The resolution of issues among the Department of Commerce, the Internet Corporation for
Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI) is embodied in five
agreements (and the appendices to those agreements):
- a Registry Agreement between ICANN and NSI
- a revised Registrar Accreditation Agreement between ICANN and all registrars
registering names in the .com, .net., and .org domains
- a revised, post-testbed Registrar License and Agreement between NSI and all registrars
registering names in the .com, .net., and .org domains (the license for the Shared
Registration System and related purposes)
- an amendment to the Cooperative Agreement between the Department of Commerce and
- an amendment to the Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of
Commerce and ICANN
The Department of Commerce and NSI have endorsed the package of agreements. ICANN's
endorsement is subject to consideration of public comments. The agreements will be posted on
ICANN's website today (www.icann.org/agreements.htm),
and ICANN will receive comments
for the next thirty days. The ICANN Board expects to make a final determination regarding this
matter at its meeting on November 4, 1999. The agreements will also be posted on the NTIA
website at www.ntia.doc.gov
and on NSI's website at www.networksolutions.com. Because the
agreements are interrelated and together resolve the broad array of outstanding issues, the
package of agreements will not be entered into until after the ICANN Board's final decision.
The Department of Commerce and NSI have agreed to extend the testbed period until November
5, 1999, to allow for ICANN's public comment process.
Following is a summary of the key issues addressed in these agreements:
Operation of Registry for .com, .net, and .org Domains
- NSI will recognize ICANN and agree to operate the registry in accordance with
provisions of the Registry Agreement between ICANN and NSI and the policies
established by ICANN in accordance with the terms of that agreement.
- Beginning January 15, 2000, NSI as registry will charge registrars $6
per registration-year for the remainder of the term of the Registry Agreement. (The fee will remain at $9
until January 15, 2000.) The fee may be increased to cover increases in the registry's net
costs resulting from ICANN policies or from legislation specifically applicable to the
provision of registry services.
- NSI will agree to use its best commercial efforts to implement by January 15, 2000
modifications to the Shared Registration System that will (a) enable a registrar to accept
registrations and renewals in one-year increments; and (b) enable a registrar to add one
year to a registrant's registration period upon transfer of a registration from one registrar
- NSI will be contractually obligated to provide equivalent access to the Shared
Registration System to all registrars accredited by ICANN (including NSI acting as a
registrar) and to ensure that the revenues and assets of the registry are not utilized to
advantage NSI's registrar activities to the detriment of other registrars.
- The term of the Registry Agreement is four years from its signing. If ownership of NSI's
registry and registrar operations is fully separated within 18 months, and the registry
functions are performed by an entity that is not affiliated with a registrar and promises
never to affiliate with a registrar, the term would be extended for four additional years.
Department of Commerce approval is required for the transfer of NSI's registry
operations and for the designation of a successor registry by ICANN.
- Upon the expiration of the agreement, ICANN will conduct a process for selecting a
successor registry, in which NSI may compete on an equal basis. If, during the term of
the registry agreement, NSI fails to remedy its breach of the registry agreement it may be
terminated as the registry for .com, .net, and .org.
- NSI will continue to provide third parties bulk access to TLD zone files.
- The Registrar License and Agreement has been modified to reflect various suggestions
made by registrars during the testbed phase.
- NSI will be entitled to establish its own prices for registrar services (the Cooperative
Agreement currently requires NSI to charge $35 per year for those services).
Exercise of ICANN's Authority
- ICANN will be contractually obligated, to the registry and to all accredited registrars, to
comply with specified procedural requirements governing the exercise of its authority.
These include (a) definition of the consensus required for action by ICANN and
specification of the procedure for reviewing ICANN's determination that a consensus
exists; (b) a commitment to open, transparent, and pro-competitive processes; and (c) a
prohibition against arbitrary, unjustifiable, or inequitable actions.
- The agreements explicitly define the subjects within the scope of ICANN's authority with
respect to both the registry and registrars.
- ICANN's authority to set policy for the registry may be terminated if (a) ICANN
breaches the Registry Agreement and fails to remedy that breach; (b) the Department of
Commerce withdraws its recognition of ICANN; or (c) the Department of Commerce
concludes that ICANN has not made sufficient progress towards entering into agreements
with other registries and NSI is competitively disadvantaged. In the event ICANN's
authority is terminated, the Department of Commerce will assume the policy-setting
function for registry services for the .com, .net and .org top level domains. The same
provisions regarding the term of the Registry Agreement will apply under Department of
- Registrar fees must be equitably apportioned and approved by registrars that account for
payment of two-thirds of registrar fees. NSI has agreed that it will approve an ICANN
registrar fee policy so long as its share of the registrar fees does not exceed $2 million.
- gTLD registry fees must be equitably apportioned among gTLD registries. NSI has
agreed to pay up to $250,000 in gTLD registry fees. Any gTLD fee structure that
requires a higher payment by NSI must be approved by registries accounting for two-thirds of the gTLD registry fees.
- Upon signing of the agreements, NSI would prepay $1.25 million towards its share of
- All accredited registrars would be obligated to provide query-based access to registration
data and would be barred from placing conditions upon any legal use of that data, except
to prohibit use of the data to enable the transmission of mass unsolicited commercial
solicitations via e-mail (spam) and to enable high-speed processes for applying for
- All accredited registrars also would be required to provide third-party bulk access to
registration data (subject to the restrictions discussed above) for an annual fee that may
not exceed $10,000. This obligation would remain in effect until it is replaced by a
different policy adopted by ICANN or a finding by the Department of Commerce that no
individual or entity is able to exercise market power with respect to data used for
development of third-party value added products and services.
- Within six months, the InterNIC website (as well as the internic.com, internic.org, and
internic.net domain names) will be transferred to the Department of Commerce.
- Until the transfer is completed, NSI will maintain the internic.net website as a public
information site with a directory of accredited registrars for .com, .net, and .org, with
hotlinks to those registrars.
- Within nine months, NSI will modify all of its registration templates and otherwise
migrate from the use of the term "InterNIC," or Internet addresses that reflect the term
Management of the Authoritative Root Server
- Nothing in these agreements affects the current arrangements regarding management of
the authoritative root server. NSI will continue to manage the authoritative root server in
accordance with the direction of the Department of Commerce. The Department of
Commerce expects to receive a technical proposal from ICANN for management of the
authoritative root and this management responsibility may be transferred to ICANN at
some point in the future. The Department of Commerce has no plans to transfer to any
entity its policy authority to direct the authoritative root server.
* * * * *
On July 1, 1997, President Clinton issued A Framework for Global Electronic Commerce and
directed the Secretary of Commerce to privatize the management of the domain name system
("DNS") in a manner that increases competition and facilitates international participation in its
management. Following an extensive public consultation process, the Department of Commerce
on June 8, 1998, issued a Statement of Policy entitled Management of Internet Names and
Addresses (the "White Paper"). The White Paper called upon the private sector to create a new,
not-for-profit corporation to assume responsibility, over time, for the management of certain
aspects of the domain name system. The White Paper also articulated the fundamental policies
that would guide United States participation in the transfer of DNS management responsibility to
the private sector: stability; competition; private, bottom-up coordination; and representation.
In October 1998, the Department of Commerce and NSI amended the Cooperative Agreement to
facilitate the stable evolution of the domain name system in accordance with the White Paper and
to introduce competition into the provision of registrar services in the .com, .net and .org
domains. In November 1998, the Department of Commerce entered into a Memorandum of
Understanding with ICANN for collaborative development and testing of the mechanisms,
methods, and procedures necessary to transition management responsibility for specific DNS
functions to the private sector.
Pursuant to the provisions of the amended Cooperative Agreement, NSI developed the Shared
Registration System, which allows multiple registrars to submit domain name registrations to the
registry for the .com, .net, and .org domains. On April 21, 1999, ICANN selected five
Accredited Registrars to participate in Phase I testing of the SRS. The test period has been
extended several times and has been opened to all registrars accredited by ICANN. Currently,
there are 76 registrars accredited by ICANN. Of these, 29 have obtained the SRS software from
NSI; 13 have been certified to begin operations; and 11 are actively registering domain names.