U.S. Commerce Department Renews Authority over ICANN

September 24, 2006
September 24, 2006 – (HOSTSEARCH.COM) – The U.S. Commerce Department said Wednesday (September 20, 2006) that it is to renew its authority over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) - the company in charge of Internet domain name management. The move has shocked key industry players who had believed the government might relinquish control. Reuters reported John Kneuer, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce as saying, "We're in discussions on amending and extending it (the agreement), and some time between now and (Sept. 30) I expect us to do that."

It was previously thought that the current three-year ICANN agreement would be the last and the U.S. government would give up control over domain addresses with extensions that include the ".com". Mr. Kneuer suggested that he expected any additional agreement to be between 1 to 3 years. Although the government will eventually give up control of ICANN, Mr. Kneuer suggested a further extension was required to resolve issues over ICANN's "accountability and transparency."

One area of potential conflict between the U.S. government and ICANN is the future of "Whois" databases - directories in which website owners identify themselves. The databases are publicly available on the Internet and allow anyone to see who owns a domain name. ICANN has suggested it wants to secure the information available through Whois but various law enforcement agencies have suggested they need to information available through Whois to operate.

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