October 2, 1998

Karen Rose

Office of International Affairs, NTIA

Room 4701, U.S. Department of Commerce

14th and Constitution Avenue N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20230

Email: usdomain@ntia.doc.gov

Comments on the Enhancement of the .us Domain Space,

in response to the Request for Public Comment

(Docket No. 980212036-8172-03)

Dear Ms. Rose,

The .us top level domain (TLD) provides the United States with a golden opportunity to alleviate overcrowding in the .com and .org domains, to experiment with new forms of Internet governance, and to present an example to the world of how the American values of free speech and open communication go hand-in-hand with the Internet. NTIA has taken the first crucial step by recognizing the value of the .us domain in promoting these goals. However, we feel that certain issues involving policy guidance of this domain, and the potential conflict of commercial speech versus other types of speech, need to be addressed more strongly by NTIA.

In response to question (5) of NTIA's ".us Request for Comments," we believe that the policy issues surrounding the .us domain should be handled by a council of U.S. Internet interests, a forum where the U.S. Internet community can negotiate policy for the .us domain under the jurisdiction of U.S. law. The existence of such a body would not conflict with the current trend of internationalizing Internet governance. On the contrary, it would ensure that the U.S.-specific TLD, .us, is maintained according to U.S. law and U.S. values of free speech, without the need for accountability to foreign governments. This domain could then serve as an example to the world of fair, democratic Internet governance.

The existence of such a council would facilitate the separation of policy and technical administration of domain names. This is clearly a necessity, since the policy-making body must be held open to participation by and be accountable to the U.S. Internet user community and the U.S. legal system, while the technical overseers of the domain name system should be free of these responsibilities. The newly restructured Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which will be given control of the generic top-level domains .com and .org under the Department of Commerce's current plan, should not be the body which sets policy for the .us domain. The IANA is a technical oversight organization, made up of people with a technical background. They should not be burdened with issues of public policy such as is required of a council for the .us domain, nor are they necessarily qualified to do so. For the .us domain to be a successful experiment in free and open communication, it should be governed independently from the generic top-level domains, and by a new organization without the bias of having operated under an older form of organization for many years.

We believe that the .us domain should be organized initially into a small number of second-level domains (SLD's) based on the type of content to be organized under each. (Question 3) SLD's can be created for commercial content, personal content such as individual home pages, and for political speech. Third-level domains, such as mycompany.com.us or mywebsite.org.us, should be the main vehicle for registration of individual domains. Such an organization would leave room for expansion by the addition of second-level domains. The current geographical system under .us, which assigns SLD's to states and localities, does not make sense to a modern, mobile Internet company or organization, and it violates the Internet's "location-independent" philosophy. Mapping addresses in .us to postal addresses or phone numbers does not make sense for the same reasons -- there is no value to associating an Internet address with a specific locality.

Finally, we believe that noncommercial and commercial speech should be given equal protection in the .us domain, as addressed in question (6), and that trademark owners not be given any special precedence in obtaining a domain name. Law and court cases have established that simply registering a domain name does not constitute use of a trademark. Thus, companies should not be able to pre-empt the registration of a domain name similar to their corporate trademarks, especially not in the personal and political SLD's we propose. Since the Internet was first created as a tool for communication and collaboration, not for buying and selling, any policy which protects the right of commerce over freedom of expression violates the spirit under which the Internet has achieved its phenomenal success. The first-come, first-served system of assigning domain names which exists currently has been an important factor in this success by allowing a very fast turnaround for domain name registrations. To replace this system with something resembling the lengthy registration, review, public notice, and opposition process which registered trademarks require would be unmeasurably damaging to the Internet's viability as a medium of speech. Trademark dispute resolution should not be the responsiblitiy of the .us policy-setting body; these issues should be left to the courts and other bodies which have traditionally handled them in other media.

In order to maintain the values which are key to the Internet's growth, and to set an example to the world Internet community, we ask that NTIA make a high priority of the following policy recommendations put forth by the Domain Name Rights Coalition:

1. That the protection of free speech be a primary policy goal for those overseeing the .us domain.

2. That "No Internet policy will prevent individuals or businesses from using their full imagination and creativity to create and label products, services and content for the Internet, just as they do in traditional channels of communication and commerce."

3. That policies for the .us domain "will affirmatively and expressly set out protections for free speech and open communication, as well as protections for intellectual property rights in the digital environment."

4. That these policies "will protect and promote the development of new Internet products and services by entrepreneurs and small businesses, as well as the ongoing marketing and sale of products and services by long-established companies."

(Source: <http://www.domain-name.org/usdomain.html>)

The proposed expansion of domain names under the .us TLD cannot help but alleviate overcrowding on the generic TLD's like .com and .org. However, we have an opportunity to achieve other goals with this transformation: a strengthened protection of the rights of free speech and entrepreneurship which our country stands for.

Sincerely,

Audrie Krause

Executive Director

audrie@netaction.org

NetAction

601 Van Ness Ave., #631

San Francisco, CA 94102

http://www.netaction.org

###

Before the

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

NATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION

Washington, D.C.

October 2, 1998

Request for Comments on the

Enhancement of the .us Domain Space

Docket No. 980212036-8172-03

COMMENTS OF THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE

The United States Postal Service (USPS) respectfully submits the comments below in response to the NTIA Request for Public Comments (RFC) on the Enhancement of the .us Domain Space (Docket No. 980212036-8172-03). These comments are presented in addition to the comments submitted on August 17, 1998 (Attachment A). As suggested, our comments below are numbered and organized in response to the specific questions set forth in the RFC.

The USPS has carefully reviewed the questions in the RFC with high regard to serving the needs of all stakeholders of the .us country code top level domain (ccTLD). We believe it is in the interest of the public and their businesses that the Department of Commerce consider the following key goals and principles when formulating its direction regarding the .us ccTLD:

1. The .us ccTLD should be viewed as a national asset of the United States. It should be developed to foster access to, and participation by, both individuals and businesses.

2. Protections of the privacy of registrants and end users must be integrated into both policy and operational procedures.

3. Registrations within .us ccTLD should be governed by US law and registrants should be subject to US domain name dispute resolution mechanisms.

4. The US Government, through a federal entity, should act as a coordinator of and set policies for .us ccTLD; its authority with respect to this national asset of the US should not be given to the private sector.

5. Assignments of registry, registrar, certification, enforcement, database and zone file operation, and other administrative roles should encourage private sector involvement in the development and enhancement of the .us ccTLD.

6. The coordinator of the .us ccTLD should be an organization that can increase the usage and the value of Internet registrations and registration services within the .us ccTLD.

7. New structures and policies should be developed through open, fair, inclusive, and transparent deliberation processes, should identify stakeholder needs and interests and should include an assessment of the potential impact of any contemplated changes on registrants and users.

8. The coordinator of the .us ccTLD should create fair and equitable access to the .us system and allow for input and participation by all stakeholders.

These key goals and principles, taken collectively, should allow the .us ccTLD to provide the greatest commercial and public value to individuals, businesses, and the nation.

Question 1a: How should the present geographic structure of .us be extended or modified?

USPS Response:

In general, the geographic structure of the .us ccTLD should be extended to include more second-level domains that relate to special purposes, functions, or groups.

One goal of the coordinator for .us ccTLD should be to increase Internet usage and the value of registrations and registration services by providing greater public access to domain names and opportunities for user confidentiality and privacy. The .us domain has been underutilized to date. As more public and private transactions occur through electronic transmissions using the Internet, the .us domain's value as a unique identifier in the domain name space can support both public and private interests. Additionally, the domain name system can serve to enhance the meaning, accuracy, and convenience of associating particular domain names with particular types of organizations as well as enhance the status of those registered therein.

Any alterations in domain structure should consider operational costs, market demand, societal benefits, and impact on system infrastructure. Changes to the second-level domain could be extended to include:

1. Credential-based zones. Such zones could be based on a classification system that represents communities of interest; the registrars for these zones could then establish criteria for registrations with these zones. This would assist consumers looking for specialized services.

2. A domain structure that would allow physical addresses to be reached by electronic messages and transactions, while protecting individual privacy.

3. A privacy preserving second-level domain that could allow US residents to have the option to send and receive electronic correspondence with personal electronic addresses that do not reveal the location to users.

Question 1b: What changes should be made in RFC 1480 or the posted policies for .us?

USPS Response:

Suggested changes to RFC 1480 and posted policies for .us ccTLD are discussed in responses to other questions throughout this document. The coordinator of .us should consider updating RFC 1480 as an early step in the transition process.

Question 2a: What are the benefits and costs of different options for allocating second-level domains under .us?

USPS Response:

The following are several observations on the benefits and costs of different options for allocating second-level domains under .us:

1. Second-level domain names are a key component of expanding use of the .us ccTLD and making it more flexible than its current implementation.

2. Adding second-level domains that identify particular types of organizations or roles played by registrants could increase recognizability of URL strings, enhance branding potential, potentially minimize trademark conflicts, encourage usage, and provide meaningful information for Internet users.

3. New categories of second-level domains could attract registrations from public and private sector parties. This could help customers locate businesses, thereby facilitating commerce.

Note: Additional comments regarding costs and benefits of specific options are discussed in more detail below, in response to particular questions.

Question 2b: How should the allocation of such second-level domains be decided and administered?

USPS Response:

Policy needs to be developed regarding allocation of new subdomains. These policies should take into account at least four considerations:

1. Operational Costs

2. Market Demand

3. Societal Benefit

4. Impact on System Infrastructure

The policy-making decisions regarding allocation of second-level domains, along with final decisions regarding other policy issues relating to .us ccTLD, should remain with a US federal entity that could:

1. Reduce uncertainty as to the application of US law and jurisdictional principles to .us domain name registrations.

2. Decrease the likelihood of litigation and other challenges that may arise if the policy-making body was a private entity.

Final decisions regarding policy and administration of the .us ccTLD should be reached only after open consultation with public and private sector stakeholders.

Question 2c: What should be the terms of delegation?

USPS Response:

The coordinator for .us ccTLD should be empowered and encouraged to assign, under contract, various locally directed duties to appropriate public and private sector entities. Contractual terms for assignment of any second-level domain responsibilities beneath the .us ccTLD should be expressly designed to assure reliability.

Question 3a: Specifically, should special-purpose second-level domains be created under .us?

USPS Response:

Yes, additional special-purpose second-level domains should be created. Such domains can provide attractive opportunities for branding and labeling that accurately convey information regarding the roles of particular registrants. Special purpose domains, outside the geographic structure, may also increase recognizability of URL strings and make publicity regarding such domains more effective.

Nevertheless, any such additional second-level domains should be added after an open hearing process and after taking into account public demand, potential impact of such second-level domains on existing registrants, and other issues raised in the course of deliberation among stakeholders. The .us coordinating entity should work closely with private and public sector stakeholders on proposals to develop special-purpose second-level domains.

Question 3b: What are the benefits and costs of creating particular special-purpose domains (e.g., industry-specific, credentialing, zoning)?

USPS Response:

There are both advantages and disadvantages to creating special-purpose domains:

1. The creation of industry-specific domains could reduce conflicts among trademark owners and would assist consumers looking for specialized services.

2. The creation of credential-based zones administered by appropriate professional organizations could assist end users of the Internet in better understanding the status of those with whom they enter into transactions. On the other hand, it could require additional effort by those who, for various reasons, face the need to review and analyze such registrations; could make the .us ccTLD structure more complex; and could increase the cost to administer the .us ccTLD registration system.

3. The creation of zoning domains could enable new value added services and provide accurate information regarding the physical location of the sites and organizations registered.

In conclusion, the addition of special-purpose domains would increase the scalability of the domain namespace, allow for continued assignment of administration, and increase the number of potential domain names.

Question 3c: How should such domains be created and administered?

USPS Response:

New special-purpose domains should be created by a US federal entity charged with coordinating the .us ccTLD with input from public and private stakeholders. The performance of administrative functions and the administration of special-purpose domains might best be contracted to the private sector. Various public bodies could also be assigned authority and responsibility under appropriate circumstances. Such contracts should be structured such that they ensure continuation of services in the event of expiration or default of contractual agreements.

Question 3d: Are there reasons to map names and other addressing and identification systems (e.g., postal addresses, telephone numbers, longitude and latitude, uniform resource numbers or others) into .us?

USPS Response:

Any address schema should respect the privacy of individuals. Decisions should also take into account the impact on other stakeholders and the overall benefits and costs of creating new second-level domains.

There may be individuals and commercial entities that wish to use more than one mode of communication, which may be mapped within different directories. To facilitate the convergence of different communication mediums, the coordinator of .us ccTLD should promote usage of the .us domain namespace by commercial entities seeking to map addressing and identification systems into the .us ccTLD. This may be difficult to achieve, but with input and cooperation from stakeholders, such mapping is possible.

Question 4a: Alternatively, should .us be treated as an unrestricted top-level domain like .com or should one or more specific second-level domains such as .co.us or .com.us be used for unrestricted assignment of domain names (as in .com)?

USPS Response:

The goal of enhancing the .us ccTLD should not be to emulate the current unrestricted structure of gTLDs, such as the .com namespace. However, it might be useful to have one or more subdomains for miscellaneous domain names that do not fit into special-purpose domains discussed in question 3b. An important value in the .us ccTLD space is the presence of a pre-existing structure. This structure, if enhanced, should facilitate the expansion of commerce and correspondence within the namespace.

Question 4b: How should such unrestricted domains be administered and by whom?

USPS Response:

See USPS Response to Question 4a.

Question 5a: How should conflicting proposals and claims to manage or use .us subdomains be resolved?

USPS Response:

The policies for resolving conflicting proposals to manage or use .us subdomains should be developed in collaboration with private and public stakeholders, acting through fair and open processes and advisory groups.

Question 5b: Who should have responsibility for coordinating policy for .us over the long term?

USPS Response:

Policy in the .us ccTLD should be coordinated by a US federal entity. Vesting policy-making authority with a US federal entity holds substantial advantages. It can create value for all Internet users by allowing them to rely on the fact that .us domain name registrants will be subject to dispute resolution processes in the US. Such final policy-making power can be conducted consistently with broadly inclusive and open and transparent processes for collecting the views of private and public stakeholders and for assigning operational and subsidiary matters to the private sector, by contract, where appropriate.

Question 5c: What public oversight, if any, should be provided?

USPS Response:

The US federal entity should accept oversight responsibility for the proper operation of the .us ccTLD that bears its governmental "brand name." This responsibility comes with the parallel responsibility to ensure that the .us domain namespace is administered in the public interest.

Question 6a: What rules and procedures should be used to minimize conflicts between trademarks and domain names under .us?

USPS Response:

An efficient and equitable dispute resolution process should be available to both .us domain name registrants and to trademark owners.

The coordinator of .us ccTLD could facilitate access to such a system, rather than serve as a tribunal for such disputes. There are certain steps, however, which can be taken by the .us ccTLD coordinator to assist in the resolution of disputes between private parties without significant cost, including:

1. Requiring accurate and updated contact information from registrants (including an agent for service of process),

2. Requiring consent to appropriate court jurisdiction or alternative dispute resolution mechanism by the domain name registrant, and

3. Maintaining a searchable database of registered domain names for use in monitoring .us domain name registrations.

The ongoing study undertaken by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), at the request of Department of Commerce, on domain name dispute resolution should provide additional direction with regard to this issue.

Question 6b: Should this problem be treated differently at international, national, state, and local levels?

USPS Response:

Jurisdiction for any disputes relating to .us domain name registration should be in the United States. United States trademark law should govern disputes concerning .us domain names.

Question 6c: Should special privileges be accorded to famous trademarks, such as a right to register directly under .us or a procedure to preempt the use of the trademark in a range of subdomains?

USPS Response:

A summary dispute resolution procedure could be developed that would be sufficient to address instances of domain name piracy and "cybersquatting." The decisions regarding protection of famous trademarks should take into consideration market circumstances in light of the extensive factual inquiry which must be made to make determinations of fame. The procedures used to reach those decisions should be developed through an open deliberation process with input from all stakeholders. The determination of close questions of both competing rights and questions of infringement or dilution could either be addressed under this same procedure with agreement of the parties or left to the courts. Famous trademarks should not be entitled to register as second-level domains; such registrations could lessen the overall utility of the .us ccTLD.

Question 7a: What role should states play in the allocation and registration of their respective subdomains?

USPS Response:

With input from public and private stakeholders, the coordinating entity of .us ccTLD should develop a model addressing hierarchical structure that allows for variations at the state and local government level.

Question 7b: Should commercial names be permitted under states as third-level domains?

USPS Response:

To increase the value and use of the .us domain namespace, it may be appropriate for states to allow commercial names to register under state third-level domains. The use of third-level commercial names under state domains might be appropriate insofar as these third-level domains are used to:

1. Signify geographic location,

2. Verify that a business is registered with the proper authorities,

3. Recognize rights to use a particular name or trademark, and

4. Allow special categories as determined by each state.

Question 7c: Or should such third-level domains be limited to special categories such as domestic corporations or other state-licensed entities?

USPS Response:

See USPS Response to Question 7a.

Question 7d: Should states and localities operate registries and accept registrations directly?

USPS Response:

See USPS Response to Question 7a.

Question 7e: To what extent should state policies be coordinated and through what mechanisms and procedures?

USPS Response:

See USPS Response to Question 7a.

Question 8a: How well has the system of delegating third-level domains (localities) to private registrars on an exclusive basis worked?

USPS Response:

The exclusivity has had certain benefits with respect to operational efficiency. A desired goal, however, for delegating third-level domains would be to permit multiple registrars without sacrificing operational efficiency.

Question 8b: How could it be improved?

USPS Response:

The .us domain namespace should ensure accessible and public listings of available registrars to facilitate ease of use and ensure a more accurate domain name referencing system for a broad customer base.

Question 8c: Should registrars be accountable to their delegated localities (just as country-code registries are accountable to national governments)?

USPS Response:

To ensure a balance between authority over delegated localities and responsibility for providing service, registrars should be accountable to their delegated localities.

Question 8d: Should registrars be limited to a single jurisdiction?

USPS Response:

In the spirit of encouraging competition among registrars, there does not appear to be any reason to limit qualified registrars to perform their functions for a single jurisdiction.

Question 8e: Should multiple competing registrars be able to register under any local, state, or special-purpose domain under .us as in the plan proposed for generic Top-Level Domains?

USPS Response:

Multiple competing registrars should be able to register under any local, state, or special-purpose domain under .us as long as a systematic process can be maintained. The coordinator of .us ccTLD should keep in mind that the .us registry currently uses a shared database. Therefore, multiple registrars must have equal access to the registry, and operational policies need to be enacted to allow multiple registrars to co-exist.

The presence of multiple registrars should lead to competitive pricing and service.

Question 9a: How should the operation of the .us registry be supported?

USPS Response:

The .us ccTLD should be supported through the assessment of fees sufficient to recover the cost of operations. These charges should be fair and equitable and should not be based on a profit-making motive for the coordinating entity.

Question 9b: Should uniform registration (and renewal) fees be instituted?

USPS Response:

There may be a substantial difference in demand and associated administrative and operating costs among the various subdomains. Therefore, fees could vary but should be fair and applicable on a subdomain basis.

Question 9c: Should registrars contribute to the operation of the registry?

USPS Response:

Yes, registrars should contribute to the operation of the .us registry. The contributions should be fair and be applied to recover the cost of operations of the registry.

Question 10a: What are best management and allocation practices for country-code domains?

USPS Response:

Best practices for a ccTLD should include the following:

1. Establish an open, fair, transparent, and publicly documented process for all interested parties to comment on proposals.

2. Establish a decision making body subject to oversight, that can make, publicize, and implement clear decisions regarding applicable rules.

3. Defer to national governments as the source of definitive policies regarding ccTLD registration in their respective countries.

4. Open new subdomains, taking into consideration: operational costs, market demand, societal benefits, and impacts on system infrastructure.

5. Carefully safeguard the privacy of data derived from registration and database services.

6. Continually benchmark against other countries' administration of ccTLDs.

Question 10b: What practices should be emulated or avoided?

USPS Response:

As discussed in question 4a, the goal of enhancing .us ccTLD should not be to emulate the current unrestricted structure of gTLDs. Rather, .us should maintain and enhance the logic and structure, much like other successful country code top-level domains.

Question 11a: By what type of entity should .us be administered?

USPS Response:

The entity chosen by the US Government to establish and administer policy for the .us ccTLD should be responsible for coordination of all aspects of the policy-making process. The US Government should concentrate final policy-making and coordination responsibilities in the hands of a single US federal entity and it should allocate that responsibility to the US federal entity that has the best combination of expertise, commitment, resources, and structural characteristics combined with adequate openness and oversight.

A US federal entity is best positioned to administer the .us ccTLD because it can create value for all Internet users by allowing them to rely on the fact that .us domain name registrants will be subject to dispute resolution processes in the US. Such policy-making responsibility can be exercised consistently through broadly inclusive, fair, and open processes for collecting the views of private and public stakeholders, and for assigning operational and subsidiary matters to the private sector, by contract, where appropriate. By vesting authority to coordinate .us in the hands of a US federal entity, the United States has an opportunity to maintain top-level policy oversight over its ccTLD and, simultaneously, encourage robust private sector involvement.

As a US federal entity, the USPS has the capability to accomplish the key goals and principles suggested in the "Overview" (see page 1). Namely, it could offer the following expertise and attributes to coordinate the administration of the .us ccTLD:

1. Protect the .us ccTLD as a national asset - The USPS has a statutory mandate to foster correspondence and establish a correspondence infrastructure for the nation. Furthermore, it has the ability to formulate and implement government-based policies and to reach out credibly to involve private sector stakeholders in a fair and open deliberation process.

2. Protect user privacy - The USPS has responsibilities under law and tradition for protecting the privacy of postal customers. It has done this consistently in accordance with the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 (39 USC 412) which states: "Except as specifically provided by law, no officer or employee of the Postal Service shall make available to the public by any means or for any purpose any mailing or other list of names or addresses (past or present) of postal patrons or other persons."

3. Facilitate access to dispute resolution processes - The USPS is an innovator and a leader in the federal government in the use of alternative dispute resolution techniques to resolve conflicts and avoid the need for litigation. For example, it has developed a mediation program called REDRESS (Resolve Employment Disputes, Reach Equitable Solutions Swiftly) that provides an informal and speedy alternative to the traditional Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) process of filing a formal complaint and proceeding through an extensive adversHelvetica,Arial process.

4. Leverage its responsibility as a US federal entity - As a US federal entity, the USPS can coordinate and elicit both private and public sector input to set policy that reflects a broad spectrum of stakeholder needs.

5. Encourage private sector involvement - The USPS has a history of partnering with the private sector to leverage industry expertise and experience. For example, the USPS sub-contracts the management of its national frame-relay telecommunications network to a large telecommunications company.

6. Increase usage of .us ccTLD - The USPS could provide the stability and integrity necessary for establishing the .us ccTLD as a viable domain for conducting personal and professional business. The openness and established nature of the federal policy making process will reduce risk and enhance its acceptance of the expanded domain. Finally, USPS's experience in assessing market needs and providing universal services will allow it to effectively extend the resources of the .us ccTLD to American residents and businesses.

7. Establish open and fair policy deliberation processes - The USPS has extensive knowledge of and experience with fair and effective governance structures that support decision making and robust deliberation processes among stakeholders. One example is the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC), a forum where representatives of all segments of the mailing industry meet with USPS management to discuss a wide range of issues of interest to the industry and to offer advice and recommendations for USPS action.

8. Create fair and equitable access - The USPS's not-for-profit, trusted status would allow it to work constructively, cost-effectively, and efficiently, via open processes, with a wide range of public and private sector organizations that have input into the policy-making process.

Throughout the history of the United States, the USPS has played a pivotal public policy role in supporting the infrastructure and coordinating the activities that ensure universal delivery of correspondence and commerce for the nation. If it is determined that the public's interest is best served by the USPS coordinating the administration of the .us ccTLD, the USPS would leverage its expertise and attributes in a manner consistent with the goals and principles recommended above.

Question 11b: Private, governmental, or quasi-governmental?

USPS Response:

See USPS Response to Question 11a.

Question 11c: For profit or not-for-profit?

USPS Response:

See USPS Response to Question 11a.

Question 11d: What are the advantages and disadvantages of using one type of entity (private, public, for profit, not-for-profit) over the others?

USPS Response:

See USPS Response to Question 11a.

Attachment A

Before the

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

NATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION

Washington, D.C.

Request for Comments on the

Enhancement of the .us Domain Space

Docket No. 980212036-8172-03

COMMENTS OF THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE

Pursuant to the Public Notice released August 4, 1998, the United States Postal Service ("Postal Service") respectfully submits its comments to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration ("NTIA") on the enhancement of the .us Domain Space. The Postal Service commends NTIA's leadership on these issues and welcomes the opportunity to provide its comments.

I. Introduction

In response to the "Request for Public Comment on the Enhancement of the .us Domain Space," the United States Postal Service is prepared to coordinate the administration of the .us Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) with direct input and participation from Internet stakeholders. Throughout the history of the United States, the Postal Service has played a pivotal role in supporting infrastructure to ensure universal delivery of correspondence and commerce for the nation. In the 1770s, the Continental Congress established the Post Office to help bind the new nation together, support the growth of commerce, and ensure a free flow of ideas and information. Two centuries later, the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 reaffirmed the mission of the Postal Service "to bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people." By coordinating the organization, development, and administration of the .us ccTLD on behalf of this nation's residents, the Postal Service will continue its mandate to facilitate correspondence in the 21st century and beyond.

II. Attributes for Coordinating the Administration of the .us ccTLD

Administering ccTLDs needs the leadership of an organization that has multiple attributes:

· A firm commitment to public service;

· Trusted status and credibility with key stakeholders;

· Fair and open decision making procedures that are subject to public scrutiny and input;

· The ability to coordinate administration of the .us ccTLD on a cost recovery basis;

· The ability to facilitate access to an efficient and equitable dispute resolution process; and

· Resources to manage domain name administration and technical issues.

III. The Postal Service's Capabilities

The Postal Service is uniquely qualified to foster widespread personal and commercial use of the .us ccTLD and commit resources to coordinate the administration of the .us ccTLD. Specifically, the Postal Service:

· Can maintain consistency of policy across .us ccTLD and preserve its mandate to serve the public;

· Has built a bond of trust with the people it serves by ensuring privacy and security of correspondences;

· Has a system of public oversight and is subject to inquiry by Congress. The Postal Service is an independent establishment of the executive branch, subject to sunshine and public disclosure guidelines that provide public input to Postal Service policies. It is able to utilize the Federal Register Notice process as a vehicle for receiving public comments from stakeholders about proposed rules and operations.

· Has a history of developing public infrastructure on a cost recovery basis;

· Has demonstrated expertise in managing information infrastructure. It manages and keeps current a database of 135 million physical addresses for which it has responsibilities under law and tradition for protecting privacy. Additionally, the Postal Service has one primary and 16 secondary domain name servers which handle over 125,000 host names using a Class A IP license (a license to use over sixteen million IP addresses).

IV. Proposal to Coordinate the Administration of the .us ccTLD

The Postal Service will coordinate with Internet stakeholders the development of fair and open policies and procedures for administering .us ccTLD. This will include, but is not limited to:

· Applying the Postal Service knowledge of fair and effective governance structures that support decision making and robust deliberation among stakeholders. One example is the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC), a forum for mailers to participate in relevant decision making processes;

· Leveraging the Postal Service's experience in large-scale information systems management to facilitate development of a robust and efficient domain name structure within .us ccTLD;

· Maintaining current .us domain names.

V. Proposal to Enhance the .us ccTLD

The Postal Service proposes to develop infrastructure to enable electronic commerce within the .us ccTLD. The following are several potential enhancements:

· The Postal Service could provide universal, private, and secure electronic addresses for all residents in the United States;

· The Postal Service could enhance electronic addresses by linking them to physical delivery addresses. This would be done within its responsibilities under law and tradition for protecting privacy;

· The Postal Service could combine legal protections and technology to ensure that users are able to control the flow of commercial communications through a protected address;

· The Postal Service would coordinate private sector involvement in the development of a classification system for the second-level domain names. This naming system may be based on major functional groupings for businesses and other entities. Possible reference models for classification may include, but are not limited to, the Patent and Trademark Office or Yellow Pages classification systems.

VI. Conclusion

The Postal Service currently ensures the delivery of over 190 billion pieces of mail a year through its large-scale infrastructure and delivery system. It has a history as a trusted public service entity, serving all residents of the United States. If the public's interest is best served by Postal Service coordination of the .us ccTLD, the Postal Service would leverage its expertise and attributes to coordinate the .us ccTLD in a manner that would protect privacy and enhance this part of the Internet.

###

Before the

NATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION

Department of Commerce

Washington, DC 20230

In the Matter of )

)

) Docket No. 980212036-8172-03

)

Enhancement of the .us Domain Space )

COMMENTS OF THE COMMERCIAL INTERNET EXCHANGE ASSOCIATION (CIX)

Robert Collet

Chairman of the Board

Barbara A. Dooley

Executive Director

Eric Lee

Public Policy Director

1040 Sterling Road

Suite 104A

Herndon, VA 20170

(703) 709-8200

Dated: October 2, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

I. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY……………………………………1

II. BACKGROUND………………………………………………………….3

III. COUNTRY-CODE TLD REFORMS ELSEWHERE PROVIDE

EXAMPLES OF SUCCESSFUL ENHANCEMENTS…………………5

IV QUESTIONS FOR PUBLIC COMMENT…………………………….…6

V. CONCLUSION……………………………………………………………10

COMMENTS OF THE COMMERCIAL INTERNET EXCHANGE ASSOCIATION (CIX) ON THE ENHANCEMENT OF THE ".us" DOMAIN SPACE

Before the National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Department of Commerce

Docket No. 980212036-8172-03

I.INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY

The Commercial Internet eXchange Association (CIX) appreciates the opportunity to comment on future expansion and administration of the ".us" domain space. CIX initially commented on this subject in its August 18, 1997, response to the NTIA's Notice of Inquiry. In that filing, CIX noted that the shortage of attractive name space in the most popular generic Top Level Domain (gTLD), ".com" - and hence the demand for additional gTLDs - could be traced partly to problems caused by the design, supervision, and administration of the ".us" country-code Top Level Domain (ccTLD). Several other commentators also have noted the lack of interest in the ".us" name space.

CIX also made several other points in its August 18, 1997, submission:

· The US should undertake a fundamental reform of the ".us" top level domain in a manner that reflects the leadership of the US in the Internet and information technology and sets a standard for the rest of the world.

· Administration of the ".us" ccTLD should incorporate commercial principles and be designed to facilitate the widest possible array of reasonable uses, especially publishing and electronic commerce, within the domain. At a minimum, the ".us" domain should be thoroughly redesigned with participation from the commercial sector to attract business users to second level domains (SLDs).

Experience since CIX's initial filing affirms the basic soundness of these views. CIX urges the United States Government (USG) to initiate a comprehensive effort to enhance and reform this name space so that pressures on gTLDs can be relieved and the ".us" name space can assume its rightful national role within the overall DNS.

CIX's major points about the issues raised in the NTIA's Request for Comments are as follows:

1. The USG's primary objective should be to construct an effective policymaking framework rather than to decide all the policy issues raised in the RFC.

2. The USG should consider favorably the successful reforms achieved abroad, particularly in the United Kingdom and Canada, as well as the best practices and policies of other national administrative entities.

3. Enhancement of the ".us" domain space should be led by the private sector and be determined by market conditions.

4. Effective enhancement may require significant changes in the current design, organization, and administration of the space.

Since the NTIA first solicited comments on the DNS one year ago, there has been a great deal of positive, open debate internationally about the DNS, gTLDs, and, to a lesser extent, ccTLDs. We have witnessed the publication of the USG's Green Paper and White Paper, papers in the European Union and Japan, and emergence of the International Forum on the White Paper process (), a private sector initiative organized to expedite the transfer of the USG's legal authority over the DNS and IP addresses to a private international entity.

While the debate over reform of the ".us" name space will be primarily domestic, it could have international ramifications for the reason already described - namely, the enormous impact of American registrants on the popular gTLDs and the corresponding under-utilization of the ".us" name space. In addition to relieving pressure on gTLDs, a more robust ".us" ccTLD could help to mitigate international trademark disputes as disagreements would be settled by US courts employing US laws.

The enhancement of the ".us" domain space should be considered apart from the current effort to transfer responsibility for IP address and DNS management because they involve far different legal and political circumstances. For example, it may be appropriate that the USG have a different role relative to the ".us" domain space since it does not directly involve the global Internet. The practices and organization of other countries, new technologies, and the evolution of the US Internet market may be more relevant to this docket's issues than the establishment of the new supervisory corporation.

Enhancement of the ".us" space may entail fundamental changes to its existing organization, design, and management. This possibility should not preclude such reforms, but it should result in broad discussions involving current and prospective stakeholders to ensure that a rough consensus emerges.

The four basic administrative principles identified in the Green and White Papers for the new entity are valid and applicable to the instant docket. Management should seek to achieve the following four goals for the ".us" name space: stability; competition; private, bottoms-up coordination; and representation from the entire Internet community. Properly organized and managed, the ".us" domain could be a model for the rest of the world. Failure will symbolize a missed opportunity to use fully a valuable resource for the benefit of the US Internet community.

In the long-term, it is likely that a unified Internet directory will be developed and supplant DNS technology because directory service would be a superior locator and networking tool.(1) Until that time, the Internet community will continue to work with the DNS. It is imperative that the ".us" domain space be optimized for the entire Internet community. In particular, it should be adapted so that it can easily support electronic commerce and other applications desired by consumers. In short, market conditions created by Internet customers rather than top down planning should shape the topology and administration of this name space.

II. BACKGROUND

The history and structure of the ".us" domain are described briefly in , and . The decision to create a locality-based hierarchy was made in 1993 before the first phase of the Internet's privatization was completed in 1995 and the explosive growth of the commercial World Wide Web. It is not surprising, therefore, that the design and organization of the ".us" domain space does not mirror the subsequent evolution of the Internet market or users' needs.

The Statement of Policy (White Paper) of June 10, 1998, noted that national governments would continue to have authority to manage or establish policy over their own ccTLDs.(2)

The global growth of the commercial DNS market apparently has led to an increased use of ccTLDs.(3) This phenomenon is not true in the United States, where growth and attention focus on generic names rather than in the ".us" space.

To CIX's knowledge, no marketing study has been undertaken to determine the reasons for the disinterest in the ".us" name space. Any candid comparison between design of ".us" and other national domains must consider its geopolitical structure and complex nomenclature as impediments to its use. In contrast to the simpler, familiar systems found in Australia or the United Kingdom, for example, there is no second level domain (SLD) in the ".us" domain space dedicated to business use. Even if a firm or organization were inclined to register under ".us", it would be circumscribed by town or city and state names, which could complicate user mobility and lead to confusion.

The market has demonstrated an unequivocal preference by American registrants for gTLDs, not simply because of their easy availability as implied by the Request for Comments(4) but probably also because of the complexity and structural deficiencies of the ".us" name space. From available evidence, one cannot determine if registrants in ".us" domain space receive responsive, innovative service from registries and registrars or if the underlying registration infrastructure serves current ".us" registrants well and could be extended to serve additional potential customers though anecdotal evidence says otherwise.

If interest in the ".us" domain can be measured using visits to the administrator's policy site as a proxy, visitors to ".us" sites are relatively few in number. Recounting a lack of interest is not to disparage its supervisor since few people in 1993 could have foreseen the Internet's explosive growth, its commercial appeal or its global expansion. Rather, the historical record should encourage stakeholders to undertake fundamental reforms to free this resource.

III. COUNTRY-CODE TLD REFORMS ELSEWHERE PROVIDE EXAMPLES OF SUCCESSFUL ENHANCEMENTS.

The United States is not the first country to confront a need to reform its national TLD. Two other advanced industrialized nations - Canada and the United Kingdom - recently undertook similar efforts. The effort in the UK entailed several months of discussion and debate in 1996, resulting in the creation of a not-for-profit cooperative, Nominet UK, in August, 1996.(5)

Discussion about the reform of ".ca" can be found on the World Wide Web at a site entitled "Public Consultation on the Administration of the Canadian Internet Domain Name ".ca" by the Canadian Domain Name Consultative Committee at . The Canadian initiative began in June, 1997, and is nearing completion.

These two examples share several common characteristics.

First, ISPs played a crucial role in the creation of Nominet and the Canadian reform.

Second, the reforms were the result of widespread community agreement on the need for drastic changes. Indeed, as the background posted at the Nominet UK site states that it derives its authority from the Internet industry in the United Kingdom.

Third, the reforms were the result of open discussions involving multiple stakeholders representing many different interest groups.

The United States should be prepared to undertake extensive reform if necessary as it commences this review and comment period. Experience with the White Paper has demonstrated that priority should go to creating a decision and policy making framework rather than to deciding specific policies immediately. CIX recommends that the US Government consider adopting a process for comment and planning similar to those set up in Canada and the UK.

IV. QUESTIONS FOR PUBLIC COMMENT

1. CIX believes that the current geopolitical hierarchy is awkward and restrictive. The disadvantages arising from the current locality-based structure are obvious in a mobile, dynamic society like the United States. Institutions and individuals move, change and disappear while a geographic topology suggests stasis. With respect to the Internet, it is the network location that matters, not a fixed geographical address. There is scant evidence that state or municipal jurisdictions want or need geopolitical designations on the Internet.

2. The domain space should be organized to deliver value and efficient, innovative services to customers. One administrative model could be Nominet UK, the national registry of the United Kingdom. It is a not-for-profit corporation whose members are drawn mostly from the Internet industry. It also operates the registry for a limited number of popular SLDs, while other British organizations perform that service for less popular SLDs. ISPs and other firms then compete to provide registration and value-added network services.

There is no need for the registry to be not-for-profit as long as profits are dedicated to support Internet infrastructure activities. Administrative models besides Nominet UK can succeed as long as the administrative body is flexible, market-oriented, and sensitive to the commercial sector's needs and its business model is scaleable to the US Internet market. Decisions about SLD names and the exact design of the domain space should be made by the reconstituted administrative entity and its members, if any.

While it may be necessary to have a monopoly registry, registration service can and should be provided on a competitive, non-exclusive basis, open to all qualified parties capable of performing that service at a market-determined rate.

3. Question three poses two distinct, detailed questions. First, it is premature to determine whether special-purpose SLDs should be created and, if so, what these should be. As in the case of gTLDs, CIX believes that the administrative entity that is created with the consent and agreement of the US Internet community to administer the name space and its members should have the responsibility for determining the processes and terms and conditions for creating new SLDs.

With regard to mapping, locator network information is likely to be made available through a unified global Internet directory, which is already the subject of study and developmental work. Names and IP addresses point to network nodes rather than geographical locations. Accordingly it is inadvisable to restructure the ".us" domain with addresses and telephone numbers, URL or other types of information that could become quickly dated.

4. The redesign of ".us" as the equivalent of an unrestricted TLD would be in keeping with the practices of other NICs. The benefit of using SLDs such as ".com" is the public's familiarity with these terms. CIX commends the examples of Canada, the UK, and Australia, which employ broad, familiar SLDs. The US could either follow their example or leave such decisions to the new administrator(s). It is, in all events, premature to predict the market demand for the ".us" space and its SLDs and to make nomenclature decisions now.

5. Under the new supervisory entity for gTLDs, the Board of Directors will set overall corporate policy, arbitrate certain disputes, and review the policies of supporting organizations. There would also be a Names Council under the Domain Names Supporting Organization. CIX believes that this and other national models such as Nominet UK can provide workable models for a reformed ".us" space. Disputes over claims to manage a new subdomain could be resolved by the administrative entity's board of directors.

6. The current principle of "first come, first served" should be observed. Internet practices rather than trademark law should be controlling. Optional and alternative dispute settlement services can be made available through the administrative corporation (e.g., Nominet UK). However, as this will be a national space subject to US laws, it should be possible to install other safeguards to protect trademark holders' and consumers' rights and avoid vexing problems like conflict of laws and international jurisdiction. It is essential to ensure that the dispute settlement mechanisms employed in the restructured domain and the proposed WIPO processes be consistent.

7. Enhancement of the ".us" domain space should benefit the national Internet community. There is little available evidence to suggest that a change in the locality-based hierarchy would damage state or municipal bodies, but such organizations should have a full opportunity to make a contrary case. The basic structure was created in 1993 by RFC 1480 before the deployment of the World Wide Web and the commercial Internet. Accordingly a fundamental reexamination of design and policies should be undertaken to determine the appropriate roles of political jurisdictions.

8. Additional evidence is needed to judge the performance of private registrars on an exclusive basis although it is alleged that some have exited the business without proper customer support in place. As a general proposition, competition is preferable to monopoly. CIX thus believes that, absent a strong showing to the contrary, registration throughout the entire ".us" space should be open to competition.

9. Financial questions can be resolved after a framework is in place. Multiple financial models might be appropriate, including the new gTLD supervisory company. The managing entity could charge fees registry services and other value-added services and products it may create provided that it does not compete with registrars or customers.

Market conditions should dictate registration prices rather than setting a uniform rate set by the registry or registrars.

10. CIX strongly endorses the four principles that were advocated in the White Paper and described above. Competitive market-based policies should be pursued wherever possible. Since it is possible to go to extremes, for example, with respect to representation, it is necessary to adopt practical governance practices to ensure procedural advance.

11. As the President's Report "A Framework for Global Electronic Commerce" recognized, the private sector is best positioned to lead in the expansion of electronic commerce. There are several examples of successful private administrative bodies such as Nominet UK for the US to study. It would further appear that membership in the administrative corporation is a reasonable criterion to ensure that stakeholders are committed and enjoy significant support within the Internet community. The administering entity does not have to be a non-profit as long as any profits are reinvested to support ".us" domain infrastructure activities.

The USG will have continuing important roles to play since the ".us" domain space differs from the global Internet resources which are in the process of being privatized. It will remain the ultimate guarantor of network stability. It could also continue its oversight role over the administrative corporation to ensure competition in the provision of services and to prevent interest groups from exercising undue influence over it to the detriment of all US Internet users. It may also be feasible for an executive agency to "anchor" the administrator through an ongoing legal relationship. In short, the private sector-government relationship can be fruitful and positive.

V. SUMMARY

CIX supports the effort to enhance the ".us" domain space. This initiative must be conducted with no preconditions or commitment to the legacy system that has not been successful in the market. Rather, CIX urges that applicable international norms be adopted wherever appropriate and that the resulting plan promote stability in the medium-to-long term, encourage competition, reflect diverse views, be flexible and market oriented, and involve the wide variety of responsible US Internet stakeholders.

Rather than adopt specific policy changes at this time, CIX advocates that the reform process begin with a candid assessment of the current ".us" market. It is imperative that a framework be adopted so that decisions can be made in due course after the input of major stakeholders. The experience of other nations proves that effective reform can succeed with good will, cooperation, and coordination.

Respectfully Submitted,

__________________

Robert Collet

Barbara A. Dooley

Eric Lee

Commercial Internet eXchange Association (CIX)

1040 Sterling Road

Herndon, VA 20170

(703) 709-8200

1. 1. NTIA, A Proposal to Improve the Technical Management of Internet Names and Addresses, p. 11,

July 2, 1997, at .

2. 2. NTIA, Management of Internet names and Addresses, p. 10, 63 Fed. Reg. 3174 (1998) at .

3 OECD, Internet Domain Names: Allocation Policies, (97) 207, pp. 11-12.

3. 3. OECD, Internet Domain Names: Allocation Policies, (97) 207, pp. 11-12.

4. 4. , p. 4.

5. 5. This effort is described at the Web site .