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Icann can't help

DTI may want Icann to field domain name complaints

The Department of Trade and Industry this week launched its consultation paper on the management of Icann (Assigned Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) www.icann.org, and whether it should have more power over UK registrars.

Complaints about a UK registrar currently have to be made to the Office of Fair Trading or local Trading Standards office.

"People often imagine they can go to someone for help, like a ruling body, if a dispute or problem arises, but there's nothing like this. For the average user, Icann offers no help," said Ken Sorrie, CEO of domain registrar Internetters.

Icann has often been criticised by UK domain registrars for being too hands-off in its approach to governing the allocation of names and resolving disputes and other problems.

But UK registrar Nominet is against the idea of making Icann more prominent in the UK.

"Icann should perform purely technical co-ordination functions," said Nominet's spokesman. "[It] does not need a stronger UK presence as policy for the UK should continue to be devolved to the UK internet community."

As Icann is a private non-profit making organisation, its main source of funding is from the charges paid by domain registrants, but Icann feels this is not enough.

Icann said in its own reform proposals, published back in March, that it needs a budget of $30m to perform all the tasks it feels is should be doing.

Nominet disagrees.

"[Icann's] proposed size and scope far exceeds [its] essential functions," said Nominet's spokesman.

The DTI said it has made no decisions on what changes should be made, and will not do so until it has received all responses. It is not clear at this stage whether Icann's powers will be extended or curtailed.

"Someone needs to be governing UK registrars, that is not being questioned. What is important is how far this scope should extend and who will be responsible to govern those other areas [it does not]," said a DTI spokeman.

The DTI is expected to publish its opinion at the end of June. A full copy of Icann's proposals and the governments consultation document can be viewed here.


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