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
- a Registry Agreement between ICANN and NSI;
- 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. ICANN's endorsement is subject to consideration of public comments.
The agreements will be posted on ICANN's website today <www.icann.org/general/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 NSI's 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 Board's final decision. The Department of Commerce and NSI have
agreed to extend the testbed period until November 5, 1999, to allow for ICANN's
public comment process.
Following is a summary of the key issues addressed in these
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
- 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 registry's 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 registrant's 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 NSI's registrar activities
to the detriment of other registrars.
- The term of the Registry Agreement is four years from
its signing. If ownership of NSI's 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 NSI's 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 ICANN's 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 ICANN's determination that a consensus exists; (b) a commitment
to open, transparent, and pro-competitive processes; and (c) a prohibition
against arbitrary, unjustifiable, or inequitable actions.
- The agreements explicitly define the subjects within
the scope of ICANN's authority with respect to both the registry and registrars.
- ICANN's 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 ICANN's 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
- 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 services.
- 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 Server
- 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; and representation.
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.