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Request for Comments on the Registration and Administration of Internet Domain Names

Docket Number
Docket No. 970613137-7137-01

[Federal Register: July 2, 1997 (Volume 62, Number 127)]
[Page 35895-35897]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []

[[Page 35895]]


Part II

Department of Commerce


Request for Comments on the Registration and Administration of Internet 
Domain Names; Notice

[[Page 35896]]


[Docket No. 970613137-7137-01]

Request for Comments on the Registration and Administration of 
Internet Domain Names

AGENCY: Department of Commerce.

ACTION: Notice; request for public comment.


SUMMARY: The Department of Commerce requests comments on the current 
and future system(s) for the registration of Internet domain names. The 
Department invites the public to submit written comments in paper or 
electronic form.<SUP>1</SUP>

    \1\ This request for public comment is not intended to supplant 
or otherwise affect the work of other public advisory groups, 
established under law.

DATES: Comments must be received by August 18, 1997.

ADDRESSES: Mail written comments to Patrice Washington, Office of 
Public Affairs, National Telecommunications and Information 
Administration (NTIA), Room 4898, 14th St. and Constitution Ave., NW, 
Washington, DC 20230. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for electronic 
access and filing addresses and further information on submitting 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paula Bruening, NTIA, (202) 482-1816.


Electronic Access and Filing Addresses

    The address for comments submitted in electronic form is Comments submitted in electronic form should be in 
WordPerfect, Microsoft Word, or ASCII format. Detailed information 
about electronic filing is available on the NTIA website, http://

Further Information on Submitting Comments

    Submit written comments in paper or electronic form at the above 
addresses. Paper submissions should include three paper copies and a 
version on diskette in the formats specified above. To assist 
reviewers, comments should be numbered and organized in response to 
questions in accordance with the five sections of this notice 
(Appropriate Principles, General/Organizational Framework Issues, 
Creation of New gTLDs, Policies for Registries, and Trademark Issues). 
Commenters should address each section on a separate page and should 
indicate at the beginning of their submission to which questions they 
are responding.


    The rapid growth in the use of the Internet has led to increasing 
public concern about the current Internet domain name registration 
systems. According to Internet Monthly Report, registration of domain 
names within a few top-level domains (.com, .net, .org) has increased 
from approximately 400 per month in 1993 to as many as 70,000 per month 
in 1996, the overwhelming majority in the .com category. The enormous 
growth and commercialization of the Internet has raised numerous 
questions about current domain name registration systems. In addition, 
the present system will likely undergo modification when the National 
Science Foundation's cooperative agreement (NSF agreement) with Network 
Solutions Inc. to register and administer second-level domains for 
three top-level domains expires in 1998. Resolution of these issues 
will also affect the future operation of the National Information 
Infrastructure (NII) and the Global Information Infrastructure (GII).
    The United States Government played a central role in the initial 
development, deployment, and operation of domain name registration 
systems, and through the NSF agreement as well as Defense Advanced 
Research Projects Agency (DARPA) agreement(s) continues to play a role. 
In recent years, however, Internet expansion has been driven primarily 
by the private sector. The Internet has operated by consensus rather 
than by government regulation. Many believe that the Internet's 
decentralized structure accounts at least in part for its rapid growth.
    The Government has supported the privatization and 
commercialization of the Internet through actions such as the 
transition from the NSFNET backbone to commercial backbones. The 
Government supports continued private sector leadership for the 
Internet and believes that the transition to private sector control 
should continue. The stability of the Internet depends on a fully 
interconnected and interoperable domain name system that must be 
preserved during any transition.
    Various private sector groups have proposed systems for allocating 
and managing generic top level domains (gTLDs). The Government is 
studying the proposals and the underlying issues to determine what 
role, if any, it should play. The Government has not endorsed any plan 
at this time but believes that it is very important to reach consensus 
on these policy issues as soon as possible.
    The United States Government seeks the views of the public 
regarding these proposals and broader policy issues as well. 
Specifically, the Government seeks information on the following issues:

A. Appropriate Principles

    The Government seeks comment on the principles by which it should 
evaluate proposals for the registration and administration of Internet 
domain names. Are the following principles appropriate? Are they 
complete? If not, how should they be revised? How might such principles 
best be fostered?
    a. Competition in and expansion of the domain name registration 
system should be encouraged. Conflicting domains, systems, and 
registries should not be permitted to jeopardize the interoperation of 
the Internet, however. The addressing scheme should not prevent any 
user from connecting to any other site.
    b. The private sector, with input from governments, should develop 
stable, consensus-based self-governing mechanisms for domain name 
registration and management that adequately defines responsibilities 
and maintains accountability.
    c. These self-governance mechanisms should recognize the inherently 
global nature of the Internet and be able to evolve as necessary over 
    d. The overall framework for accommodating competition should be 
open, robust, efficient, and fair.
    e. The overall policy framework as well as name allocation and 
management mechanisms should promote prompt, fair, and efficient 
resolution of conflicts, including conflicts over proprietary rights.
    f. A framework should be adopted as quickly as prudent 
consideration of these issues permits.

B. General/Organizational Framework Issues

    1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of current domain name 
registration systems?
    2. How might current domain name systems be improved?
    3. By what entity, entities, or types of entities should current 
domain name systems be administered? What should the makeup of such an 
entity be?
    4. Are there decision-making processes that can serve as models for 
deciding on domain name registration systems (e.g., network numbering 
plan, standard-setting processes, spectrum allocation)? Are there 
private/public sector administered models or regimes that can be used 
for domain name registration (e.g., network numbering plan, standard 
setting processes, or

[[Page 35897]]

spectrum allocation processes)? What is the proper role of national or 
international governmental/non-governmental organizations, if any, in 
national and international domain name registration systems?
    5. Should generic top level domains (gTLDs), (e.g., .com), be 
retired from circulation? Should geographic or country codes (e.g., 
.US) be required? If so, what should happen to the .com registry? Are 
gTLD management issues separable from questions about International 
Standards Organization (ISO) country code domains?
    6. Are there any technological solutions to current domain name 
registration issues? Are there any issues concerning the relationship 
of registrars and gTLDs with root servers?
    7. How can we ensure the scalability of the domain name system name 
and address spaces as well as ensure that root servers continue to 
interoperate and coordinate?
    8. How should the transition to any new systems be accomplished?
    9. Are there any other issues that should be addressed in this 

C. Creation of New gTLDs

    10. Are there technical, practical, and/or policy considerations 
that constrain the total number of different gTLDs that can be created?
    11. Should additional gTLDs be created?
    12. Are there technical, business, and/or policy issues about 
guaranteeing the scalability of the name space associated with 
increasing the number of gTLDs?
    13. Are gTLD management issues separable from questions about ISO 
country code domains?
    14. Are there any other issues that should be addressed in this 

D. Policies for Registries

    15. Should a gTLD registrar have exclusive control over a 
particular gTLD? Are there any technical limitations on using shared 
registries for some or all gTLDs? Can exclusive and non-exclusive gTLDs 
    16. Should there be threshold requirements for domain name 
registrars, and what responsibilities should such registrars have? Who 
will determine these and how?
    17. Are there technical limitations on the possible number of 
domain name registrars?
    18. Are there technical, business and/or policy issues about the 
name space raised by increasing the number of domain name registrars?
    19. Should there be a limit on the number of different gTLDs a 
given registrar can administer? Does this depend on whether the 
registrar has exclusive or non-exclusive rights to the gTLD?
    20. Are there any other issues that should be addressed in this 

E. Trademark Issues

    21. What trademark rights (e.g., registered trademarks, common law 
trademarks, geographic indications, etc.), if any, should be protected 
on the Internet vis-a-vis domain names?
    22. Should some process of preliminary review of an application for 
registration of a domain name be required, before allocation, to 
determine if it conflicts with a trademark, a trade name, a geographic 
indication, etc.? If so, what standards should be used? Who should 
conduct the preliminary review? If a conflict is found, what should be 
done, e.g., domain name applicant and/or trademark owner notified of 
the conflict? Automatic referral to dispute settlement?
    23. Aside from a preliminary review process, how should trademark 
rights be protected on the Internet vis-a-vis domain names? What 
entity(ies), if any, should resolve disputes? Are national courts the 
only appropriate forum for such disputes? Specifically, is there a role 
for national/international governmental/nongovernmental organizations?
    24. How can conflicts over trademarks best be prevented? What 
information resources (e.g. databases of registered domain names, 
registered trademarks, trade names) could help reduce potential 
conflicts? If there should be a database(s), who should create the 
database(s)? How should such a database(s) be used?
    25. Should domain name applicants be required to demonstrate that 
they have a basis for requesting a particular domain name? If so, what 
information should be supplied? Who should evaluate the information? On 
the basis of what criteria?
    26. How would the number of different gTLDs and the number of 
registrars affect the number and cost of resolving trademark disputes?
    27. Where there are valid, but conflicting trademark rights for a 
single domain name, are there any technological solutions?
    28. Are there any other issues that should be addressed in this 
William M. Daley,
[FR Doc. 97-17215 Filed 7-1-97; 8:45 am]

July 02, 1997