No mention of ICANN as ITU sets out new domain plans

International

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has issued two resolutions that call for the greater participation of its member states in the internationalization of domain names. The resolutions make no mention of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), marking a general move away from ICANN's authority amid growing concerns that it is not doing enough to protect the interests of international players.

The first is entitled Management of internet domain names and addresses and it encourages (i) the ITU secretary general to take a significant role in international discussions relating to the management of the Internet, and (ii) ITU members to participate in domain name system management. ICANN's management of country-code top-level domains has been criticized as failing to reflect the wishes of the country to which the domain relates, and there are rumours that some national governments are proposing setting up an independent system.

The second, Role of administrations of member states in the management of internationalized (multilingual) domain names, encourages a similar role for the ITU in promoting the development of multilingual domain names. This is seen by the ITU as a key issue, as the Internet is now widely used in its member states where English is not the first language.

The ITU has been in close contact with ICANN since the move to restructure ICANN first gathered momentum. When the US government extended ICANN's tenure until 2003 (see Department of Commerce renews ICANN's authority), it gave ICANN notice that it needed to improve its performance. It will be interesting to see what further changes ICANN is prepared to make in order to render its governance more acceptable to the rest of the international business community.

Christopher Rees and Dominic Callaghan, Herbert Smith, London

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