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PSINet: Stop domain name rush

PSINet wants the International Ad Hoc Committee to stop its "mad rush" to enforce a plan endorsed by international groups in Geneva last week.

Internet provider PSINet wants the main player in the online domain-name game to halt its "mad rush" to enforce a plan endorsed by international groups in Geneva last week.

The major Internet provider Friday released a white paper that suggests the International Ad Hoc Committee (IAHC) is hurriedly pushing through its Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) without gaining adequate input from the Net community, including users.

The MoU was signed by 57 organizations at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on Thursday, and lays out a plan to add seven new categories such as ".firm" and ".web" to the Net's store of global top-level domains, like ".com".

The plan also aims to create competition in registering domain names, which are currently available only from a U.S. government-assisted monopoly.

"We supported the creation of the committee and we gave them a recommendation on how to proceed," said PSINet president William Schrader. "They seem to be in a rush to get their proposal approved by a random number of people, and then put it into effect. They want control of the online name space forever more."

Still Schrader said he doesn't oppose the plan itself, just the procedure. PSINet isn't endorsing the competition's plans either, rather it is proposing that the whole issue be rehashed in a public forum.

Currently, Network Solutions oversees the InterNIC ,the only legitimate global domain name registry, but the group will lose its contract in March of 1998. Around 200 other registries handle geographically linked domain names, for example ".sf.ca.us" for San Francisco.

"I think NSI will be losing a monopoly and that is a good thing for the Net community," Schrader said. "I have no objection to the proposal from the ad hoc committee, I just want people to debate it and create a plan that can survive the test of time."

Holding an global Internet convention, electronically, moderated by someone like Vice President Al Gore, is one of PSINet's suggestions to open up the debate.

"The convention will foster a public discourse which encompasses the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Commercial Internet Exchange (CIX), Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), other multiorganizational entities, and representatives of the global user communities and governments," the white paper states.

But the IAHC chalked it up as another special interest trying to slow the volunteer group's progress.

"It's all the same. There is a handful of people that are going against the plan, but they have nothing constructive to say," Don Heath, chairman of the IAHC said today.

The White House's interagency task force on domain names has reached the consensus that it cannot support the ad hoc committee's plan as it stands. It too cited a lack of widespread input as one of its concerns about the plan. However, unlike PSINet, the administration did not offer an alternative proposal. The White House has been reluctant to become too publicly involved in the domain name issue. Its hands-off policy towards the Internet says that interference would inhibit the Internet's commercial potential. The White House has said it would prefer a private-sector solution to both the short-term problem of adding more domain-name space and the longer-term issues of how to administer the Internet's shared resources such as domain names and Internet Protocol addresses.