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We are currently witnessing an increasing interest in the use of the web as an information and knowledge source. Much of the information sought after in the web is in this case relevant to named entities (i.e., persons, locations, organizations, etc.). An important observation is that the entity identification problem lies at the core of many applications in this context. In order to deal with this problem, we propose the Entity Name System (ENS), a large scale, distributed infrastructure for assigning and managing unique identifiers for entities in the web. In this paper, we examine the special requirements for storage and management of entities, in the context of the ENS. We present a conceptual model for the representation of entities, and discuss problems related to data quality, as well as the management of the entity lifecycle. Finally, we describe the architecture of the current prototype of the system.