From: Kent Crispin <kent@songbird.com>
To: NTIADC40.SMTP40("steve.howell@mail.house.gov")
Date: 4/7/98 3:05am
Subject: comments on Domain Name System hearing

To:
The Honorable Charles W. "Chip" Pickering,
Acting Chairman
Basic Research Subcommittee

The Honorable Constance A. Morella
Chairwoman
Technology Subcommittee

Re: Joint Hearing on the Topic "The Domain Name System: Where Do We
Go From Here?"

Honorable Chairpersons:

I am Kent Crispin, Chair of the gTLD-MoU Policy Advisory Body. I
have attached, in Microsoft Word 97 format, comments germane to the
hearing topic. I request that these comments be made part of the
public record of this hearing. In case there are problems decoding
the document, I have appended an ASCII text version, as well.

Thank you very much for your consideration

Kent Crispin, Chair
gTLD-MoU Policy Advisory Body

Comments of Kent Crispin, Chair, gTLD-MoU Policy Advisory Body

In the matter of:
HEARING OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON BASIC RESEARCH
SUBCOMMITTEE ON TECHNOLOGY

Subject:
"The Domain Name System: Where Do We Go From Here?"

 

Honored Committee Chairpersons and Members:

I wish to clarify two matters mentioned in the Hearing Charter for the above proceeding:

  1. Stakeholder Representation in the CORE Model
  2. From the Charter, section entitled "Internet Governance":

    "However, the one criticism of the CORE proposal is that the POC is too exclusive and does not properly represent all the key players in terms of governing the Internet. An additional complaint is that the CORE proposal does not address the functions of IANA."

    The perceived lack of representation of the POC is a matter that has concerned the POC greatly, and for some time they have been developing an alternative that will strongly address this issue. This proposal has been available for public comment since Dec 16, 1997, and may be seen on the gTLD-MoU web site at

    http://www.gtld-mou.org/docs/rfcs.html#97-04

    Briefly, the proposal is to substantially increase the membership of the POC to about twice its current size, and for half of the total membership to be chosen by election. The elections will be conducted by the members of the gTLD-MoU Policy Advisory Body (PAB), but anyone may be nominated. Membership in PAB is very open -- there are no dues, and organizations of any size or composition may join. Currently it is a requirement that an organization must sign the MoU to become a member of PAB, but, as part of this proposal, that requirement is being relaxed, and a signature on a non-binding statement of principles will be sufficient to become a member of PAB.

    The net effect is that an open assembly of Internet stakeholders will elect half of the POC, and that anyone who is interested may participate in this election.

    It is true that the MoU does not address the functions of IANA. It is believed that the IANA is autonomous from the POC, and should remain that way. In the MoU model, IANA remains in charge of the root zone of the DNS, and delegates to POC policy oversight over the generic TLDs only.

    In this model it would be inappropriate for the MoU to dictate structure for the IANA, or to propose how it should be managed. IANA has been preparing on its own to transition from US Government funding -- the POC believes that IANA is capable of doing this on its own.

     

  3. Competitive Issues and the FTC Paper
  4. From the Charter, section titled "The Registry Issue":

    "The CORE proposal, however, would establish one non-profit shared registry containing all the individual registries. Under their proposal, NSI would lose the .com, .edu and .org registries (these registries would become part of the non-profit shared-registry) and NSI would compete, as a registrar, for business against all the other registrars (approx. 100) without the benefit of controlling a registry. The CORE group argues that registries are largely administrative, back-office operations that offer little in added value for customers, and therefore there is no need for competition at the registry level. The Green Paper argues that only through the profit-motive and competition among various for-profit companies will the money be generated to maintain the registries that will allow the Internet to succeed."
    "The Administration acknowledges that under its registry-scheme, 'switching costs and lock-in issues' could arise in instances in which users wish to change from one registry company to another. Once it becomes widely known, for example, that a certain business can be found under the .store Domain Name, the operator of that register could increase the price charged to the locked-in company. Moreover, the cost of switching to a different company may lead to a situation in which it is difficult to move from one registry to another. On balance, however, the Administration believes that the benefits of competition among the registries outweigh the possible burdens caused by this issue. The Federal Trade Commission is working on this issue and has submitted comments to the Commerce Department on this topic."

    Indeed, the FTC did present comments to the Green Paper. Unfortunately, the issues are complex and time was short; and consequently those comments leave significant gaps.

    1. The FTC document does not describe the CORE registry model, and instead speaks of a model of "competing non-profit registries". Consequently, much of its analysis is at an oblique angle to the actual proposals under consideration.
    2. The CORE registry model is not, as is commonly supposed, a monolithic entity. Instead, the CORE model has three components: CORE itself, which is a non-profit association open to any entity who meets modest financial and technical requirements, whose function is primarily operational; POC/PAB, which together control policy; and one or more database operators (DBOs), who operate under competitively bid contracts to CORE.

      Each DBO operates a database for one or more gTLDs. These databases run the CORE Shared Registry System (SRS). The SRS is explicitly designed so that it is straightforward to move the data for one gTLD from one DBO to another.

      Currently there is one DBO, Emergent. Emergent is a special case, because their operation of the registry is a phase of their development contract for the SRS. It is not intended that they run the database indefinitely.

      Having multiple DBOs is desirable from several perspectives: First, it allows multiple dispersed small entities, each of which can take over for the other, in case it is necessary. This is generally considered a superior model technically, when compared with a single monolithic entity. Second, there are the obvious benefits that accrue from having several entities competing to provide service. And third, there are undeniable political advantages to having DBOs located in different countries.

      On the other hand, there are natural economies of scale that are involved -- the incremental cost of adding a new TLD to an already existing database are very small. It is unlikely, therefore, that there would be a large number of DBOs -- a balance will be struck between the economies of scale and the various advantages mentioned above.

      To summarize, CORE (that is, an open cooperative association of any registrar who wishes to participate) operates a registry that can be segmented on gTLD boundaries, and can also be distributed on that basis. Each segment is run by a DBO, under contract to CORE. Those contracts are let on a competitive basis, and thus the DBOs definitely compete. Each segment (database) is run on a non-profit, cost-recovery basis, as far as CORE is concerned, but the DBOs can be for-profit companies. The DBOs profit comes from their contracted operational expertise, and not from the fact that they control a unique resource.

      In addition, explicit and direct control over CORE policy comes from POC/PAB. These bodies are not composed of CORE registrars, have no financial interest in CORE, and are explicitly designed to give representation to users and stakeholders in the DNS. Thus the goals of POC and PAB, especially as far as pricing and service are concerned, are far more likely to be aligned with the end-users of the DNS than they are with the DBOs, or even the CORE registrars.

    3. Instead of dealing with the CORE model, the FTC paper makes a strawman contrast between "competing non-profit registries" (non-profits) and "competing for-profit registries" (for-profits).

In this hypothetical and theoretical context the paper first argues that the competitive environment surrounding registries may be sufficient to avoid "lock-in" effects, and then draws two conclusions:

However, neither of these conclusions is really germane to the CORE model.

    1. The FTC paper, understandably enough given the FTC's mission, makes in implicit assumption of a regulatory regime that remains under the control of US law. However, this clearly will not remain the case -- the Green Paper itself is operating under a mandate to internationalization, and promises that the US Government will be completely out of the picture in the year 2000.
    2. This assumption is most clearly spelled out in the following sentence from footnote 14: "If significant lock-in problems develop, NTIA may wish to revisit these technical issues and consider means for enhancing portability." Since lock-in by definition is a long-term problem, the NTIA will long be out of the picture by the time it becomes a major problem in practice, and will be in no position to revisit the issues.

      While the FTC paper minimizes concerns about lock-in, it concedes that it may indeed be a problem. It seems fairly clear, therefore, that the international regulatory issues must be explored by the NTIA before it puts anything in place. Note that the CORE model, with the contractually enforced oversight of the POC/PAB, does address this issue.

    3. The FTC paper considers switching costs and lock-in as a "plausible" theoretical possibility. However, its analysis vastly underestimates the extent of this problem. As has repeatedly been pointed out, domain names are parts of the hyperlinks that make up the World Wide Web, and those links can be embedded in tens and hundreds of thousands of web pages all over the world. A presence on the web is valuable to precisely the extent that the site is reachable. A change in domain name invalidates all the links to the page, and thus destroys almost all the value of the web presence. For a web-based business this is not an inconvenience, it is a catastrophe.
    4. The FTC paper properly focused only on a narrow set of economic issues, and did not address other issues that may have overriding significance. For example, the FTC did not address the very real costs to consumers of inconsistent policy (for example, in dispute resolution) that multiple competing for-profit registries would engender. (It is of course also true that this cost would be born in the hypothetical case of competing non-profits -- the CORE model explicitly addressed this issue by providing a consistent policy framework for all registrars and database operators.)

In summary, the FTC paper does an excellent job describing several theoretical economic results. However, it does not compare the actual competing proposals, it ignores the problem of regulation in an international context, and gives only a cursory analysis of the monopoly problems inherent in DNS.

 

 

Thank you very much for your consideration

Kent Crispin, Chair
gTLD-MoU Policy Advisory Body

###

From: name.space <pgp@pgmedia.net>
To: NTIADC40.NTIAHQ40(krose)
Date: 4/7/98 6:38am
Subject: Name.Space.Charter: Establishing Policy for Equitable Global Nameservice Through Practice

On the Name.Space Charter
By Paul Garrin

A lot has been said in the sometimes heated discussions on the issue of
Domain Name Service, but amidst the noise and disinformation, Name.Space
has stood strong in its commitment to Independence, Free Expression,
Privacy, Technical Development and Implementation, and Responsible
Practice. Many of the views and policies of Name.Space have been echoed
in the positions of groups such as the Computer Professionals for Social
Responsibility (CPSR) and the Domain Name Rights Coalition (DNRC) as well
as in the writings of Professor Milton Mueller in his paper on Domain
Names as Free Expression.

While others have devoted time to writing proposals, Name.Space has
concentrated on writing CODE and putting its theories and Policies into
practice in running and evolving its service for more than 18 months,
since August, 1996, pre-dating the formation of the IAHC; Name.Space was
the first to introduce a fully automated registration system with user
controled portable address management, and the first to advocate an open
and shared toplevel namespace, and the first to develop and implement the
technology to enable realtime synchronization of internet name database
enabling a coordinated "." and a a shared toplevel namespace through its
project SINDI.

Name.Space has greatly contributed to the dynamic to shape the direction
of the imminent changes to the Global Namespace through technical
development and implementation, and through its historic legal action to
break the Network Solutions monopoly. Such pressure on NSI along with the
investigations into NSI/SAIC by the US Department of Justice, precipitated
by the pgMedia/Name.Space Antitrust lawsuit, and the Hearings before the
US House Subcommittee on Science, has guaranteed that the future
implementation of sharing the "com" "org" and "net" databases equally, by
all registries, will soon become a reality (as announced at the House
hearings on September 25, 1997).

It is essential to find a common ground to break the NSI monopoly and
establish an independent and global solution to Network Solutions. The
following Name.Space.Charter is a good place to begin.

Name.Space.Charter:
Establishing Policy for
Equitable Global Nameservice
Through Practice
and Technical Innovation

NAME.SPACE.CHARTER

The toplevel global internet namespace is a
virtual public space. With this charter, and in
accordance with the People's Communication Charter
a fair structure for Self Governance of the
Global Internet Namespace will be established.

No single Government, Corporation,
Organization, Group, Individual or otherwise
shall make any exclusive claim to any
individual zone in the toplevel and generic
second.level, or other generic namespace
whose exclusive ownership would by its nature
harm the public interest.

Names are registered on a first come, first
served basis. The party requesting
registration of a name is responsible that, to
her/his knowledge, their use of a given name
does not violate trademark or other statutes.

Registering a domain name does not confer
any legal rights to that name and any disputes
between parties over the rights to use a
particular name are to be settled between the
contending parties using normal legal
methods.

The generic toplevel namespace is public
domain and registries managing the global
toplevel namespace agree to make peering
and datasharing agreements to insure the
smooth interoperability of global
nameservice, and to insure a stable and
fault-tolerant infrastructure.

Operation of parallel namespaces in intranets,
virtual private networks, etc. shall be held not
to interfere with the Global Internet
Namespace by creating conflicting, redundant
or non-unique namespaces which conflict with
established global addresses, and will be
bound to the Responsible Practice Policy as
agreed to by registries, and as set forth in
this document.

Private ownership and branding of toplevel
domains is not appropriate on the global
internet and should be reserved for use in
non-global, private intranets and virtual
private nets. In no case should an entry
in the toplevel namespace ever be redundant
or in conflict with any other global toplevel
namespace.

Freedom of Expression, being a fundamental
right, is encouraged in the use of the Global
Internet Namespace. The right to express
oneself in the creation of an internet.name is
guaranteed by the the First Amendment to the
US Constitution and the People's Communication Charter.

The registration of a name to any group,
organization, government, individual, or
otherwise constitutes the intent to put the
name into service as a functional and reliable
internet address which answers to an active
host on the internet.

Mass registrations should be arranged for
legitimate purposes and not as a means of
trademark hijacking, hoarding and speculation,
or as overly-zealous and aggressive
multi-zone registrations under the pretext of
"trademark protection". Legitimate purposes,
as defined in this document pertain to the
registration and implementation of an internet
namespace to identify an individual, idea,
product, corporate identity, content of any
nature, or otherwise, that the registrant has
rights to such namespace as defined through
use and practice, and in accordance with all
agreements pertaining to global trade, and
that the namespace will be put into active
service as an accessable site on the internet
providing content and/or services to the
Global Public.

All Registrants rights to Privacy and Free
Expression are guaranteed and all Registries
are committed to strict non-disclosure rules
in accordance to the First and Fourth
Amendments to the US Constitution. All
information related to registrant's identity,
address, and all other identifying and contact
information will be kept confidential and
private unless otherwise specified by the
registrant. Information will not be disclosed
to any Goverenment, its agents, or to any
individual without proper procedures as
determined by the laws set forth in the US
Constitution.

The Root.Zone, the "." (Dot) or Root Directory
of the Global Internet Namespace is an
Essential Facility which makes it imperitive
that any toplevel namespace be included in
the List of Servers contained in the Root.Zone,
or "." file in order for that toplevel namespace
to be recognized globally by all hosts on the
Internet. No proposed toplevel namespace
shall be refused inclusion into the Root.Zone,
or "." file as long as it will benefit and serve
the public interest, and provided that the
registry or network manage the namespace in
accordance to Responsible Practice Policies
outlined in the agreements between individual
registries and networks, and in accordance
with the provisions set forth in this document,
in the People's Communication Charter, and in
accordance with the laws of the United States
of America and of the State of New York,*
without respect to its conflict of law rules.

Registries who manage the Global Toplevel
Namespace of the Internet do so in the
interest of the global public, whether as for-profit
business, or as a not-for-profit, and must
provide service of the highest reliability at
reasonable costs. Reasonable fees is defined
as revenue sufficient to fund the operation and
staff of facilities so as to insure the stability
of the network, at the lowest possible rates to
the public.

Provisions of free or highly discounted
registration services are available for
qualifying educational, non-profit,
non-commercial groups or organizations who
are unabale to pay the registration fees or
otherwise demonstrate need.

More information and links to Name.Space
political and legal actions toward the equitable
reform of the Global Namespace and the dismantling
of the Network Solutions monopoly:

- Summary of Meeting Between pgMedia, Inc./Name.Space and
NTIA, Washington, DC March 13, 1998
http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/domainname/130dftmail/pgMedia.htm

_ Statement of pgMedia/Name.Space on the NTIA Green Paper, March 23, 1998
http://name.space.xs2.net/comment

- Statement To Subcommitee on Science, September 30, 1997
http://name.space.xs2.net/statement

- Petition To The US Department of Commerce, August, 1997
http://petition.name.space.xs2.net/

- pgMedia, Inc./Name.Space vs. Network Solutions, Inc.,
National Science Foundation
http://name.space.xs2.net/law

*the reference to the "...Laws of the State of New York"
pertains specifically to pgMedia, Inc./Name.Space, a
registered Corporation in the State of New York.

###

From: Dave Crocker <dcrocker@brandenburg.com>
To: Kent Crispin <kent@songbird.com>
Date: 4/7/98 11:55am
Subject: Re: PAB comments on Domain Name System hearing

Kent,

Absolutely superd submission. Well written, entirely on point, and
thoroughly correct.

Thanks!

d/
________________________________________________________________________
Dave Crocker Brandenburg Consulting +1 408 246 8253
dcrocker@brandenburg.com 675 Spruce Drive (f) +1 408 249 6205
www.brandenburg.com Sunnyvale, CA 94086 USA

CC: Becky Burr <BBURR@ntia.doc.gov>

###