Fact Sheet on Tentative Agreements among ICANN, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Network Solutions, Inc.

(Posted September 28, 1999)


Fact Sheet

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):

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 agreements:


Operation of Registry for .com, .net, and .org Domains


Exercise of ICANN's Authority


ICANN Funding





Management of 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.