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Applicants for New Dot-Org Domain Controller Under Review

August 1, 2002

The "dot-org" Internet domain, operated for years by Internet addressing giant VeriSign Inc., will find out who its new landlord will be in late September, before VeriSign relinquishes its hold on the domain at the end of the year. 

Eleven entities, including three in the Washington region, have applied to operate the "dot-org" Internet domain, and global Internet addressing authorities are now slogging through hundreds of pages of application documents in search of a winning bidder. 

"Dot-org is important now because it is the one space on the Internet that . . . has been devoted to noncommercial speech," said Barry Steinhardt, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Technology and Liberty Program. "If it were to be turned into just another dot-com, that would be a blow to speech." 

In the Internet atlas, "dot-org" shows up as the stuffy university town on the outskirts of the commerce-steeped "dot-com" downtown. But dot-org is indispensable to consumer advocates, public interest groups and political dissidents, many of whom are watching closely to see who will be chosen to take the helm of the domain. 

Dot-org will represent a lucrative asset for whatever organization takes the reins. As the wholesale seller of dot-org names, VeriSign makes $6 a year for every registered dot-org name. With more than 2.3 million registrations already in place, dot-org will provide its operator with a predictable revenue stream in an often shaky Internet environment. 

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