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U.S. Airs Plan to Privatize Net Addresses

From Times Wire Services

The Clinton administration released Friday its long-awaited plan for phasing out U.S. government involvement in running the Internet’s naming and address system.

If enacted, the plan would turn over management of the system to the private sector, stimulate competition for registering new addresses and ease the squeeze on desirable monikers by creating five new top-level domains.

The 15-page “discussion draft” also suggested ending the monopoly for registering Internet addresses held by Network Solutions Inc. The Herndon, Va., company would maintain control of its vast database of names but would have to allow competitors to add new names as well.

Under an exclusive contract expiring this year, Network Solutions registers all names in the Internet’s popular generic top-level domains of .com, .org and .net. Every site on the Internet is assigned to a top-level domain.

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Most Internet users would see few changes if the plan were adopted.

Under the Clinton plan, still subject to a brief public comment period, five new registries would each control a database for addresses in one of the five new domains. But many firms could compete to register new addresses in the databases. The plan did not suggest new domain names.

The plan also recommended creating a nonprofit corporation based in the United States to take over management of the numerical address system underlying the naming system. The corporation would be run by a board of Internet organizations and users from around the world.

The numerical system is now run by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority at USC under a contract with the Defense Department.

Debate over the Internet’s name and address system has been raging for several years since the head of IASA, Jon Postel, announced his own plan to add more addresses.


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