Known as ICANN, the nonprofit corporation has been recognized by the United States and more than 25 nations to head a process to privatize administration of the Net's addressing system and other key technical functions.
As part of its bylaws, ICANN plans to set up Domain Name Supporting Organizations (DNSO) that will include, for example, representatives from registrars of top-level domains and groups that approve Internet protocols, who will make important recommendations regarding the management of the Internet.
Based on principles adopted two weeks ago, ICANN's interim board has posted a proposal that will be open to public comment for the next 14 days. The ICANN will vote on the plan during a special telephone meeting on March 31.
The DNSO will be a "consensus-based policy advisory body within ICANN" and will include a General Assembly made up of Net users or individuals who want to contribute. Under the plan, a Names Council will be set up to gather suggestions from the General Assembly, which will meet at least once a year and then give ICANN recommendations specifically regarding the management and assignment of top-level domains, such as whether to add new Net domains.
"If two-thirds of the members of the [Names Council] determine that the DNSO process has produced a community consensus, that consensus position shall be forwarded to the Board as a consensus recommendation," the draft states.
The council's meetings will be open "except where determined by a majority vote of members of the [Names Council] present that a closed session is appropriate." However, many people feel that ICANN and its affiliates are overseeing a public resource, so all meetings should be open.
Some issues are still unresolved by the draft, such as how ICANN will ensure that its supporting organizations will--like the Net itself--represent diverse geographic regions.
"This is a difficult question for which there is no answer as yet," the draft states.
Comments on the draft can be sent to "firstname.lastname@example.org." ICANN's next public board meeting is May 25-27, 1999, in Berlin.