ICANN Tethered - Page 3

Ambitious Beginnings

ICANN sprang from magaziners efforts in 1996 to break the government-sanctioned monopoly that Network Solutions had on registering dot-com, dot-net and dot-org domain names.

At the time, Jon Postel, another founder of the Internet, and Network Solutions managed the root servers under government contracts.

But companies and governments around the world were calling for a more central structure. They wanted new top-level domains, as well as a chance to compete with Network Solutions in the registration business on which it built its fortune.

At the same time, trademark holders were calling for rules to crack down on cybersquatters, people who were registering popular words and names and reselling them to Internet latecomers at hefty profits.

The Clinton administration felt there was a crucial need to create ICANN "for political, economic and geopolitical reasons," said Larry Irving, former assistant secretary of commerce in charge of the agency that established ICANN.

"We wanted to minimize the role of the government and to minimize the exposure of the government and not have [ICANN] perceived as an operation of the U.S. government," Irving said. "The fondest hope of many of us is that we could go to being a monitor from being a participant."

Long and intense negotiations among the government, Network Solutions and a host of powerful Internet interests produced the final plan, or white paper.

"I remember thinking at the time, This [Internet] is going to unite the world and get everybody on the same policy page, if not the same cultural page," Telage said, adding that he has since discarded that notion.