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The Network Solutions, Inc. contract for registering .com, .org and .net domains that was to have expired at midnight has been extended for seven days to allow more time for negotiation. No interruption in service is anticipated. A new, fifth draft of the proposal for a new body deals with some of the objections that have been voiced, but not all. The proposed name for the new authority is the unlovely Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), previously referred to as the 'new IANA' (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority). It is expected that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the US Department of Commerce will consider the fifth draft today. Robert Shaw of the Geneva-based International Telecommunication Union's has pronounced the draft as being "close enough". There is considerable jockeying for position going on by ISPs, who see the opportunity to become domain-name registrars, rather than just agents for NSI, and make some money at it. Although consensus is unlikely, the contentious issues remaining reflect philosophy more than practicality. The Electronic Frontier Foundation continues to object to the censorship of any domain name because it might be offensive, although words not regarded as rude in the American tongue, but rude in Europe, may still get registered, as has happened with personalised car number plates. Other issues taxing the EFF include the privacy of board meetings and accountability. Concern is being expressed in Europe about the geographical weighting of the board in favour of the US, while American interests respond that there should be some form of proportional representation. The US does have the most domain names. There is also no agreement in Europe about who should put a European view, with the Council of Internet Registrars (CORE) making a claim for recognition, and supporting the fifth draft. Perhaps the most important issue of all, the so-called "domain squatting" where a name is registered in the hope of selling it to a trademark holder for a large sum of money, is unlikely to be addressed before the new body is operational. ® click for more stories

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