From: "Robert F. Connelly" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: NTIA Green Paper Comments <email@example.com>
Date: 3/19/98 1:46am
Subject: Comments on Magaziner Paper.
To whom it may concern:
The Magaziner Paper states, "NSI and the U.S. government must reach agreement on the terms and conditions of NSI's evolution into one competitor among many in the registrar and registry marketplaces. A level paying field for competition must be established."
I do not believe a level playing field can exist when one firm has held an exclusive for five years to three gTLDs and has operated and will continue to operate as a for profit enterprise. The GP elsewhere proposes a "division between its current registry business and its current registrar business". There is no way that a satisfactory "division" can be built between two parts of a for profit enterprise which will provide a "level playing field". The possibilities of cross subsidization and sharing of references and contacts cannot be prevented.
There should be a total separation of the registry and registrar functions of the present NSI. Since NSI has seen fit to become a public corporation, it would seem best to spin off the registry as a not for profit enterprise. The existing NSI registration business could be conducted under the present corporate shell, with other registrars permitted to officer registration services for .com, .org and .net on an equal footing with NSI.
Robert F. Connelly
Robert F. & Jane Wms. Connelly
2828 Marathon Drive.
Henderson, NV 89014
Toll Free Voice/FAX 1-888-828-4177
Date: 3/19/98 2:30pm
Subject: Major Flaw In Draft
Good Day to you Sirs,
I would like to express my concern over the non-international stance of the domain draft.
Certainly this draft lacks credibility from Europe. I also reacently heard that Australia has also
criticized your draft,
as it does not allow for other government participation.
This is absolutely a critical flaw in the draft, and expresses
a severe lack of preparation and due consideration.
Do not turn your back on the international community.
From: Michael Wang <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 3/19/98 1:50pm
Subject: Draft on Domains
March 10th, 1998
Dear Ira Magaziner:
Nicer Technology would like to express its disapproval with the U.S. Green
Paper as released on January 30, 1998 by Ira Magaziner and its support for
the Council of Registrars (CORE) proposal.
As a computer retailer, the importance of domain names is paramount. With
the saturation of .com, there is a severe lack of choice for a small
business. The new gTLD's that CORE has proposed are essential for the
expansion of the Internet. Without these new names, the Internet will
remain stagnant and that means business will suffer.
I trust Mr. Magaziner and the U.S. Government would not want to be
responsible for holding back the progress of the Internet. The Green paper
does just that by being vague as to a time frame, and by splitting up the
names into five separate registrars and registries. This process will
essentially continue the monopoly held by Network Solutions. This is not
competition. This is a travesty.
Nicer Technology has international clients. What provisions has the U.S.
Green Paper offered for international issues such as trademarks, different
languages, and ease of communication? Nothing. There are other countries
in the world besides the U.S. and they are on the Internet in full force.
What will the five new registries do with trademarks? The Green Paper
solution creates only confusion and flies in the face of CORE's legitimacy
with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO.)
Holding back the informed and respected implementation of the CORE gTLD's
will stifle a crucial international lifeline, continue the Network
Solutions monopoly under the guise of competition, and create further
trademark havoc. I urge Mr. Magaziner to revisit the CORE plan that is
ready to implement immediately.
Tel:(604) 299-2385 Fax:(604) 299-2481
From: steve <email@example.com>
To: Elliot Maxwell <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 3/18/98 10:22pm
Subject: Re: [Fwd: Bode suit, it's more complicated]
March 18, 1998
TO: Mssrs. Ira Magaziner, Elliot Maxwell, and Mmes. Becky Burr, and Karen Rose,
FROM: Stephen J. Page, Systems Consultant, Livermore, CA Tel:
510-454-8624 F: 484-0448
RE: Commentary on DNS' and Green Paper's Evolving Legal and Situational Analysis
Having received a copy of the comments of Dan Steinberg as a listmember of
the Open RSC Consortium, I wanted to add one other person's perspective
regarding the risks to the Green Paper "process".
On August 18, 1997 I submitted a response to NTIA's request for comments
entitled "DNS, Language, and the Constitution", which outlined some of the
scientific basis upon which the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
protects free speech. I attempting to thread those facts into the present
DNS debate by making the point that use of language is a person-to-person
agreement between individuals who are each free to choose their words and
use them generically or non-generically, for their own benefit. The use of
words (language) in domain name addressing can be viewed similarly, as
elements used by any individual, internetworked using IP protocol, for
their own benefit.
My document below is an overview of some of the more subtle, yet no less
important, scientific, human, and economic issues which are relevant to the
legal cases mentioned by in Mr. Steinberg's document. Mine is not intended
to be a thorough analysis. Rather, it is intended as a warning that
emerging scientific facts might impact future policymaking efforts if some
very basis principles are not applied at the beginning of the "next
>There are currently at least three players:
>PGMedia (AKA name.space)
>Auerbach and the anti-NSI/privacy hawks
There are others who have positions which should be considered as a
part of a potential snowball, depending upon the outcome of the three
players' legal actions.
>PGMedia sued NSI and and later joined NSF to gain entry to the roots for
>their numerous TLDs. The basis for the suit was anti-trust, claiming that
>NSI unfairly benfits from a monopoly position.
>NSI publicly asked NSF for permission to add new TLDs to the root. NSF
>publicy refused, in letters dated June25, 1997 and August 11, 1997,
>stating that such a decision amounted to policymaking which they were not
>permitted to do. NSI had requested instructions from NSF after having
>been told in writing by IANA that IANA had no authority to add new gTLDs
>to the root zone. BTW, this statement by IANA may come back to haunt
>somebody one day.
>Because of the public statements made by NSF, which PGMedia likens to a
>statement of control over the internet, PGMedia amended their complaint to
>include NSF. From their press release:
> Thus, either the NSF has no authority, and NSI
> should be allowed to comply with Federal and state
> antitrust law in settling with PGMedia, or the NSF must,
> pursuant to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,
> acquiesce in PGMedia's demand to unlimited and shared
> Top Level Domain Names.
Either the NSF has authority over DNS or not. If so, its authority
is derived from the Constitution, which supports free speech and allows the
use of speech (as in words and symbols) to be used for commercial purposes
(in the form of trademarks or service marks under the USPTO the Dept of
If the court determines that the Constitutional authority of the
NSF as an element of the U.S. government is not diluted by NSI's
operations, then NSF's actions must follow the Constitutional guidelines
and precedents which guide government entities which contract with private
firms like NSI. As an interested observer for many years, it has amazed me
how the perception of inside-dealing of NSF contracting has created the
present situation where the traditional command and control governance
model of the Dept of Defense, operating under the premise of "to protect
and defend the Constitution" is undermined slowly over time in a rush to
build a commercial marketplace.
This quagmire has been allowed to occur because of the void of
scientific understanding of the details of the DNS, bureacracratic
ignorance of human language's role as the human brain's "computer program",
and a void of synthesizing them with Constitutional principles into
>Bode & Beckman, LLP, filed a class-action suit on behalf of a few
>plaintiffs. In the suit, they made the following claims:
>* NSI, as an agent of NSF, is not authorized to collect registration and
>* the 30% of domain registration fees amounts to a hidden tax without
>proper statutory authority
>* the actual cost of a registration is around $3-$5
>* everyone deserves a refund and NSI should be subject to ongoing audit
>(more or less)
>They are seeking return of the intellectual property developed under the
>cooperative agreement, antitrust damages, declaratory and injunctive
>relief. For antitrust, they allege that NSF violated the competition on
>contracting laws by not re-bidding the contract instead of making a major
>modification to allow NSI to charge $100 for registrations.
>They are also claiming that NSI unfairly benefits from a monopoly
>position, which would tie the hands of the US govt as well. All proposed
>solutions to the current DNS wars (except perhaps the CORE MoU) involve
>giving NSI something in recognition of their status as a major player and
>de facto home for .com.
>This is the real killer one, because winning here effectively puts NSI out
>of the business.
In a situation where the NSF as a government entity essentially
sets up one business to be THE DNS monopoly, then builds a stone wall
around the structure, inhibiting competitors (like Alternic), while
supposedly supporting the move to a competitive bottom up free market
system (like the original eDNS, of which Alternic was a part) while NSI
launches its IPO (which in the last month has shot from $16 to trading at
$27), and eDNS' founder unilaterally exerts control and extracates certain
"violating" TLDs from its "open free market root servers", then re-emerges
as a key player in a renamed "Open RSC" to recently meet privately with a
small number of original eDNS members with Mr. Magaziner, etc., etc., there
is clearly less principle-based policy-making happening than there is
back-room wheeling and dealing.
There are only two different opposing methods of building control,
from the top-down, and from the bottom-up. The Dept of Defense and the NSF
have been functioning as "top-down" controlling authorities. Does the
Green Paper want that to continue?
The design of DNS should be based upon principles, not artificially
created market scarcity in the name of an general term, stability. If the
principles to be continued are "control" principles, then decisions should
be made to mandate control, in which case NSI can be handed "control".
However, if the principles are meant to be Constitutional, then the
decisions to be made should apply the principles of freedom and
property-ownership found in the Constitution to this new marketplace.
There are only two policy choices to make at this highest level and they
will impact how the economics of the Internet will function, from now until
eternity. These choices represent the cyberspace equivalent of communism
and capitalism, central control versus decentralized control. The DNS is a
decentralized system. Unfortunately, it has been treated as if it can be
centrally controlled. Even the Green Paper is mandating scarcity.
In my recent responses to the Green Paper at DNS@NTIA.DOC.GOV, I
outline one method for building in "bottom up" inclusion without having
artificial limitations on the number of TLDs, and it can be done using a
DARPA method of 1) design, 2) prototype, 3)test, 4)commercialize. Although
it seems like we are at the "commercial phase", because there is business
being done on the Net, we are really at the design phase of the
"DNSversion98". If we truly want bottom-up inclusion, a method for
allowing lots of TLDs can be designed, proto'd, tested, and then
commercialized. Merely choosing the TLDs to be commercialized without the
design principles in place, as the Green Paper has done, builds a hollow
operational structure which will not stand. The only reason that the
Constitution of the U.S. has lasted so long is that it was a flexible,
principle-based framework. We only need to re-apply that framework to the
structure called DNS which already exists.
>What they are saying essentially is that NSF didn't have the authority to
>amend the cooperative agreement to allow for fees the way they did.
>Putting everything back in place retroactively is a major headache. A
>more important point is that if they win, it could involve a declaration
>that the US govt. didn't (and still doesn't) have the authority to do much
>with respect to the net without involving Congress. This is a point that
>others are trying to make and it would be unfortunate if the Bode case
>proved it for them.
For the long term stability of the system, build designs based upon
principles and the actual structures will survive. If retroactivity is a
major headache, then asking the right questions the first time would be a
much better solution, rather than allowing "the system" to go on something
like "autopilot". It will be *fortunate* if the Bode case wakes everyone
up to the truth about doing things in a manner which is consistent with how
successful system development occurs. Understanding and knowledge of this
sort is very high level knowledge which is often not well understood by
administrators who have not studied or who are not familiar with *the
process*. The lessons to be learned are lessons learned from nature, in
biology, in chemistry, and physics, which are why most short-term driven
political types do not understand them.
>The first two plaintiffs are a matter of public record. Not everyone has
>heard about Karl Auerbach. Karl Auerbach has not yet filed any suits, but
>he has them prepared. He has no apparent economic motive for his actions
>and threatened actions. The best guess is that he is acting on his
>general principles. Karl A. may be an unknown to you because he didn't
>make a submission to the NTIA RFC last summer. His views on the GP
>process and on NSF and NSI are contained in his submission.
>Although no lawsuit has been filed, he has gone after NSF for not treating
>the whois database as a system of records under 5 USC 552a(f) and 42 CFR
>Karl A. wants NSF to exercise control over NSI. His tactic is to seek
>enforcement by NSF of 5 USC 552a. His analysis (not mine) of the
>situation can be found at http://cavebear.com/nsf-dns.
This would be consistent with what I have written in my postings to
the NTIA and in my material above.
>Athough it is just his analysis, it is hard to argue with. There is a
>strong possibility that a court might agree with him. The best I could do
>was argue that his primary points were secondary and vice versa.
>One of his more important conclusions is that NSF's position is directly
>in contradiction with the GP. This conclusion is unfortunately supported
>by NSF documentation in the form of an official response to him. Said
>response is unfortunately not consistent with NSF's other public
>declarations on the matter.
>Karl A. was ready to file suit on the privacy issue, except that I think I
>managed to convince him that he might win and what the consequences might
>be. This paragraph is pure speculation on my part. I make no claim to
>know what goes on inside of anyone's head.
>What apparently got him to back off from filing his lawsuit was that the
>possibility of winning meant that NSI would have to shut down the whois
>database, which whould make every ISP very unhappy (and mad at him). To
>this extent, he has acted as a good netizen.
>Karl A. 'officially' objects to the GP on the following (alleged) grounds:
>1. It does not articulate any statutory or constitutional basis
> on which the proposed actions can have a legal foundation.
This is another way of saying what I've written above. I've not
objected, I've only submitted material which tries to bring forth the
historical perspective and relevance to the decisions which are being made.
>2. It fails to address the statutory constraints dealing with computerized
> records, in particular privacy.
I am not addressing this.
>He is concerned with what he perceives as the 'unfairness' of giving .COM,
>.NET, .ORG to NSI. He may do everything he can to stop this, including
>court action. He claims is to have found a 'hole' in the authorities
>cited for the GP. This is a change for him, because he used to claim that
>the authorities cited gave no justification for anything. Now he accepts
>the authority to make policy. He is still concerned with the privacy
>issues, even though he has not yet filed suit.
The authority exists under the chain of responsibility stemming
from the original Dept of Defense/DARPANET involvement as a "defender of
the Constitution", prior to NSFNET/Internet in my opinion.
>Of particular interest to Karl Auerbach is the results of the Bode suit.
>I don't think he supports all of their contentions, but might become very
>interested if Bode wins (or the US govt. settles) on the database issue.
>Bode wants NSI to return the whois database (and its content) to NSF.
>Once NSF gets it, Karl Auerbach might be prompted to finally file to
>ensure that NSF applied privacy rules to the database. NSF would not be
>able to claim that they didn't own the information if a court had ruled
>otherwise. Also, once someone else (Bode) has won and given the net
>someone to blame, he would be free to promote his agenda.
The ownership of the database information is "cooperative"
ownership, or "mutual benefit". The Internet address space is the
collective sum of all users' addresses who cooperate in centralizing their
>And he would be free to use NSF's contradictory statements in the PGMedia
>case and an in their responses to him. This would not be an easy one to
The only consistent policy in this evolutionary environment is the
original framework-based policy, which is based on the Constitution. If
the Green Paper runs counter to the historical precedent of applied
Constitutional law which applied to the original predecessors of the
current Internet (DARPANET and NSFNET), then it would seem that trying to
argue against the Constitution's rightfully continuous chain of
responsibility would be a waste of time and resources.
>To complicate matters, all of Karl Auerbach's reasoning is available on
>his website and in his submission. He is not the only one who could do
>this. Anyone with a domain name could obtain the same standing pretty
As I mentioned previously, under the laws of the State of
California, I incorporated a company called Internet .A-.Z Name Registry,
prepaid my taxes, and began doing business to commercialize the
single-digit TLDs (.A, .B, .C, etc.) under the only free market system for
commercializing new TLD entrants into the "alternative commercial root"
(eDNS) to IANA's controlled root server(s). Because I was thinking about a
truly alternative database system, I was not constrained since nobody had
ever commercialized the single-digit TLDs in history. However, these TLDs
were "removed" from the alternative eDNS roots by the founder for reasons
unknown, who since has taken a much lower profile as a supporter of the
"Open RSC" process.
The background of my own personal experience regarding that episode
specifically underscores the importance of a framework based upon
principles as being the first step in the process of creating
Constitutionally-based rules and applied law to commercial activity
relating to Internet.
>There are other related suits that might have an impact. This includes,
>but is not limited to, the ISOC suit over internet.com. The important
>point is that anything established in court could impact other actions
>that the US government wishes to take. Many actions can be 'undone' via
>legislation but legislation takes time. If it is necessary to resort to
>legislation, then there is no hope of setting up a non-profit corporation
>and/or adding new TLDs in the immediate future.
>The weak link in the chain is NSF. The fact that they lost the
>preliminary injunction is not by itself conclusive. The loss, combined
>with their other contradictory public statements and admissions, makes it
>apparent that they are not in control of the situation.
More specifically, the weak link is the chain is the inconsistent
behavior NSF officials with the Constitutional framework and principles.
>The greatest issue is the possibility that one or more of these players
>gets together. They can play off the various US govt. defense attorneys
>for their own common good.
Each of the three "players" represent the position of one
individual "cooperator" in Internet activity, where the number of
cooperators exceeds 40 million+ entities worldwide. They each have chosen
to cooperate under a perceived set of ground rules based upon some legal
framework and law. If the defense attorney's through expert witnesses
follow the principles of the electromagnetic energy spectrum and follow the
principles of the Constitution, all users (cooperators) and the system
itself will be well-served, now and into the future.
>A simple scenario would involve getting Karl A. to file his threatened
>lawsuit against NSF. NSF has made statements on record to the effect that
>they have no authority over the database at NSI. If Karl A. sues, the US.
>govt. is faced with either:
>* trying to win, thus exercising authority and helping Bode and PGMedia
>* deliberately losing to avoid prejudicing the other cases, and causing
>disruption of the net
As Karl A asserts, the Green Paper's assertion of authority appears
inconsistent with NSF's position. So, the area which seems most vulnerable
from my perspective is the Green Paper's proposed imposition of an
authority limiting the number of TLDs, similar to CORE's imposition of a
global subset, which would essentially *reverse* the commercialization
process already underway by small independent registries (like Internet
.A-.Z Name Registry).
>There are many other possible scenarios.
>On a micro level, NSF is stating that they have control in one litigation
>and telling a potential litigant that the have little or no control over
>either DNS or their sub-contractor. They have not yet made a clearly
>fatal admission, but...
>On a macro level
>It is impossible to guess in advance what each of the players might try,
>either alone or in concert. Any litigation strategy must be continuously
>evaluated against new developments. Course corrections may be minor or
>major, depending on the potential impact. These corrections should be
>made in order to facilitate implementation of US govt. policy, and not
>simply with a view towards winning any particular lawsuit.
Last summer, in the midst of eDNS' very public removal of my
commercial TLDs from the eDNS Root, I received an email from attorneys
stating that their opinion that what had transpired was grounds for legal
action. That chain of events is directly related, and continues to be
related to the unfolding situation snowballing around DNS and the Green
Paper, and the snowball is only getting bigger and bigger.
>My point is that someone at a very high level should be:
>* monitoring all the cases (and the high-probability potential cases)
>* providing high-level strategy to all attorneys such that the US govt.
>goes into court with a concerted agenda and does not make irreparable
>mistakes, admissions or even wins for the wrong reasons.
>* coordinating with NSF and other agencies to ensure that they don't make
>other mistakes that could affect the GP and general plans to privatize the
>* ensuring that the US govt. goes into court well prepared for all of the
>cases. This might involve increased supervision or actual replacement of
My point is that someone at a very high level should be taking an
historical look at the evolution of key enablers of the global economy
(self-interest, entrepreneurialism...), taking a look at the evolution of
standards which affect commercial activity (currencies, laws...), and
taking a look at how multi-national economic cooperation has been
historically gained (security, laws, Marshall Plan...) There is now a need
for much more than merely a legal strategy.
Structurally, the beauty of the system which we call the
Constitution is beautiful and scalable because it is balanced. This
quagmire is about building-"balance" into new, evolving systems, which is
something that Mother Nature has proven to be THE EXPERT at creating. Only
those people who are either highly sensitive to the balance which exists in
nature or broadly trained in life sciences can help shape or re-create
systems which are built upon the principle of balance.
Dr. Stephen J. Page, Systems Consultant
Network Architectures & Design, Business Development
2800 Independence Drive, Livermore, CA
Tel: 510-454-8624 Fax: 510-484-0448
CC: Becky Burr <email@example.com>
From: "Sawan P. Deshpande" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 3/19/98 3:47pm
Subject: Comment: Technical Management of Internet Domain Names
Attached with this mail is my comment on the Discussion Draft on
Technical Management of Internet Domain Names in MS WORD 7.0 FORMAT.
Sawan Deshpande <email@example.com>
Technology Policy Program (TPP) & Lean Aircraft Initiative (LAI), MIT.
305 Memorial Drive, #302-A, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
Fax 617 258-7845
(R) 617 225-9702 (O) 617 253-4595
[View Attached Document]
From: Santos Estela <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 3/19/98 6:28pm
Subject: For CORE
Let the new top-level domains be active. There should not
be so much controversy over letting CORE continue their
work with the new top-level domains.
CORE gets my vote. Your paper does not.
Boite aux lettres - Caramail - http://www.caramail.com
From: gary smee <email@example.com>
Date: 3/19/98 4:52pm
Subject: U.S. Government Stay Out!
Please stay out of the Internet. Government involvement is ruining
the Internet already! Domains are not the domain of government
Each and every government of the world will follow your precedent!
DO YOU YAHOO!?
Get your free @yahoo.com address at http://mail.yahoo.com
Date: 3/19/98 12:04pm
Subject: Domain Draft Comments
To The Department Of Commerce:
These are my official comments regarding the "Proposal to Improve
Technical Management of Internet Names and Addresses" dated 1/30/98.
I appreciate the opportunity to share them with you.
The "pressures for change" section at the beginning of the proposal
outlines major problems that are not addressed adequately in the
proposal. The quotes are from this section.
"There is widespread dissatisfaction about the absence of
competition in domain name registration"
By ensuring that NSI have the .com, .net, and .org domains now and
in the coming months, they are still collecting payments as a
monopoly. This concern is one of the major arguments for
competition, as it is an unfair system. Other companies are unable
to enter the market, and consumers are forced to use their service
or nobody. This is not choice or a level playing field.
Making any "agreement" with an established monopoly is the exact
opposite position. The "ramp down" agreement leaves little room for
real competition. Is it really possible that NSI will "treat all
registrars on a nondiscriminatory basis and will price registry
services according to an agreed upon formula?"
The opposite again is true. Given NSI's prior track record and
current legal battles, they took advantage of their monopoly
position, leaving the Internet community suffering with excessive
fees for domain name registration. Court battles are now ensuing.
How could the government allow this and further offer NSI a "ramp
down" agreement to boot? Why cater to the monopolist?
"Mechanisms for resolving conflict between trademark holders and
domain name holders are expensive and cumbersome"
They will be expensive with the implementation of the draft. Why?
Because confusion will occur as each registry sets terms for each
TLD. This will be extremely difficult to police.
"Without changes, a proliferation of lawsuits could lead to chaos as
tribunals around the world apply the antitrust law and intellectual
property law of their jurisdictions to the Internet"
Very little in the draft discusses antitrust laws and intellectual
property law on an international basis. Isn't this where the CORE
proposal is most powerful?
"Many commercial interests, staking their future on the successful
growth of the Internet, are calling for a more formal and robust
Agreed. There does need to be a more formal and robust management
structure, but be assured that it must not damage the integrity and
free spirit of the Internet community. If it does severely inhibit
freedoms the current Internet enjoys, there will be disapproval like
the comments of disapproval submitted to the department of commerce
about this draft. There will be instability on the Internet if
freedoms are inhibited to the detriment of the Internet community.
"An increasing percentage of Internet users reside outside of the
U.S., and those stakeholders want a larger voice in Internet
Ironically, there is no mention of international government
participation in "Internet coordination." The rest of the world
certainly would like a larger voice and this has been expressed
recently through the European Union's criticisms of the draft.
There are no provisions in the draft for international input into
the domain system.
"àThe decision to add new top-level domains cannot continue to be
made on an ad hoc basis by entities or individuals that are not
formally accountable to the Internet community."
Agreed. NSI was not accountable to the Internet community, and
charged excessive fees and built its monopoly. Giving concessions
to an established monopoly will not fix this problem.
IANA has always been accountable to the Internet community and
should be able to add new TLDs. I trust, and the Internet community
trusts their judgement. Without their insight and experience, the
U.S. Government is not accountable to the Internet community.
Obviously, the issues set out in the beginning of the draft are not
addressed in the draft itself. The Core proposal is the only
workable solution to the issues. It is particularly inexcusable to
offer concessions to NSI given their prior track record and ignore
Core. The U.S. government should help establish Core as a solution
to these issues.
New York, NY
"Everyone has a photographic memory. Some don't have film."
Get your free vanity email address at
From: MyDeadCow <MyDeadCow@aol.com>
Date: 3/19/98 6:43pm
I oppose your proposed regulation of the internet. Please do not regulated the
From: "Dennis Morgan" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 3/19/98 5:43pm
Subject: Discussion Draft and gtld-mou
I have read your draft with great interest. Sadly, much of what I expected to be
addressed in the draft simply was not there, most notably the gtld-mou.
As a solution, the gtld-mou could fix this draft. Mr. Magaziner would do well to
read the mou and take some examples from it
Why is there no international participation in a draft that is supposed to represent
the whole domain name system? Why is there no provisions for trademark issues, anti-trust
laws, or the inevitable trademark conflicts? Why is there no time when the new 5
top level domains will be implemented? Two years? Longer?
I hope the U.S. Government will be able to answer these questions. There does seem
to me to be a sense of urgency throughout the Internet stakeholders as they try to
figure out what's going to happen. Save us the suspense and state your position.
The draft is too generalized to get any concrete information.
Get your FREE, private e-mail
account at http://www.mailcity.com
From: Gordon Cook <email@example.com>
Date: 3/19/98 7:07pm
Subject: Beware of self-interested rhetoric: My Reply to News Release by William Bode re Gordon Cook's "Bode vs. NSF"
>Date: Mon, 16 Mar 1998 23:32:44 -0500
>To: "wbode" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>From: Gordon Cook <email@example.com>
>Subject: Beware of self-interested rhetoric: My Reply to News Release by
>William Bode re Gordon Cook's "Bode vs. NSF"
>Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
>The following gratuitous "press release" arrived in my mailbox earlier
>this evening. Perhaps my comments on his document will show Mr. Bode why
>I was not receptive when he approached me last week to seek my support for
>his actions. In fact my original message of March 11 was prompted by his
>phone call to me. I know a great deal about the facts of this case and I
>have decided to take the time to rebut his assertions lest casual readers
>be swayed by them.
> A REPLY TO GORDON COOK'S REPORT: "BODE VS NSF - PIVOTAL TEST
> OF US GOVT CREDIBILITY IN INTERNET GOVERNANCE CONSENSUS
>I am amazed that Mr. Bode, instead of getting his act together for
>tomorrow morning, has wasted his time on turning my attack on him into a
>disingenuous press release.
> March 16, 1998, Washington, D.C. -- In his March 11 Report, Mr.
> Cook complains that the law suit in which I am lead attorney,
> Thomas et al. v. NSI and NSF (not "Bode v. NSF") threatens the
> Internet: "If [DOJ doesnt win] . . . there is a chance that it could
> emerge with a ruling that strikes down the entire fee structure. If
> DOJ bumbling allows that to happen, it would deal a massive blow to
> Magazine's entire effort. For anyone who believes the stability of the
> Internet is important NSF cant afford to be allowed to lose.
> lose I predict that we may be plunged into crisis mode and emergency
> rule making with NTIA given a free hand." Mr. Cook invites his
> to come to Federal Court on March 17 to see the "deus ex machina that
> blew everything to hell." When the purposes of the suit are
> appreciated, Mr. Cooks comments are revealed to be as unfortunate
> hyperbole (however well-intended).
>Bode cites me out of context in his use of the phrase "deus ex machina
>that blew everything to hell." I said "the courts will have become the
>deus ex machina that blew everything to hell", if his self serving action
>should prevail. He conveniently ignores the point in my opriginal message
>that he would gain millions of dollars for himself by his action and will
>return only a few of the dollars to each of the supposedly injured parties.
> In the law suit, we are attacking the greatly-excessive "Registration"
> and "Renewal" fees that NSI exacts >from everybody who wants a "domain
> name" (such as "WholeEarth.com").
>Greatly excessive? I have a chart that will be submitted into evidence in
>the morning that shows these fees as among the lowest in the world when
>compared to registration fees being charged for roughly 2 dozen other TLDs
>arouind the world.
> More specifically, we allege that the Cooperative Agreement
> and NSF for Internet Domain Name Registrations is contrary to the U.S.
> Constitution and federal statutes to the extent the Registration and
> Renewal Fees it authorizes exceed the cost of providing this service.
> The Court has already ruled in a Memorandum Opinion issued
> 1998, that there is a "substantial likelihood" that the portion of
> these fees earmarked for the "Intellectual Infrastructure" Fund is an
> unconstitutional tax.
>Rubbish, counsellor: When congress decided to take 23 million of the
>intellectual Infrastructure Fund retraoactively for NSF to use for NGI,
>that action PERHAPS enabled it to be seen as a tax..... Congress'es sleazy
>move had nothing to do with NSF's well founded and legal actions.
>The infrastructure money was "program income from a support award"
>...support awards have a clause that says income generated as a result of
>the award can be used in furtherance of the goals of the program. DNCRI
>in the NSF was the group that grew the internet in support of the research
>and education institutions that Congress funds the NSF to assist. Program
>income may legally be spent in support of the goals of the program.
>Support of internet intellectual infratsructure (such as IANA) is
>certainly support of the program.
> At the hearing on March 17 we ask the Court for this relief: (a)
> judgment on the claim that the 30% "Preservation Assessment" is an
> unconstitutional tax;
>Counsellor: "assessment" is your word. It is choosen by you rather than
>the cortrect word "fund" to support your allegation that it is a "tax" and
>to increase the chances of your own windfall profits should you succeed
>because of DOJ incompetance in obtaining a ruling against NSI.
> (b) an audit of NSI by the General Accounting
> Office to determine the extent to which the fees collected by NSI
> exceed its costs;
>The IEEE workshop held by NSF in 1995 says that legal liability needs to
>be taken account of in determining costs of administering domains name
>registration. For example, the cost, Counsellor, of NSI's defending itself
>against actions like yours which, if one wished to be less charitable
>toward you than I, one could call: "ambulance chasing." Lets look at
>some other costs. Roughly 120,000 dot com registrations in september 1995
>have grown to nearly two million two and one half years later. Growth in
>orders of magnitude means that all the commonly understood aspects of cost
>analysis including saving money on the "learning curve" disappear. Having
>to pay for the costs of staffing ahead to meet orders of magnitude growth
>will likely prevent an organization from ever coming out of the learning
>curve. The costs to NSI of DNS registration do not cease when the
>template is filled out.
> (c) an injunction against NSI from making any disbursements during the
> audit to its privately held parent, SAIC;
>Disbursement of what to whom? Why should the parent be audited?
> (d) an injunction requiring NSI to place Renewal Fees and the
> "Reservation" Fees ($49) in escrow,
>"Reservation" is the Counsellor's term. It would help others to understand
>his case if he didn't use obscure language the meaning of which is known
>only to him. $49 is his figure and does not equal the amount of any fee
>known to have been collected by NSI.
>Now Counsellor swears that it is not his intent to endanger the stability
>of the internet by obtaining a judgment that summarily puts NSI out of
>business. So he must be expecting the court to order SAIC to come up with
>operating expenses for NSI in the event that he enriches himself with a
>victory. But why should SAIC, a privately owned company, have to use its
>employee's money to keep a publically owned subsidiary afloat?
> pending a determination whether NSI incurs any costs for these
>I must assume that Counsellor as a rational and intelligent professional
>knows full well the answer to this question. Of course NSI incurs costs.
> and (e) the return of the "intellectual property" developed under the
> Cooperative Agreement, including the Registry, to NSF.
>Ah, very good. Let's invade the privacy of every sysadmin on the internet
>by putting the database along with search by name capability into the
> In other words, contrary to Mr. Cook's comments, we are not seeking to
> plunge the Internet into "crisis mode" -- we are simply challenging
> NSIs multi-million dollar profiteering at the Registrants expense.
>Looking at the facts rational people must assume that such assertion is
>false and that the allegations of profiteering are wholey unsubstantiated.
>If I remember NSI's filing for tomorrow morning correctly, the NSI Price
>Waterhouse audit shows an average profit of less than 10% on NSI's entire
> Thus, this suit is about fundamental principles that transcend the
> Internet. The law suit addresses the question whether as American
> citizens we will permit government agencies to disregard the
> limitations placed on them by the U.S. Constitution and federal
>Cunsellor's assertion. Totally unsupported by fact. The fact is that the
>NSI award is not and never was a contract. They do not provide a service
>for the use of the gov't nor a service expected of the gov't such as would
>be the case in an inherent function of the govt - for example: payment for
>The NSI cooperative agreement was a support activity intended to transfer
>something of value (DNS registration services to be used in facilitating
>use of the internet) to someone outside the gov't - namely the US research
>and education community which the NSF is chartered by statute to serve.
>When DNS registration of commercial names became significant, the NSF had
>no choice but to transfer the cost of that function from tax supported
>monies to funds paid for by the nameholders. This is why the fees for
>domain names were begun in September 95 - indeed many desired to have
>begun them significantly earlier than September 95.
>For the above reasons federal contracting law does not apply. The NSI
>solicitation was issued pursuant to the "NSF Act of 1950 as ammended" and
>is not subject to the FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations). This is
>quite black and white. I am surprised that Mr. Bode doesn't seem to have
>discovered this for himself.
> The Constitution prevents the executive branch of government from
> taxing. When your renew your car license, the Motor Vehicle Office can
> not impose a "surcharge" of $30 for the "preservation of the
> When you enter a National Park, the Park Service cannot charge you a
> "surcharge" of $30 for the "preservation of the park system." The
> Independent Offices Authorization Act ("IOAA") prohibits any
> agency, such as NSF, from charging "user fees" that exceed the cost of
> the service provided. Mr. Cook, that "cost" can include a reasonable
>Have you counsellor, found a statute applying to user fees that was
>overturned? Well these are NOT fees for federal agency services. The NSF
>is not required by statute to regulate the internet. Never has been.
>Never will be. Therefore NSF is not charging for the performance of its
>function....ie running the internet since it has never had and never will
>have such a purpose.
> In the law suit, the Plaintiffs contend that the profits realized
> are unconscionable. We maintain that the costs of initial Registration
> should not exceed $10. The costs for the renewal service is little
> more than the billing transaction costs. What has happened between NSI
> and NSF is unprecedented in the history of government contracting
> It cannot be disputed that if NSF itself performed the registration
> service, user fees would be limited to the cost of providing the
>Any reasonable observer will ascertain that the costs to NSI do not cease
>whan a name enters its databse. And again this is not a service that is
>required of NSF as part of its statutory mission.
> Indeed, please recall that the domain name registration service was
> free until the September 13, 1995 secret amendment to the Cooperative
> Agreement ("Amendment 4").
>False. It was never free. NSF had to pay NSI. The ammendment of
>September 13 1995 was not secret. it was broadly announced in the press.
> In some magical manner, NSI/NSF claims that Amendment 4, authorizing
> NSF to charge Registration and Renewal Fees, excuses them from
> adhering to the limitations imposed by the U.S. Constitution, federal
> statutes, and government procurement regulations. This contention --
> which paves the way for government agencies to impose charges
> indirectly (through a private entity) that they could not charge
> directly -- is as audacious as it is threatening to our rights as
> citizens of this great country.
>A series of false statements. No magic about anything. NSF was following
>rigorous statutory requirements throughout the entire period. Counsellor's
>righteous words seek to convey the impression of abuse. As a domain name
>holder since 1994 I am a member of the class that he seeks to "protect." I
>don't need nor do i want his protection. Especially not when it can make
>him presonally millions and me $30 if I am lucky.
> The government has created in NSI a private monopoly which engorged
> with over $80 million in illegal profits is creating a massive
> infrastructure to dominate the Internet for years to come.
>Counsellor's inflamatory opinion. He needs to demonstrate via an expert
>witness who can actually adhere to generally accepted accounting
>principals how he derives his figure. NSI's costs include high speed links
>to five major providers, large amnounts of new infratsructure, 24 by 7
>staffing and security. Registration is not a one time cost but an ongoing
>service. Counsellor's allegations of NSI profits come from a failure to
>adhere to cost accounting standards and gerenerally accepted accounting
>principles. Readers should stop and ask themselves before they let Mr.
>Bode lead them too far astray: if NSI could have claimed 80 million in
>profits, why wouldn't they have dsone so when trying to go public? They
>did not and the SEC accepted their filing. So who are we to believe? NSI
>and the SEC or Mr. Bode who has not disavowed any financial self interest
>in the goals that he pursues?
> Quite frankly Mr. Cook, the Department of Justice should be
> NSI/NSF, not defending them.
>Unproven rhetoric, counsellor.
> Finally, Im glad you mentioned Magaziners "Green Paper." This law suit
> has revealed that the Internet is built on legal quicksand. The
> of the Internet cannot be fulfilled unless a proper legal edifice is
>And one of the greatest economic growth engines of this century while
>lacking in case law, needs an attorney who does far better research than
>you and has far less self interest at stake to provide that foundation.
> The private corporation envisioned by Mr. Magaziner does nothing to
> solve this problem. A better suggestion might involve the formation
> of a government-sponsored corporation to manage the Internet registry
> function. That entity would interface with another U.S. government
> chartered organization composed of International members to oversee
> other aspects of the Internet, such as those now run by IANA.
>Unworkable. No one who understands the development of the internet and
>its technology wopuld wish gov't regulation on it.
> These international members would contribute financially to the
> development of the Internet in recognition that over $4 billion in
> taxpayer money has developed the Internet. A model for this is Comsat
> Corp., the U.S. satellite corporation, and Intelsat, the international
> organization that regulates satellites.
>Ask the EC how they'd like that arrogance. $4 billion? Let's see your
>figures. You propose comsat, intelsat - obsolete monopolies. Do you fear
> I refer you, in this regard, to the Press Release of the American
> Internet Registrants Association (AIRA) of which I serve as General
> Counsel at "aira.org."
>No advertisements for yet another DNS "rights" group, thank you
> Mr. Cook, I will be in Court next Tuesday morning protecting your
> rights, and the ethics of American capitalism. Your friend, William
>I neither want nor need your protection.
> For further information, contact: Judy Caruthers,
> firstname.lastname@example.org or 202/828-4100
>Readers should all call Judy for directions to the court. It should be an
The COOK Report on Internet New Special Report: Building Internet
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From: "michael libby" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 3/19/98 7:40pm
Subject: US Dept. of Commerce Green Paper
Your Green Paper is a step in the right direction, but is lacking in
cohesiveness. There are few specifics as to what the new TLD's will
actually be, and how the registries/registrars will be selected.
No one would contest the part taken by the U.S. Government in the
initial development of the technology of the Internet, however one must
realize that now the Internet is an international network. The U.S. is
only part of the whole.
Just because the government funded something initially does not mean
they are allowed to take control. Consider the university. If the
government stepped in and told professors what to teach just because the
government funds universities, there would be a problem. Or if the
government funded hospitals and then stepped into the emergency room to
tell the doctors how to treat the patients. This would be completely
uncalled for and damaging to the task at hand.
Let the Internet community operate and step out of the way.
Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com
From: Craig Simon <email@example.com>
Date: 3/19/98 10:30pm
Subject: Arguments and Recommendations in Response to the "Green Paper"
The attached file is in WordPerfect 5.1 format.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
Washington, DC 20230
In the Matter of
IMPROVEMENT OF TECHNICAL MANAGEMENT
OF INTERNET NAMES AND ADDRESSES
Docket No. 980212036-8036-01
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
Comments of Craig Simon
March 19, 1998
I respectfully submit these comments in response to the "Green Paper"-hereafter called "the Proposal"-published in the Federal Register on February 20, 1998. I am presently engaged in dissertation research at the University of Miami's School of International Studies, and I have been studying the domain name controversy since March, 1997. I am grateful for this opportunity to share my opinions.
PO Box 24-8911
Coral Gables, FL 33124
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
OUTLINE OF CONTENTS
Acronyms Used in this Discussion
A The Proposal would impede growth of the gTLD space
B The CORE/SRS model would benefit individuals worldwide
C The CORE/POC process is open and legitimate
D The Proposal awards unreasonable commercial advantage to NSI
II. Recommendations for U.S. government action
A Endorse CORE/SRS, leveraging its economies of scale
B Endorse the SRS portability model
C Endorse the IETF open standards model over proprietary models
D Urge POC and CORE to enfranchise aRSC registrants
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1. The Proposal is likely to stifle growth in the use of new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs). The alternative plan offered by the Council of Registrars (CORE) is better suited to accelerating such growth, especially among people in communities around the world where Internet access is still relatively expensive.
2. The Proposal would grant significant market privileges to the incumbent commercial registry. The Proposal's concept of enfranchising profit-oriented monopolistic TLD registries is fundamentally flawed. The model of non-profit portability embodied in CORE's Shared Registry System (SRS) offers an important safeguard against abuses and failures in the domain name registration market.
ACRONYMS USED IN THIS DISCUSSION
CORE Council of Registrars
DNS Domain Name System
FCFS First Come First Served
gTLD Generic Top Level Domain
IAB Internet Architecture Board
IAHC International Ad Hoc Committee
IANA Internet Assigned Numbers Authority
IETF Internet Engineering Task Force
IP Internet Protocol
ISOC Internet Society
ITU International Telecommunications Union
POC Policy Oversight Committee
aRSC Alternate Root Server Confederation
SLD Second Level Domain
SRS Shared Registry System
TLD Top Level Domain
A THE PROPOSAL WOULD IMPEDE GROWTH OF THE GTLD SPACE
Appendix I of the Proposed Rule states "Each top-level domain (TLD) database will be maintained by only one registry and, at least initially, each new registry can host only one TLD." Similar language is expressed in section I/C.
I estimate that any party seeking to establish a new registry in compliance with the requirements further described by Appendix I would incur expenses of at least $200,000 annually. If the cost of being listed in a registry is set as high as $10, this means that a commercial registry would have to attract 20,000 registrants before it could make a profit. Using less conservative estimates, that number could exceed 50,000.
Either number may seem small when compared to 1.6 million names registered in .COM, or about 120,000 each in .NET and .ORG. Nevertheless, only 10 nations currently maintain national TLDs exceeding 20,000 registrants in Second Level Domains (SLDs). Thus, to justify investment in creating a new commercial TLD, investors would have to believe that their start-up TLD would quickly become at least as popular as the Italian, Argentinian and Swiss TLDs are today.
Implementing the Proposal would shut out many otherwise viable non-sovereign groups from participating as entities in the global domain space. The rule of market forces provides incentives only to the very largest TLDs serving the highest paying customers. Strong market disincentives inhibit the near term-creation of commercial TLDs serving smaller groups, such as .MUSEUM and .AIRPORT.
Moreover, this approach would unnecessarily add to the financial risk of creating language-based TLDs like .ESP (Spanish), .TRK (Turkish), .ARB (Arabic), and so on. The high mandated cost of doing business as a new TLD registry would raise legitimate concerns among savvy consumers about the long term viability of addresses in that zone. With no guarantees against the consequences of a registry's commercial failure, potential registrants will be deterred from using young, novel, gTLDs.
CORE has already invested several hundred thousand dollars building a high capacity registry server, and has worked with recognized leaders in the computer industry while assembling its system. CORE's non-profit SRS model offers the benefit of economies of scale, and is designed specifically for the purpose of broadening the TLD space. Yet the Proposal ignores the CORE system, which is practically ready to run. As a consequence, one may conclude that the effect of implementing the Proposal and blocking CORE would be to stifle growth in the diversity of populations that could organize under new TLDs.
Several individuals have demonstrated that a TLD can be assembled quite inexpensively if high speed Internet access and proper security features are already available in support of other commercial activities. In fact, there are working examples of alternative registries which already support multiple TLDs. However, the Proposal, like the CORE plan, for good reasons addressed elsewhere, favors separating registry and registrar functions. It is appropriate in this discussion, therefore, to factor registry expenses separately.
What follows is a very rough estimate of the expenses mandated by the "Registry Requirements" in the Proposal's Appendix I. Some sections are left blank because my guessing would be highly uncertain. A more thorough budget prepared by someone actively involved in these markets would reveal these are conservative estimates.
1.a 25,000 Hardware providing registrars with FCFS access.
1.b 24/7 and scalable
1.c 35,000 Two T1s and related connectivity (yearly)
1.d 5,000 Backup and archive
1.e 5,000 Transaction tracking
1.g Registrar Port
1.h 50,000 Two zone servers (presuming T1s)
also 100,000 (staff, location, promotion, insurance, etc.)
2.a Dispute resolution forum
2.b Failsafe Plan
2.c 200 Staff training
2.d 800 Bulletproofing
3.a 2,000 Power backup
3.b 30,000 24/7 security
3.c 40,000 Redundant site with "hot switch over" capability
Yes, TLD registries should be robust and secure, but the Proposal stipulates this list of requirements without providing any estimate of real world costs. It makes no attempt to evaluate the impact of these expenses on the diversification of gTLDs. The Proposal hints that the prohibitive rule of one TLD per new registry might be amended in the future, but it is vague about when or how new TLDs would be distributed fairly among the registries.
B THE CORE SRS MODEL WOULD BENEFIT CONSUMERS WORLDWIDE
Domain name portability is one of the most innovative and attractive features of the SRS, offering a structure that works to eliminate the risk of unfair price manipulation by monopolistic TLD registries, while fostering competition among registrars. The Proposal includes language at the end of section I/B that recognizes these virtues (without acknowledging their source in the CORE plan), but then opts for the immediate creation of monopoly registries. The arguments given in the text of the Proposal are remarkably equivocal in that section, underscoring the weakness of its conclusion.
In my judgment, CORE's SRS model offers the prospect of an Internet that will be a more reliable and trustworthy venue for communication between people. On the other hand, adopting the Proposal might make the Internet more difficult to navigate, since the government's plan would permit entire TLDs to disappear from view as a result of market perturbations.
Over the next few decades, the Internet is projected to attract hundreds of millions and ultimately billions of participants. Given the contemporary surge of investments in Internet-related technologies, one may reasonably expect that individuals will increasingly use the Internet's addressing system to conduct financial and personal business. The rise of electronic commerce technologies which use Internet resource records for secure identity authentication is an example of this trend.
Nearly all parties to the DNS debate agree that the system should be stable and unified. I would add that any features which increase the possibility of disrupting someone's identity should be avoided. As it stands, the Proposal would allow market quirks to destroy entire gTLDs, thus wasting all of someone's efforts to establish a reliable presence at a particular domain name address. Commitment to the principles of competition and open markets should not be allowed to excuse the loss of someone's ability to represent herself or himself on the Internet as an individual or merchant with a stable, authentic identity.
Therefore, administering the Internet's Root Zone through a non-profit agency like CORE is a preferable alternative. If there are to be any secure locations in "cyberspace" where people can be spared from the complexity and fears of obsolescence associated with the Information Age, their representation within the address system should be that place. Otherwise, their virtual mailboxes would be rooted in quicksand, and web links to their home pages would mark a trail of dead ends and ruins.
The Proposal intends to introduce a new level of dynamism to the DNS, based largely on the stated desire to promote a higher pace of innovation. The logic of that premise should be reconsidered. It is a mistake to idealize innovation and "creative destruction" as an end in itself, especially when an individual's identity is put at risk.
The Proposal would brashly impose the American tradition of high tolerance (even desire) for quickening obsolescence on the rest of the world's population. Free enterprise and market competition are beneficial to society, but not within every aspect of it. The stable operation of essential facilities in the global community should not be abdicated to rampant, unchecked markets.
A reliable presence on the Internet (or whatever it transforms into) may eventually be as basic to a person's integration into society as facility with clocks, maps, money, and traditional forms of personal identification. Among the domain name plans currently under consideration, CORE's is best suited to provide a stable system that would be accessible, affordable, and durable.
C THE CORE/POC PROCESS IS OPEN AND LEGITIMATE
Those who have been following this dispute know that CORE was spawned through a long contentious process initiated by a group of veteran Internet engineers who wanted to introduce commercial competition to the domain name registration system. I have observed (and I think that many of those individuals recognize) that talent and skill at creating Internet technical standards does not translate easily into the political skills necessary for constituting new global institutions where so many novel and complex issues of commerce, trademarks, privacy, and jurisdiction intersect. Not all hackers can succeed as statesmen.
But shortcomings in tactical expression do not necessarily imply a corrupt political vision. During the course of my research I have been favorably impressed by many of the principles developed in the formal "Internet community" among leaders of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), and the Internet Society (ISOC). Open processes are highly valued among these groups, and I believe that the CORE plan does not stray from those precepts. Still, many critics have said those ideals have been sullied in this debate. This is an issue which must be addressed frankly.
In most decision making processes, various "insiders" and "experts" have a relatively strong influence over the outcome, simply by virtue of their access to the instruments of power. To outsiders who lack such privileges and who disagree with the fundamental precepts of the insiders, it often seems that "the fix is in," and undesirable outcomes are a foregone conclusion.
In other words, the responsiveness of the US government to outsiders is as open to question as CORE's responsiveness. Members of both sides have indeed made strong efforts to consider the arguments of all interested parties. They can also be faulted for failing to live up to a model of complete transparency and fairness. While CORE's most ardent critics call it an insidious Swiss cartel, critics of the Proposal have characterized its authors as puppets of the military industrial complex. In my view, neither attack has any substantive merit.
What is key is that many of the individuals who contributed to the discussions which created CORE have been engaged for quite some time in practical work and serious reflection about how to build an open and secure Internet. It would be a mistake to dismiss the fruit of their efforts so hastily.
Similarly, responsible individuals in the U.S. government have been making a forthright attempt to master an issue of stunning complexity and importance. The Internet is about to shed its remaining vestiges as Cold War era research project. If it continues to fulfill its promise as a critical global medium for education and commerce, decisions made now will have enduring historical significance.
The stewards of this puzzling transformation are all apt to make a few false starts and missteps along the way.
D THE PROPOSAL AWARDS UNREASONABLE ADVANTAGE TO NSI
Under the Proposal, Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI), would be allowed to keep exclusive control over the existing .COM .NET and .ORG registry, with the provision that other registrars would be allowed to "sell" into those TLD spaces. The plan thus grants exceptional advantages to NSI.
Only NSI is granted the privilege of hosting three commercial TLDS, while the five new registries called for in the Proposal would each initially be restricted to one. Thus, NSI is granted exclusive rights to leverage economies of scale and further consolidate its market advantages. This is strikingly inequitable, as many other respondents to the Proposal have also noted.
NSI would keep a long head start in numbers of registrants and brand identity. The company is already cash rich from its years as a monopoly provider, and well poised to initiate a series of mergers and acquisitions that will extend its advantages. Also, the company somehow anticipated the general outline of the U.S. plan. By creating WorldNIC, it has already restructured itself to comply with the Proposal's registrar requirements.
Perhaps these preferential arrangements were designed into the Proposal out of a sense of prudent caution and an honest wish to reduce the potential of destabilizing the smooth functioning of the incumbent registry. After all, NSI accounts for approximately two thirds of the domain names currently registered on the Internet. Yet, potential registrants in new TLDs are not accorded similar treatment or concern. This is consistent with my earlier conclusion that the Proposal would impede growth in the use of generic TLDs beyond those managed by NSI. If doing so was the government's intent, it should have been stated more clearly.
By mandating fairly high costs among the gTLDs which come online in the near term, the U.S. plan relieves NSI from the challenge of meeting any formidable threats in the registry market. Consequently, much of the pent up demand for domain registrations may move into legitimate national registries. By quirks of history, a few relatively small or poor nations have even handed over their privileges as sovereign states to commercial registry/registrars like .TO, .TM, .NU, and .IO. However, it is unlikely that these atypical oddities will be able to serve the public on a wide scale.
In sum, the U.S. plan virtually guarantees the perpetual "lock in" of a huge market segment in NSI's registry, while locking out the prospect that widespread use of new generic TLDs could proliferate.
II. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR U.S. GOVERNMENT ACTION
A ENDORSE CORE/SRS, LEVERAGING ITS ECONOMIES OF SCALE
If the U.S. government favors expansion in the use of generic TLDs, the Proposal under review is not the best path to that result. The Proposal's authors should clarify their goals and make a more consistent series of recommendations. If the authors ultimately decide in favor of accelerating gTLD expansion, they may find virtue in endorsing CORE's structure as a basis for moving forward.
Actions by the U.S. government which assist in the quick and confident implementation of CORE plan will further reduce the costs borne by users of the system. By leveraging its economies of scale, and by proper management of its funds, one can contemplate a day when the CORE registry performs its functions at nominal cost, perhaps charging under $2.00 per name.
Endorsing the CORE plan also embodies a safer strategy than the Proposal's. If CORE's plan proves unworkable for any reason, its organizational structure would be relatively easier to break up and transform. Moving in the other direction would be much more difficult, however. Consolidating several entrenched private entities into a single public trust would present far greater operational challenges. In other words, the CORE plan is more amenable to adjustment.
B ENDORSE SRS PORTABILITY MODEL
In light of the current administration's efforts on behalf of portable health insurance, it is unfortunate that the Proposal does not resonate more strongly with appreciation for the virtues of domain name portability. Reversal on this position would be a welcome move, reinforcing perceptions of consistency and coherence among the current Administration's policy initiatives.
C ENDORSE IETF OPEN STANDARDS MODEL OVER PROPRIETARY MODELS
Many of CORE's critics have said that CORE's promoters in the Internet standards community have been fooled or manipulated by ill-willed bureaucrats from within Geneva-based intergovernmental organizations such as the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Given that the Internet community and the ITU have been adversaries in the past, this alliance is a remarkable occurrence, and deserves attention.
The U.S. should publicly welcome the Internet community's efforts to educate the ITU's leadership regarding the virtues of unencumbered, freely available technical standards. Moreover, if the United States government does reverse its position and endorse the CORE process, it should emphasize this issue, thereby reinforcing the open standards making processes of the IETF, while putting POC, CORE and the ITU on notice that those norms must be sustained. Participants in the IETF's technical work have undoubtedly made a beneficial contribution to society, and the laudable principles which mobilize that organization should be supported.
Normative issues are significant. For example, the word "netizen" has been used by many respondents to the Department of Commerce's Notice of Inquiry conducted in the summer of 1997, and to the Green Paper Proposal. This illustrates that the Internet has fostered lively interest in alternative definitions of affiliation and community. It remains to be seen whether simplistic concepts like "netizenship" will catch on, or fade away like fads and fashions. Nevertheless, there is value in reflecting on what it will mean if network-based patterns of social organization ever mature and take hold.
Just as the U.S. government provided initial stewardship of the Internet's exploding infrastructure, American social heritage will exert a lasting influence on the Internet's developing culture. It is no surprise that many of the Internet's "leading citizens" who are also Americans rank among the strongest advocates of First Amendment rights. Across the Internet one finds widespread insistence that a free press must be upheld as a bulwark against the potential abuses of central authority.
This does not imply that an Internet culture should be created entirely in the American image. Neither is this feasible. If and when a mature Internet culture emerges, it is likely to include elements that are quite distinguishable from the present international political order. For example, after several generations of using the Internet, people may declare they want to reassess the nation-state system. This may seem surprising and unrealistic today, but future "netizenship"--or some other amended loyalty--need not be a threat to Americans if it is nurtured with the best principles that the American legacy can offer.
D URGE POC AND CORE TO ENFRANCHISE ALTERNATE ARSC REGISTRANTS
This final suggestion is offered as a potential remedy to the sharp divisions that the DNS "wars" have created in the Internet community. The DNS controversy has gone far beyond technical or economic differences. An elegant solution needs to resolve political questions as well.
If the U.S. government were to endorse the CORE plan (a big if, of course), the government would then have leverage to push POC and CORE to enfranchise individuals and businesses who have registered names in the alternate .WEB and .ARTS domains before now. Since CORE also claims those TLDs, it is important to find ways that individuals with arguable (though legally weak) prior claims to relevant SLDs can finally be included in the Internet mainstream.
Such a compromise might not be entirely satisfactory to the "grass roots" entrepreneurs who want to continue operating the non-sanctioned .ARTS and .WEB registries, but it would eliminate the prospect of causing injury to their clients. Those domain name holders probably had little understanding of what a maelstrom they had fallen into when they submitted their registrations, and they would no doubt be quite pleased with a remedy that finally makes them visible across the entire Internet. Any "pre-registrant" in a CORE lottery queue hoping to register the same name in .WEB or .ARTS would be removed from the queue, and any pre-paid queue fees would have to be returned.
Implementation of this compromise would end the disputes over .ARTS and .WEB, and set a precedent for the migration of other alternate TLDs into a reunified root. It would also confirm CORE's commitment to the principle of stable, portable addressing, which should be the primary justification for U.S. endorsement of CORE's plan.
CORE's rules already permit operators of the alternate registries to sign up as registrars. After the aRSC registrants are moved to CORE's SRS, the U.S. government should encourage those alternate operators to join CORE, in the spirit of stabilizing and broadening CORE's constituency. WorldNIC should be encouraged to join as well.
In hindsight, it is clear that the IAHC made a serious tactical error by proposing new TLDs in conflict with the alternate unsanctioned registries. This only exacerbated tensions that were already frayed after months of harsh debate within the Internet community over how to add new TLDs. I'm aware that there were discussions between IAHC participants and at least one ARSC operator which tabled the prospect of "grandfathering" registrants from the alternate TLDs. Unfortunately, those negotiations terminated without agreement.
Therefore, it would be appropriate for the U.S. government to apply some diplomatic pressure in cyberspace. This conflict has been preoccupying far too many people for far too long. There is good reason to believe that the controversy will only grow more contentious if the parties are not reconciled. In the worst case, several more rounds of escalating strife and animosity could put the unity of the Internet's root at risk.
Thank you for your patient consideration of my comments, which, though lengthy, do not exhaust the other important topics raised in the Proposal, such as trademark protection, dispute resolution, the future of IANA, and IP number delegation. Over the last year I have had the special privilege of meeting, interviewing, and following the work of many talented and dedicated people who--by designing the "nuts and bolts" of Internet standards--have created the possibility for a new international reality and a more open global society. I hope that these suggestions can somehow advance their progress.
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