October 6, 1998
Office of International Affairs
National Telecommunications and
U.S. Department of Commerce
14th and Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20230
Re: Enhancement of the .us Domain
Space; Dkt. No. 980212036-8172-03
Dear Ms. Rose:
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), by its undersigned counsel, hereby submits these comments in the above-referenced proceeding. In particular, the CNMI requests that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) expressly clarify in future publications regarding this subject that the .us domain space also encompasses U.S. commonwealths.
The CNMI is a U.S. commonwealth consisting of fourteen islands located in the North Pacific Ocean, approximately 1,500 miles south of Tokyo, 1,400 miles east of Manila and 3,200 miles west of Honolulu. See <http://www.cnmilaw.org/htmlpage/hpg02.htm>. The total land area of the CNMI is slightly larger than 2.5 times the size of the District of Columbia. The populated islands of the CNMI (i.e., Saipan, Tinian and Rota) have a population which has grown fourfold in seventeen years and now approaches 65,000 persons. Id.
The CNMI is a self-governing commonwealth in political union with and under the sovereignty of the United States. The relationship between the CNMI and the U.S. is governed by the "Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States of America." See 48 U.S.C. §1801 note, approved by Congress in Public Law 94-241 (March 24, 1976), 90 Stat. 263 (Covenant). Among other things, the Covenant provides that persons born in the CNMI both before and after it took effect are citizens of the U.S. Subject to certain exceptions, federal law applies to the Commonwealth.
NTIA Should Clarify That U.S. Commonwealths
are Encompassed by the .us Domain Space
Throughout its "Request for Comments on the Enhancement of the .us Domain Space" issued on August 8, 1998 (Request), NTIA refers to the registry for .us domain space as a locality based hierarchy in which second level domain space is allocated to "states and U.S. territories." Request at 1. NTIA has also previously associated the .us domain space with "states and territories" in previous publications. See, e.g., Statement of Policy on DNS Administration, 63 Fed. Reg. 31741 (1988).
While the CNMI has not yet acted to establish a state domain under the .us domain space, it is probable that it will do so in the near future. Significantly, another U.S. commonwealth, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, already has a state domain under the .us domain space. See <http://www.isi.edu/in-notes/us-domian-delegated.txt>.
Being included under the .us domain space to the same extent as other U.S. states and territories is important to the CNMI given its distant geographic location from the U.S. mainland. Indeed, many citizens in the mainland U.S. do not realize that the CNMI is a U.S. commonwealth. The rapid growth of the Internet combined with sharply declining long distance telecommunications rates offer unparalleled opportunities to minimize the barriers which distance has historically posed between the mainland U.S. and the CNMI. Full inclusion in the .us domain space has the potential to facilitate closer economic, political and social ties between the CNMI and mainland U.S. Therefore, it is important that the CNMI not inadvertently be excluded from the .us domain space. Similarly, it is important that the CNMI be publicly perceived (both in the U.S. and abroad) to be part of the .us domain space and hence, a U.S. jurisdiction. The phrase which NTIA has utilized to date (i.e., "states and territories") creates the public perception that U.S. commonwealths are not covered by the scope of the .us domain space.
Accordingly, the CNMI requests that NTIA expressly clarify in future publications regarding this subject that the .us domain space also encompasses U.S. commonwealths. For example, NTIA may simply wish to modify the phrase in future publications addressing this matter to read, "states, territories and commonwealths". Nevertheless, continued use of the phrase "states and territories" risks creating the erroneous impression that the CNMI (and Puerto Rico, for that matter) are not encompassed by the .us domain space.
Kindly direct any questions regarding this matter to the undersigned.
Thomas K. Crowe,
Counsel for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
cc: Larry Irving, Assistant Secretary