Herbert Ford, 559-592-0980, 559-732-0313.
INTERNET SUFFIX IS RETURNED TO PITCAIRN.
ANGWIN (Napa County) Calif., February 21, 2000—An international struggle with worldwide Internet implications for control of a dot and two letters of the alphabet has ended, and Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific Ocean is the winner.
The battle has been fought to recover Pitcairn's Internet domain name suffix ".pn" from a British renegade registrar company by the island's New Zealand-based British government offices that oversee Pitcairn affairs. Pitcairn's win has come through actions of the U.S. government and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
The favorable outcome of the struggle may bring considerable financial gain to the tiny, cash-strapped island, according to information received by the Pitcairn Islands Study Center on the campus of Pacific Union College here. In the late 1700s Pitcairn was settled by mutinous sailors from the H.M.S. Bounty, part of the world's most famous sea story.
In 1997, Pitcairner Thomas C. Christian, a direct descendant of Fletcher Christian, leader of the Bounty mutineers, rather innocently told a soliciting British company that he would work with them in control of what is known as a "top level domain" suffix, which in Pitcairn's case is ".pn" The most commonly known top level domain suffix is known to Internet users as ".com"
A country's top level domain suffix denotes its territory. However, through its enterprise, the British registrar company took over Pitcairn's suffix and has been able to sell it to anyone seeking an Internet address. Such suffixes are valuable because all of the ".com" suffixes have already been taken.
Awakening to the fact that a valuable financial resource was being lost to the British company, Pitcairn's New Zealand government offices appealed for redress. On February 11, the United States government and ICANN confiscated ".pn" from the registrar company that had been passing it out and gave it back to Pitcairn.
In March, ICANN is expected to consider a formal proposal to restore to all nations and territories sovereign control of their domains.