ICANN ends Malaysia meeting with budget approval

New budget is nearly double previous year's spending of $8.3M

LONDON -- The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the group that oversees Internet technical matters, wrapped up its board meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, today and took pains to promote its resulting accomplishments as it seeks to refine its role in Internet governance and become a self-governing entity.

Topping that list of accomplishments, according to ICANN Chairman Vinton Cerf, was the group's approval of its budget for fiscal 2004-05, which is set to grow from $8.3 million this year to $15.83 million for the period covering July 1 to June 30, 2005.

"What is left is to finalize how that money will be contributed by the various constituencies," Cerf said during a conference call from Kuala Lumpur with the news media. When asked what ICANN should do if it has problems collecting those contributions, Cerf joked, "I would encourage public flogging."

In early May, as part of the boost in its budget, ICANN raised the fees it charges domain registrars and said it has launched an aggressive effort to find alternative sources of funds as it prepares for self-rule. The moved angered various groups, such as ICANN's partner, the Council of European National Top Level Domain Registries, based in Oxford, England, which called ICANN's contribution request "unrealistic and inappropriate."

ICANN, a global nonprofit organization established in October of 1998 and based in Marina Del Ray, Calif., is, through the auspices of the U.S. Department of Commerce, responsible for coordinating the Internet's root server system, generic and country code top-level domain (TLD) name system management and IP address space allocation.

In September of last year, the group signed a three-year memorandum of understanding with the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration that, among other things, set out 24 stipulations that would allow ICANN to be completely independent and have full control over the U.S. root server infrastructure.

"It is important to point out that we have now completed seven of those 24 different tasks that we need to finish," Cerf said. He added that the group was able to conclude the meeting with a "wonderful collection of achievements."

One of those achievements, as well as one of those 24 tasks, was accomplished earlier in the week, when ICANN announced that it had expanded the availability of IP addresses by adding next-generation IPv6 technology to its root Domain Name System servers (see story). On Tuesday, the TLDs of Japan and Korea (.jp and .kr) became the first to support IPv6, and France is expected to follow shortly.

"That is a huge step," Cerf said.

Cerf and ICANN President and CEO Paul Twomey also hailed the inaugural meeting last Wednesday of ICANN's policy coordination body, the Country-Code Names Supporting Organization (CCNSO). "Again, this was a major step," Cerf said. "It has taken us over a year to get that to happen."

The CCNSO was established as a way for national communities to have influence in ICANN. But some European countries, including the U.K., have refused to join the group, in part because of ICANN's refusal to spin off as an independent entity the group that manages the root machines on the network, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority.

Twomey said he sees a growing acceptance of the CCNSO. "People have come up to me [during the meeting] to say that they plan on joining the CCNSO," he said.

The meeting in Kuala Lumpur also brought the creation of an ICANN advisory group on the use of internationalized domain names within the DNS to further Internet growth in new languages and regions of the world. "We are serious about getting internationalized domain names into the Internet," Cerf said.

Additionally, ICANN highlighted its acknowledgment of AfriNIC, the emerging African regional Internet address registry, calling the group's request for formal recognition from ICANN a historical event in local control of African Internet resources.

The ICANN board, which meets three times a year, will hold its next gathering Dec. 5 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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