Before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Hearing February 14, 2001
Examining ICANN and the TLD Selection Process
Name.Space was founded in 1996 with its primary mission to develop, publish and provide registry services for new Top Level Domains on the Internet, to introduce competition in the Domain Name market as well as support the balanced interests of commercial, non-commercial, and political speech on the internet.
Through public input to an ongoing survey, thousands of requests and suggestions for TLDs by customers and potential customers were submitted to Name.Space over the 5 years of its existence. Out of those requests Name.Space editorially chose to publish and place into service approximately 540 TLDs to serve the needs of culture, commerce and community such as ".art" ".info" ".museum" "pro" ".politics" ".shop" and ".sucks". Its business model is one of a simple economy of scale--one that provides equal support and access for domains that are commercially popular as well as domains that have value and purpose for cultural and community use but may not stand on their own commercially. The idea is to spread the costs across the board by operating a diversity of TLDs on a common infrastructure, designed to carry multiple TLDs to maximize efficiency and keep costs low for all customers.
Name.Space invested in geographically diverse infrastructure using co-located servers in various commercial and non-commercial facilities, and built the software to register and manage TLDs and second-level domain registrations. Its innovative real-time domain registration system has been operating on the internet for five years and is one of the first of its kind. Name.Space has also produced a "universal" global domain name and IP number search engine, DNS411 that uses "smart" Whois developed by Name.Space. DNS411 is free to the public and provides a powerful and convenient search tool that has been useful in tracking down spammers and other cyber-nuisances, and in finding domain contact information in any TLD in any country, and from any active registry and registrar with a "whois" database.
The TLDs published and operated by Name.Space can not be seen by the entire internet because they are not included into the ROOT.ZONE, the "master list" of all the TLDs visible to the internet by default that is operated by Network Solutions, Inc., formerly under a Cooperative Agreement with the National Science Foundations, and since September, 1998 under contract with the NTIA.
In March, 1997 Name.Space requested that NSI amend the ROOT.ZONE to include the TLDs published and operated by Name.Space. NSI refused and Name.Space sought relief in the Courts by filing an antitrust action against NSI for denial of access to the "ROOT" and for conspiracy to commit antitrust along with a group of non-party co-conspirators, many of them with ties to today's ICANN.
The case came to a conclusion in January, 2000 when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals "immunized" NSI's conduct in this particular case so that the NTIA may pursue its stated policy objective, which was to let ICANN decide on adding TLDs to the ROOT.
Name.Space accepted the Court's decision and acted in good faith to apply through the ICANN TLD selection process, submitting its application for 118 of the 540 TLDs it publishes and operates, and paying the non-refundable $50,000.00 fee to ICANN. While I was personally skeptical of the amorphous and undefined process by which ICANN would select new TLDs and their operators, fearing that they would only choose the dominant market players, as they have indeed done, I strongly believed in my company's technical competence and business potential to succeed as a TLD registry. I didn't imagine however that ICANN would not only reject Name.Space's proposal, but that they would go so far as to "select" TLDs already in service by Name.Space, namely ".INFO" ".PRO" and ".MUSEUM" and choose to assign them to some of the very parties who had acted, and in some cases may have criminally conspired, to prevent Name.Space from entering the domain name market with its diverse and competitive TLDs and business model.
Name.Space has predated ICANN by two years and is well established as a pioneer and entrepreneurial small business whose mission is to provide diversity and competition in the domain name market with respect to the greater public good, balancing the needs of culture, commerce and community. Instead of being rewarded for its efforts in defining and developing the new domain name market, its accomplishments are being ignored and its efforts to its rightful place in the marketplace are continuously thwarted by a small group of special interests determined to keep a stranglehold on the domain market by any means necessary. Those special interests are among ICANN, NSI, CORE and their affiliates.
As ICANN Director Dr. Vint Cerf admitted before the House Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications on February 8, 2001, the selections of 7 new companies to act as Top Level Domain (TLD) registries by ICANN was "subjective". The ICANN board's selection of dominant industry players at the exclusion of entrepreneurs and small businesses also ignored the voices of the only publicly elected members of its board who were denied a vote in the TLD selection process.
Dr. Cerf also added that ICANN did not spend all of the applicants' money processing their applications. Presently, ICANN is in the process of writing the TLD registry contracts with the 7 "winners" it so subjectively picked out of the 44 applicants. The "losers" have ended up subsidizing the authoring of the contracts with the "winners" without any say in the content of those contracts, which will likely be passed down to future TLD registries that ICANN may select in future application rounds.
I respectfully ask that this Committee exercise its oversight and require that ICANN rescind its initial arbitrary and capricious selection of 7 dominant players in the domain market and reconsider all applicants, accepting all who meet a pre-defined and objective technical criteria.
Thank you for your time and for the opportunity to present my views to this Committee. I would be pleased to answer any of your questions to the best of my ability.
The Root.Zone, the "." (Dot) or Root Directory
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