrative functions, and helps insure the stability, security, and reliability of the internet," he wrote.

Mr Malamud said the techniques Iana used to administer its database had not changed in 20 years and were sorely in need of updating.

He said the IMS wants a chance to bid for the Iana job.

Centr, the organisation that represents administrators of European domains, said its too was interested in running Iana because its members made up a significant proportion of the organisations held in the database.

See also:

01 Nov 02 | Technology
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31 Oct 02 | Technology
05 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
14 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
28 Jan 03 | Technology
23 Oct 02 | Technology
01 Nov 02 | Technology
Links to more Technology stories are at the foot of the page.


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