The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a branch of the U.S. Commerce Department is accepting comments on the fate of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization that supervises Internet domain names.
The deadline for comments is Friday, 21 July 2006 and they are due to be incorporated into a public meeting on ICANN's transition on July 26.
The U.S. government had pledged in 1997 to privatize ICANN, a nonprofit organization based in California, and invite more international participation in its policy making.
The Commerce Department has had agreements with ICANN since 1998 concerning its transition, and the latest agreement expires Sept. 30. ICANN's position in both the administration of the Internet and location within the U.S. has made it a target for criticism and it has been widely criticized for falling under the control of the U.S. government.
Companies that manage country-code Top Level Domain (ccTLDs) have charged that ICANN has not been transparent enough in its governance practices. Those disputes have only recently been resolved, with seven registries making arrangements to work with ICANN over the last two months.
The U.S., while pledging cooperation, has also asserted the large role it will continue to play, citing the need for stability and security in light of Internet commerce. In July 2005, the U.S. had said that it would not take any action that would have the potential to adversely impact the effective and efficient operation of the DNS.
ICANN's jurisdiction includes oversight of the 13 root servers worldwide that match top level domain names with numeric addresses needed to serve Web pages. It also has the power to approve new top level domains, such as ".tel" approved in May, and technical policy making crucial to the functioning of the Internet.