ICANN moves on cybersquatting

Procedures for dispute resolution in the pipeline

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers that has control of the .COM. .NET and .ORG domains, took the first steps towards establishing a procedure to deal with cybersquatting yesterday at its board meeting in Santiago, Chile. ICANN was set up by the US Department of Commerce to internationalise and democratise the domain name registration system, which had previously been operated by NSI under contract. Mike Roberts, the Interim president, has 45 days to appoint a drafting committee and come up with some proposed working procedures for dispute resolution, starting with definitions of cybersquatting and acting in bad faith. An ICANN group has suggested that the maximum cost of dispute resolution be $900, split between the parties. WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Organisation) wants special rights for so-called famous trademark holders, something that ICANN did not address. Reverse-domain-name-hijacking in which powerful organisations intimidate smaller domain name holders into surrendering their domain names is also of concern. ICANN is financially insecure because the $1 per registration that it was to have received from the 60-plus registrars is not compulsory until there is full democratisation, although some registrars have volunteered to pay. ICANN intends to establish a members-at-large group of 5,000 people who will elect nine directors to the ICANN board. A decision was deferred until a meeting in November as it was felt that more opinions must be sought before a method can be devised to make it possible for policy to be proposed by individuals. Since there will be no funding for these members, those who become active are likely to be self-selecting and from wealthier countries. A non-commercial domain names constituency was agreed, and it will be able to vote when the nine new board members are elected. US legal problems resulted in a decision to establish a new tier between the council of up to 18 people and the at-large members, apparently to limit the possibility of disgruntled members suing ICANN (a California not-for-profit corporation). Others see the move as a means by which the ICANN board buffers itself from accountability. The board voted to extend its maximum term to 30 September next year. It looks as though ICANN will have a difficult role to steer an acceptable path between micro-democracy loving individuals, the 60 or so registrars, and major commercial interests. ® Daily Net finance news from The Register

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