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ICANN's Lynn: No new domains anytime soon


(IDG) -- At this time last year, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved seven new top-level domains (TLD) to compete with the original TLDs. But the organization, which follows a Star Trek-like "prime directive" of ensuring the stability of the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS), has no plans to go beyond that. ICANN CEO Stuart Lynn explained why in an interview last week with Computerworld's Patrick Thibodeau.

Q: You have limited your introduction of new TLDs to seven -- .biz, .info, .name, .pro, .museum, .aero and .coop -- and are now running a "proof of concept" to test these new domains. When will you have "proof," and what happens next? INFOCENTER
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A: Proof is a very difficult word in this context. We have a task force that I'm chairing that is coming up with recommendations on how to evaluate the current round of introductions. I suspect that the report of that committee will be a month or two away.

One question is whether, or how, to introduce new TLDs in the future. I don't want you to think that it's a foregone conclusion that we will or that we won't. The board has made no decision on that either way.

As many people as there are who want to see more TLDs, there are also large segments of the community who think we have enough already. The former tend to be very vocal; the latter we hear from as well.

Q: Do new TLDs jeopardize the stability of the DNS?

A: One of the reasons we're doing a proof of concept is to try to answer that question. Scalability in terms of performance is one of the issues that's been raised by the [Internet Engineering Task Force], and we don't know the answer to that because it's been 15 years since major generic TLDs were introduced. We have some learning to do. There are also different kinds of stability, including trademark and cybersquatter issues.

Q: If there are no technical impediments to adding top-level domains, would that essentially obligate you to do so?

A: No. We do have other responsibilities in creating a level playing field and a fair place for competition. And if there was any feeling that the consequences of that could destabilize the Net, not just in the area of performance, then we would be concerned about that. On the other hand, we are not going to apply constraints just for their own sake. We're fairly minimalist in trying to create that playing field. We're not a regulatory body; we coordinate a degree of industry self-regulation.

Q: Would you consider usefulness of new TLDs before adding them?

A: If there is no demanding, pressing consumer need that's perceived, then why risk destabilization in other areas?



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