Fact Sheet on Tentative Agreements among ICANN, the U.S.
Department of Commerce, and Network Solutions, Inc.
(Posted September 28, 1999)
The resolution of issues among the Department
of Commerce, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and
Numbers (ICANN), and Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI) is embodied
in five agreements (and the appendices to those agreements):
- a Registry Agreement between ICANN and
- a revised Registrar Accreditation Agreement
between ICANN and all registrars registering names in the .com,
.net., and .org domains;
- a revised, post-testbed Registrar License
and Agreement between NSI and all registrars registering names
in the .com, .net., and .org domains (the license for the Shared
Registration System and related purposes);
- an amendment to the Cooperative Agreement
between the Department of Commerce and NSI; and
- an amendment to the Memorandum of Understanding
between the Department of Commerce and ICANN.
The Department of Commerce and NSI have
endorsed the package of agreements. ICANNs endorsement
is subject to consideration of public comments. The agreements
will be posted on ICANNs website today <www.icann.org/agreements.htm>, and ICANN will receive comments for the next
thirty days. The ICANN Board expects to make a final determination
regarding this matter at its meeting on November 4, 1999. The
agreements will also be posted on the NTIA website at <www.ntia.doc.gov> and on NSIs website at <www.networksolutions.com>. Because the agreements are interrelated and
together resolve the broad array of outstanding issues, the package
of agreements will not be entered into until after the ICANN
Boards final decision. The Department of Commerce and NSI
have agreed to extend the testbed period until November 5, 1999,
to allow for ICANNs public comment process.
Following is a summary of the key issues
addressed in these agreements:
Operation of Registry for .com, .net,
and .org Domains
- NSI will recognize ICANN and agree to
operate the registry in accordance with provisions of the Registry
Agreement between ICANN and NSI and the policies established
by ICANN in accordance with the terms of that agreement.
- Beginning January 15, 2000, NSI as registry
will charge registrars $6 per registration-year for the remainder
of the term of the Registry Agreement. (The fee will remain at
$9 until January 15, 2000.) The fee may be increased to cover
increases in the registrys net costs resulting from ICANN
policies or from legislation specifically applicable to the provision
of registry services.
- NSI will agree to use its best commercial
efforts to implement by January 15, 2000 modifications to the
Shared Registration System that will (a) enable a registrar to
accept registrations and renewals in one-year increments; and
(b) enable a registrar to add one year to a registrants
registration period upon transfer of a registration from one
registrar to another.
- NSI will be contractually obligated to
provide equivalent access to the Shared Registration System to
all registrars accredited by ICANN (including NSI acting as a
registrar) and to ensure that the revenues and assets of the
registry are not utilized to advantage NSIs registrar activities
to the detriment of other registrars.
- The term of the Registry Agreement is
four years from its signing. If ownership of NSIs registry
and registrar operations is fully separated within 18 months,
and the registry functions are performed by an entity that is
not affiliated with a registrar and promises never to affiliate
with a registrar, the term would be extended for four additional
years. Department of Commerce approval is required for the transfer
of NSIs registry operations and for the designation of
a successor registry by ICANN.
- Upon the expiration of the agreement,
ICANN will conduct a process for selecting a successor registry,
in which NSI may compete on an equal basis. If, during the term
of the registry agreement, NSI fails to remedy its breach of
the registry agreement it may be terminated as the registry for
.com, .net, and .org.
- NSI will continue to provide third parties
bulk access to TLD zone files.
- The Registrar License and Agreement has
been modified to reflect various suggestions made by registrars
during the testbed phase.
- NSI will be entitled to establish its
own prices for registrar services (the Cooperative Agreement
currently requires NSI to charge $35 per year for those services).
Exercise of ICANNs Authority
- ICANN will be contractually obligated,
to the registry and to all accredited registrars, to comply with
specified procedural requirements governing the exercise of its
authority. These include (a) definition of the consensus required
for action by ICANN and specification of the procedure for reviewing
ICANNs determination that a consensus exists; (b) a commitment
to open, transparent, and pro-competitive processes; and (c)
a prohibition against arbitrary, unjustifiable, or inequitable
- The agreements explicitly define the subjects
within the scope of ICANNs authority with respect to both
the registry and registrars.
- ICANNs authority to set policy for
the registry may be terminated if (a) ICANN breaches the Registry
Agreement and fails to remedy that breach; (b) the Department
of Commerce withdraws its recognition of ICANN; or (c) the Department
of Commerce concludes that ICANN has not made sufficient progress
towards entering into agreements with other registries and NSI
is competitively disadvantaged. In the event ICANNs authority
is terminated, the Department of Commerce will assume the policy-setting
function for registry services for the .com, .net and .org top
level domains. The same provisions regarding the term of the
Registry Agreement will apply under Department of Commerce supervision.
- Registrar fees must be equitably apportioned
and approved by registrars that account for payment of two-thirds
of registrar fees. NSI has agreed that it will approve an ICANN
registrar fee policy so long as its share of the registrar fees
does not exceed $2 million.
- gTLD registry fees must be equitably apportioned
among gTLD registries. NSI has agreed to pay up to $250,000 in
gTLD registry fees. Any gTLD fee structure that requires a higher
payment by NSI must be approved by registries accounting for
two-thirds of the gTLD registry fees.
- Upon signing of the agreements, NSI would
prepay $1.25 million towards its share of ICANN fees.
- All accredited registrars would be obligated
to provide query-based access to registration data and would
be barred from placing conditions upon any legal use of that
data, except to prohibit use of the data to enable the transmission
of mass unsolicited commercial solicitations via e-mail (spam)
and to enable high-speed processes for applying for registrations.
- All accredited registrars also would be
required to provide third-party bulk access to registration data
(subject to the restrictions discussed above) for an annual fee
that may not exceed $10,000. This obligation would remain in
effect until it is replaced by a different policy adopted by
ICANN or a finding by the Department of Commerce that no individual
or entity is able to exercise market power with respect to data
used for development of third-party value added products and
- Within six months, the InterNIC website
(as well as the internic.com, internic.org, and internic.net
domain names) will be transferred to the Department of Commerce.
- Until the transfer is completed, NSI will
maintain the internic.net website as a public information site
with a directory of accredited registrars for .com, .net, and
.org, with hotlinks to those registrars.
- Within nine months, NSI will modify all
of its registration templates and otherwise migrate from the
use of the term "InterNIC," or Internet addresses that
reflect the term "InterNIC."
Management of the Authoritative Root
- Nothing in these agreements affects the
current arrangements regarding management of the authoritative
root server. NSI will continue to manage the authoritative root
server in accordance with the direction of the Department of
Commerce. The Department of Commerce expects to receive a technical
proposal from ICANN for management of the authoritative root
and this management responsibility may be transferred to ICANN
at some point in the future. The Department of Commerce has no
plans to transfer to any entity its policy authority to direct
the authoritative root server.
* * * * *
On July 1, 1997, President Clinton issued
A Framework for Global Electronic Commerce and directed
the Secretary of Commerce to privatize the management of the
domain name system ("DNS") in a manner that increases
competition and facilitates international participation in its
management. Following an extensive public consultation process,
the Department of Commerce on June 8, 1998, issued a Statement
of Policy entitled Management of Internet Names and Addresses
(the "White Paper"). The White Paper called upon the
private sector to create a new, not-for-profit corporation to
assume responsibility, over time, for the management of certain
aspects of the domain name system. The White Paper also articulated
the fundamental policies that would guide United States participation
in the transfer of DNS management responsibility to the private
sector: stability; competition; private, bottom-up coordination;
In October 1998, the Department of Commerce
and NSI amended the Cooperative Agreement to facilitate the stable
evolution of the domain name system in accordance with the White
Paper and to introduce competition into the provision of registrar
services in the .com, .net and .org domains. In November 1998,
the Department of Commerce entered into a Memorandum of Understanding
with ICANN for collaborative development and testing of the mechanisms,
methods, and procedures necessary to transition management responsibility
for specific DNS functions to the private sector.
Pursuant to the provisions of the amended
Cooperative Agreement, NSI developed the Shared Registration
System, which allows multiple registrars to submit domain name
registrations to the registry for the .com, .net, and .org domains.
On April 21, 1999, ICANN selected five Accredited Registrars
to participate in Phase I testing of the SRS. The test period
has been extended several times and has been opened to all registrars
accredited by ICANN. Currently, there are 76 registrars accredited
by ICANN. Of these, 29 have obtained the SRS software from NSI;
13 have been certified to begin operations; and 11 are actively
registering domain names.
Page updated 28-September-1999.
To submit comments on these agreements, click here.