ICANN Secures Operating Loans

Rohit Khare (rohit@uci.edu)
Sat, 21 Aug 1999 02:07:10 -0700

[too bad they can't just file for VC term sheets as a high-profile
non-profit .com stock :-]

ICANN Secures Operating Loans

WASHINGTON -- The Internet's cash-strapped oversight body, which
under pressure from Congress dropped plans to levy a $1 a year domain
name tax to fund its operations, on Friday said it has secured loans
from MCI WorldCom and Cisco Systems.

The non-profit corporation, the Internet Corporation for Assigned
Names and Numbers, said MCI is loaning it $500,000 and Cisco has
committed $150,000 to help cover the group's operating expenses until
a permanent funding mechanism is put in place. ICANN is nearly $1
million in debt.

"This money will enable us to continue our current organizational
work and to address policy issues of importance to the Internet
community," said Esther Dyson, interim chair of ICANN, which is
holding its fourth public meeting next week in Santiago, Chile.
ICANN's interim president, Mike Roberts, said he is continuing to
talk to companies internationally in an effort to raise a total of $2
million to cover the group's expenses until a permanent funding
source is found.

ICANN, which was selected by the Department of Commerce last year to
take over the administrative functions of the Internet and introduce
competition into the lucrative domain name registration business, got
its startup funding from corporate donors.

It had planned, however, to start financing its planned $5.7 million
annual budget this summer by levying a $1 a year fee on every domain
name registered in the domains of .com, .net and .org.
But like many other issues involving ICANN, the planned fee became
controversial, both in Internet and political circles.
After the chairman of the House Commerce Committee, Representative
Thomas Bliley, called hearings that among other things questioned
ICANN's authority to levy such a fee, the corporation's interim board
agreed to drop the plan, at least until a permanent, elected board is
put in place in November.

But the loans themselves may end up being scrutinized. Bliley, a
Virginia Republican, this week fired off a new round of letters to
ICANN, questioning whether the White House improperly exerted its
influence to secure the funds.

In his letter, Bliley pointed to several e-mail messages detailing
conversations between ICANN officials and a White House aide.