Concern over domain name regulation problems prompted the Internet Society, a non profit organization in Washington, to create an international committee - the Internet Ad Hoc Committee (IAHC) to investigate the problem. The IAHC contained members from various international and Internet organizations. The committee's final report outlined the Generic Top Level Domain Memorandum of Understanding (gTLD-MoU), a document aimed at decreasing the problems with the current system of domain name allocation.
The proposal called for the creation of seven new top level domain names (TLD's) to relieve the pressure on the current generic-TLD's (.com, .org, .net). These limited domains are beginning to fill up, causing conflicts among organizations looking for domain names. The seven domains suggested are:
The DepositoryThe depository is the organization assigned to spread the gTLD-MoU and to keep a list of signatories, at the current time this is the Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union. Currently 217 different organizations have agreed to abide by the agreement. These organizations include large Internet providers, businesses, and Internet organizations. However, no governments have agreed to the proposal.
The Policy Advisory Body (PAB)The PAB would be the body assigned to make recommendations regarding "general policy matters" and changes that might need to be implemented in the gTLD-MoU to the The Policy Oversight Committee.* This body would be made of members from any of the organizations involved that wished to participate, and would make decisions based on "rough consensus" of the members. However, the PAB would not be able to make any binding decisions, only advise the POC (see next section).
Council Of Registrars (CORE)
This council would include the certified registrars who will assign second level domain names in a "fair-use, first-come, first-served basis." In order to become a registrar, the organizations have to pay $10,000 to the POC, to support the upkeep of the the root servers, which would contain lists of the actual registered domain names.* These registrars would then be able to offer domain name registration as long as they operated within the regulations set up by the gTLD-MoU in Switzerland. Competition among the registrars is intended to keep prices at reasonable levels.*
The CORE will be an organization stationed in Switzerland, containing representatives from all registrars. The CORE will have representatives on the POC, to allow registrars to represent their opinions. The registrars will be located around the world, thus giving all Internet users access to register domain names.
Administrative Domain Name Challenge Panels (ACPs)
These organizations will be available to resolve disputes regarding domain name registration. These committees will be organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The decisions of the committees would be binding on registrars, but would not interfere with local court decisions. Thus those involved in a domain name dispute would have the option of settling through outside means, rather than through the panels.
Current State of the Proposal
The committees listed in the proposal have already been created, and registrars have already joined CORE. Thus the proposal is in many ways functional. However, the announcement of the U.S. Green Paper, has changed the situation, making it difficult for the proposal to continue as proposed. However, the POC is attempting to become a registry within the U.S. plan, and perhaps split into seperate organizations to qualify for more domain names. Thus the procedures outlined in the proposal will still be applied to at least a part of the domain name system if CORE is able to become one or more registries.
Responses to the Proposal
The gTLD-MoU recieved a variety of responses, including a large amount of criticism. Many people were concerned that the committee has too monopolistic, since the original registrars and POC would have control over the system. In this way the proposal would give control to a very few, who could easily abuse the remainder of the Internet population.
In addition, many companies are concerned that the addition of new TLDs will only cause more difficulty for them, since there will be far more domain names that could be problematic for their trademarks. For example, right now IBM would probably only need to worry about the domain names ibm.com, ibm.net, ibm.org, and ibm.edu. However, if more new domain names were added, IBM will have to worry about registering their trademarked name as well as common variations upon their name in every new top level domain.