Internet summit to draw up regulatory framework

A LONDON computer training and consultancy company is urging leading IT lawyers to attend an Internet summit in London next month which aims to draw up a regulatory framework for the Internet.

Delegates at the “Internet Executive Summit”, being held by Prince at Westminster's Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre from 19-21 January, will discuss the technological, ethical and legal issues of World Wide Web regulation.

Prince joint managing director Sally Tate said: “The propensity for litigation that is inherent in the current domain name system will totally undermine the future of electronic commerce.”

She said governments were not keen to legislate on the area but would do so unless the commercial world “took the lead” in regulating the Internet itself.

The main problem to be tackled by the summit will be the uncertainty created by the the expiry on 31 March of US company Network Solutions Inc's (NSI) government licence to register top level domain names – the Web address suffix which identifies the activity of the domain holder or their geographical whereabouts.

NSI has the exclusive right to register all top level names except those, such as .uk or .fr, which show the country in which domain names are registered. When NSI's monopoly ends, the domain name registration market will open up.

The International Ad Hoc Committee, set up by the Internet's main governing body, the Internet Society, plans to create new top level domain names and set up an arbitration system to resolve disputes.

Commercial users fear the measures will not prevent a chaotic situation caused by the growing numbers of domain name holders.