Commerce rejects Internet-management bids

The U.S. Commerce Department has rejected bids to manage the Internet's address and domain systems, instead extending the contract for six months and saying it would try again.

It's not clear whether the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, had submitted a bid. The group, which was chosen by Commerce to manage the domain name system for the Internet, didn't say. But other groups said that the announcement looked bad for ICANN.

"We are canceling this [request for proposal] because we received no proposals that met the requirements requested by the global community. The department intends to reissue the RFP at a future date to be determined so that the requirements of the global internet community can be served," the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration said in a statement.

"This RFP cancellation, announced as ICANN convenes its March 11-16, 2012, meeting in Costa Rica, can only be seen as a clear message to ICANN that it must seriously address concerns by NTIA and multiple global stakeholders," Douglas Wood, general counsel to the Association of National Advertisers and a partner with Reed Smith, said in a statement.

"These include federal policymakers, the Association of National Advertisers, Internet security experts, the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight, and other stakeholders that have criticized ICANN's expansion of the domain name system with hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of new generic top-level domains," Wood added.

ICANN has been moving ahead with a controversial plan to open up a whole new range of top-level domain names--the dot-com and dot-net suffixes. Just about any word could be used, offering the possibility of .Apple, .shoe or even .internet.

"This action by NTIA speaks volumes on how serious the problems are with ICANN and its continued need to respond responsibly to the clear demands of the stakeholders it purports to represent," Bob Liodice, president and CEO of the ANA, said in a statement.

"Think of this as NTIA showing 'tough love' for ICANN, since it reduces the risk of ICANN approving really controversial new [top-level domains] in this expansion program," added Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice. "Any controversy between ICANN and governments would be an opening for the United Nations and the [International Telecommunication Union] to close down ICANN's model of private sector leadership in a multi-stakeholder organization."