CONTACT: Paige Darden
(202) 482-7002


WASHINGTON, DC -- The Commerce Department today released a draft proposal suggesting ways to improve the current management of Internet names and addresses by establishing a private sector policy oversight body and introducing competition into the domain name registration system. The paper is available on the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration's website at

The draft proposal is intended to elicit comment from the stakeholder community and will be published in the Federal Register to give all interested parties an opportunity to participate in the process. "We expect that this proposal will spark a lively debate, requiring thoughtful analysis. But, we are hopeful that reasonable consensus can be found and that, after appropriate modifications, implementation can begin in April 1998," said J. Beckwith Burr, associate administrator, NTIA, Office of International Affairs (OIA). Comments should be mailed to U.S. Department of Commerce, NTIA/OIA, 14th and Constitution, NW, Room 4701, Washington, DC 20230 or e-mailed to (The Federal Register notice will establish the official deadline for when comments must be received.)

"Our goal is to transition to private sector management of Internet names and addresses in a way that maintains the stability of the Internet; that is competitive, encouraging innovation and maximizing individual freedom; that results in private, bottom-up coordination; and that reflects that diversity of the Internet's users and their needs," said Burr.

In order to achieve these goals, today's proposal would privatize the management of Internet names and addresses through the creation of a new not-for-profit corporation. This organization would set policy for the allocation of number blocks to regional number registries; oversee operation of the root server system; determine when new top-level-domain names should be added to the root system; and coordinate development of protocol parameters for the Internet. It also proposes to create competition among registries that manage top-level domains and among registrars who provide services to Internet end users; and terminate the existing surcharge on Internet registration now allocated to the Internet Intellectual Infrastructure Fund.

The proposal is an outgrowth of the Clinton Administration's Framework for Global Electronic Commerce, which was released by President Clinton in July 1997. At that time, the President directed the Commerce Department to seek ways to privatize, increase competition in, and promote international participation in the domain name system in order to reach the full potential of electronic commerce.

In the Fall, the Commerce Department sought public input on issues relating to the overall framework for the registration of domain names, the creation of new top level domains, policies for registrars, and trademark issues. Over 430 comments were received, amounting to nearly 1500 pages, in response to this request. Today's discussion draft was shaped by this public input.

NTIA serves as the principal adviser to the executive branch on domestic and international telecommunications issues. To receive a hard copy of the draft proposal, please contact Mary Wallach, NTIA Public Affairs, at 202-482-3999.