The U.S. Department of Commerce will hold a hearing Wednesday to discuss the future of Internet domain name management, which it currently oversees via the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a Calif.-based nonprofit firm that was tasked with managing the system in 1998, BBC News reports.
In the past, critics have charged the U.S. government and ICANN with exercising excessive influence when assigning or denying domain names. ICANN assigns IP numbers and domain names, and it determines whether to approve root-level names like .com, .net or .org for Web usage, according to BBC News.
A deadline to hand over management of the domain system to a private entity has been set for Sept. 30, 2006, though the Commerce Department can still delay the transition, according to BBC News.
Under the current system, any significant changes to the domain name system must be OK’d by the Commerce Department, but the U.S. government would hand over its control of the system if management were shifted to a private entity.
On Wednesday, the Commerce Department will hear arguments and see evidence in relation to whether ICANN is ready to operate without government backing, BBC News reports.
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