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IBM, Netscape, BT, MCI and nine other leading IT and telecoms companies have banded together to take over the Internet's domain name system. The 13 will soon jointly announce the formation of the Global Internet Project, an organisation that will seek $500,000 donations from major Internet companies. The money will be used to fund a new, non-profit body which will oversee the issuing of domain names. The move follows last June's announcement by the Clinton administration that it will phase out government management of the Internet -- provided the Internet community can reach a consensus on how it will take over the maintenance of key Net functions. "The Clinton administration threw down the gauntlet and we're trying to pick it up," a source close to the Global Internet Project told the Reuters news agency. Control of domain naming has become a major issue as the chief top-level names -- .com, .org and .net -- have become increasingly crowded and as companies have sought domain names that more closely match their own brand names. These key commercial domain names are currently controlled by Network Solutions, the company licensed by the US government via the National Science Foundation. However, Network Solutions' licence will expire at the end of the month, creating room for the non-profit body the Global Internet Project is proposing. Reuters' source compared the new body to air traffic control: "The airlines don't run the air traffic system but they depend on it, juts like we depend on the Internet. We just want it to work." ®

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