The Domain Name Game

Black Issues in Higher Education, October 28, 1999 | Go to article overview

The Domain Name Game


WASHINGTON - The cash-strapped group assuming management of much of the Internet agreed this month to allow a Virginia company to continue for at least four years as keeper of the master list of World Wide Web addresses in exchange for a $1.25 million payment.

Praised by participants as a landmark in the 30-year history of the Internet, the complex settlement aims to resolve the most contentious arguments surrounding transition of control over the Web from the federal government to the California-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

Still, the impact on typical Internet consumers was negligible in that the agreement involved largely the behind-the-scenes management of technical issues and standards. Organizers said there would have been serious problems had the talks failed.

"We think it's clear there would have been significant risk of disruption to electronic commerce, to the growth of the Internet ... if there was instability and controversy," says Andrew Pincus, general counsel for the U.S. Department of Commerce, which helped coordinate the settlement.

Executives at Network Solutions Inc., the world's largest seller of Internet addresses, promised they will recognize the California group's authority over the Web, a festering issue during negotiations that started last year.

U.S. Sec. of Commerce William Daley said he was pleased that Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and Network Solutions "worked this out at the negotiating table and not at tables in a courtroom. …

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