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ICANN still rules the Net

The U.S. Commerce Department extends for one more year its contract with the organization that governs the Internet's infrastructure.

As expected, the U.S. Commerce Department has extended for one more year its contract with the organization that governs the Internet's infrastructure.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was granted another extension to oversee the administration of domain names--the third expansion of an agreement originally struck in 1998.

The agreement requires closer government oversight of ICANN and more transparency in the organization's plans and actions. Government officials have said this is a crucial year for the organization. Critics have accused ICANN of unnecessary secrecy and failing to include the public in its decisions.

ICANN said the renewal underscores the government's goal of private-sector management of the Internet as the organization responds to concerns about its reorganization and handling of Web addresses.

"The continued cooperation and support of the Department of Commerce will allow ICANN to complete its ongoing reform processes and to resume progress towards its stated goals," ICANN CEO M. Stuart Lynn said in a statement.

The controversial organization has had an exceptionally rocky year. ICANN has come under fire for several recent actions, including a reform plan that involved the elimination of publicly elected board members and its process of selecting a successor to run the .org domain when VeriSign relinquishes control. ICANN also was successfully sued by one of its own board members, who won the right to review documents ICANN tried to keep under wraps.

Some ICANN critics have called on the Department of Commerce not to renew the contract, but that would have required creating or designating another body to do ICANN's work.