Educational CyberPlayGround ®

New Domain System Starts To Take Shape

From: Russell Nelson
Date: Tue, 30 Apr 2002 01:48:13 -0400 (EDT)

A few interesting statistics about the three-letter second-level .us domain names:

There are 47952 possible three-letter/digit/dash names.

Of them, 8886, or 18% of these names have already been taken[1].

Of them, 7404, or 15% of these names are owned by just 20 companies.

Of them, 2705, or 5% of these names are owned by a single company.

There are 17576 possible three-letter names.
Of them, 7968, or 45% of these names are already taken., (David J. Farber) is already taken., (Russell N. Nelson) is already taken., (Alan B. Davidson) is already taken.
Woe unto anyone who wants a .us vanity domain!

[1] based on the existance of NS records in the .us zone.

The Honorable Ernest F. Hollings
United States Senate

The Honorable John McCain
United States Senate

The Honorable W.J. "Billy" Tauzin
U.S. House of Representatives

The Honorable John D. Dingell
U.S. House of Representatives

April 29, 2002

Dear Chairman Hollings, Senator McCain, Chairman Tauzin and Rep. Dingell:

We are writing to express our grave concern over recent developments in the .us Internet domain. Last week, unbeknownst to most Americans, a major "sell-off" was held for domain names in .us, such as Thousands of names - many of which are of significant public interest - were sold off based on flawed policies developed with almost no public input or public accountability. We urge you, as part of your oversight responsibilities, to hold hearings investigating this matter.

The .us domain is America's one and only country code - a uniquely American resource and public asset on the Internet. While .us has not been widely used by consumers to date, the Commerce Department's decision to delegate the domain to a new operator last year held out the promise to reinvigorate .us and make it more useful to individual and business users. It also held out the promise of a place on the Internet directly related to US activities, where, for example, American churches might register a name in or where American consumers could find non-profit groups in

Policies for .us must be developed in a way that includes the interests of American Internet users. Many of the companies that competed for the .us contract committed to building structures of outreach and representation for that purpose. NeuStar, the company ultimately granted the .us domain, itself promised to "develop open policies and procedures with a high degree of responsiveness and accountability to the usTLD community."

That promise has not been met. Among the most serious causes for concern in last week's sell-off of .us names:

  • The public was virtually unaware of the .us sell-off. The American Internet community is the world's largest and most active, yet, with the exception of dedicated name speculators and other savvy buyers, the general public was almost entirely uninformed about the .us redelegation and re-opening. This lack of awareness permitted .us to become a lucrative business opportunity for those "in the know" at the expense of the public good.
  • The policies set for .us harm the public interest. The preliminary ground rules for .us have a critical impact on American consumers. However, NeuStar has crafted rules without consultation with, or even notice to, most consumers. Nearly all registration occurs on a "first-come/first-served" basis, with the exception of a "sunrise" period for trademark holders (one of the few public policy requirements made by the Department of Commerce). In the absence of controls, the first-come/first-served policy has led to an Internet "land rush" for the most desirable names and a general lack of structure in .us.
  • The .us "reserved name" policy is arbitrary and deeply flawed. NeuStar did prevent the registration this week of 51,922 domains on its "reserved names" list, presumably to achieve some future public purpose or avoid conflicts. But this controversial list was created behind closed doors and ignores a number of important public interests.

For example:

Many valuable names were unreserved, and were snapped up by private parties who may not recognize, or who may seek to profit from, their public importance. For example, names like,,,,, and even were not reserved. They are now in the hands of private parties, removing hopes of creating a more structured use of those names, and giving those parties control over how valued American institutions or assets are perceived online.

NeuStar's plans for some reserved names, such as or, are unknown, and the public had no voice in their selection.

Some politically significant names were reserved but not others. Both and were reserved, but and were not and are now registered to name speculators. was reserved but not (now registered to a speculator). And though is reserved, was not (now registered to a speculator).

  • American consumer interests have been largely excluded from the .us policy process. Although NeuStar agreed in its contract that the diverse American Internet community would be included in policy-making for .us, that has not been true to date. A "Policy Advisory Council" was announced only just last week, and has apparently not been consulted on any of the major policy decisions already made for .us. Moreover, that Council is heavily skewed away from individual consumer interests, with only one identifiable consumer voice (the American Library Association, which also represents legacy library users) appointed. As constituted, the Council is dominated by commercial and operator interests.

America's .us Internet domain space is a national resource of significant value. It should not be managed without respect for the public's interests. We believe in marketplace mechanisms, but there also must be a role for the public's interests in the management of public resources like the .us domain. And while it will be very difficult to roll back the sell-off of .us domains that occurred last week, we think it is essential that a process be put in place to include public input and accountability in future .us management.

We urge you to actively continue your oversight on this matter and look forward to working with you to promote the interests of all Americans online.


Jerry Berman
Executive Director
Center for Democracy and Technology

Scott Harshbarger
Common Cause

Andrew J. Schwartzman
Media Access Project


87 registrars to oversee .web, .store, others By Todd Spangler October 27, 1997
An Internet governance body that has been working to create seven new Internet top-level domain names said last week it had selected 87 companies--many of them major international players and only a third of them from the United States--to act as registrars for the new system. They include MindSpring Inc., an American ISP, France Telecom, and the China Network Information Center. The large international representation reflects pent-up demand for a more active role in the evolution of the Internet, which has been dominated by U.S. companies. The group, known as the generic Top-Level Domain Memorandum of Understanding (gTLD-MoU), also announced it selected Emergent Corp., a high-performance database development company in San Mateo, Calif., to design and operate the central database and other components of the new system. Under the plan, all 87 registrars will be able to process domain-name registrations under seven new Internet TLDs--.arts, .info, .web, .firm, .rec, .nom, and .store--using what is expected to be the Internet's first open, shared international domain-name registration service. However, some doubt remains as to whether Network Solutions Inc., the Herndon, Va., company that manages the "root" or primary Internet domain name server system under authority of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), will actually enter the new domains into its own root server database when it comes time to activate the new system. NSI manages the lucrative .com domain, as well as the other traditional TLDs, including .org and .gov.
"IANA has not asked the root server operators about adding the seven new TLDs into the root servers," said Jon Postel, director of IANA. Postel is a longtime supporter of the gTLD-MoU plan and one of two principal signatories, along with the Internet Society, of the memorandum of understanding itself. Until Postel directs NSI to include the new names in its root servers, the names will be unavailable for use across the Internet.
NSI may already have taken steps to prepare, though.
The company recently added the domain name "," which could be for a new secondary root server in addition to the eight ("" through "") that today support the DNS. However, an NSI spokesman denied that the company is preparing to add the seven TLDs of the gTLD-MoU.
The registry members of the gTLD-MoU, known as the Council of Registrars (CORE), aim to break the monopoly that NSI currently holds on registering within the generic .com, .net, .org, and .gov domains under a contract with the National Science Foundation. The NSF contract expires on March 31, 1998, but is likely to be extended for another six months beyond that.
CORE said it hopes to have its registration system experimentally operational by Feb. 1, 1998, running live with all seven domains on Feb. 9, and fully functional by March 1--in time to start accepting new .com registrations if NSI's contract is allowed to expire. Curt Mayer, Emergent's co-founder and chief technology officer, said the company is working quickly to bring the system online according to CORE's design specifications and production schedule. "We're excited to have this opportunity to show our stuff on the Internet," he said.
Emergent said it has built database systems that can handle load rates of 70 Gbytes per hour for corporate clients, such as banks and computer companies. Mayer, who had previously been with Oracle as a system software designer, said he will use an Oracle database as the foundation for the new system.
Kevin Connolly, a lawyer negotiating the contract with Emergent on behalf of the members of CORE, said that of the four companies in the running for the shared database registry contract, Emergent was by far the most impressive candidate.
Expecting the system to be in place in less than four months, several new members of CORE have been taking reservations for domain names for the new system. None of the registrations, though, is guaranteed until the system is functional, according to the registrars.
One of the 87 new CORE registrars, NetNames USA, currently operates a registration service for NSI's domain names as well as for most country-code domains like .uk (for the United Kingdom) and .fr (for France). It has received about 1,000 applications for new domain names under the gTLD-MoU plan, said Antony Van Couvering, president of NetNames USA.
"We don't like the word 'preregister,' but yes, we have been doing that since March," he said.
Another CORE member company, Internet Domain Registrars, Vancouver, British Columbia, began taking reservations for names under the new TLDs on Oct. 1, said executive director Paul Lum.
A search of Internet Domain Registrars' database showed that as of last week, someone-- the company would not disclose its clients--has already expressed an interest in reserving "sex," "Internet," and "business" for all of the new TLDs, as well as "Microsoft," "Yahoo," and "IBM" for all of the TLDs except .nom (which is intended for use by individuals).
"Most of our applicants are companies just applying for their own use," Lum said. "A lot of companies with trademarks have registered already, because they don't want to go through the trouble of tracking down whoever has taken them."
The gTLD-MoU plan also has a trademark-dispute resolution system in place with arbitration panels to settle any conflicts. Still, CORE members do expect litigation in connection with their registrations.
To ensure fairness among the registrars when the shared registry opens, CORE members have proposed a round-robin system, said Emergent's Mayer. However, Lum said the group was still deciding whether the system would enter registrations from CORE members based on the date a member company was approved as a registrar, or whether the order would be random. "It's a lottery for the most popular generic domain names, like 'Internet.web,'" said Lum.
CORE's domain-name registration fees are at the discretion of registrars, but Van Couvering said he expects all of them to charge less than the $50-per-year rate that NSI charges. Another advantage over NSI is that domain names in the CORE system are portable: If customers aren't satisfied with their registrar, they can switch, Van Couvering said.


eNIC Corporation, registry for the top level domain ".cc", will offer multilingual domain names in Chinese, Japanese and Korean.