Internet Domain Names: Background and Policy Issues Page: 3 of 6
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In effect, the White Paper endorsed a process whereby the divergent interests of the
Internet community would come together and decide how Internet names and addresses
would be managed and administered. Accordingly, Internet constituencies from around
the world held a series of meetings during the summer of 1998 to discuss how the New
Corporation (NewCo) might be constituted and structured. Meanwhile, IANA, in
collaboration with NSI, released a proposed set of bylaws and articles of incorporation.
The proposed new corporation was called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names
and Numbers (ICANN). After five iterations, the final version of ICANN's bylaws and
articles of incorporation were submitted to the Department of Commerce on October 2,
1998. On November 25, 1998, DOC and ICANN signed an official Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU), whereby DOC and ICANN agreed to jointly design, develop, and
test the mechanisms, methods, and procedures necessary to transition management
responsibility for DNS functions to a private-sector not-for-profit entity.
The White Paper also signaled DOC's intention to ramp down the government's
Cooperative Agreement with NSI, with the objective of introducing competition into the
domain name space while maintaining stability and ensuring an orderly transition. During
this transition period, government obligations were to be terminated as DNS
responsibilities transferred to ICANN. Specifically, NSI committed to the development
of a Shared Registration System that permits all accredited registrars to provide
registration services within the .com, .net., and .org gTLDs. NSI (now VeriSign)
continues to administer the root server system until receiving further instruction from the
After a year of negotiations, on November 10, 1999, ICANN, NSI, and DOC
formally signed agreements which provided that NSI (now VeriSign) was required to sell
its registrar operation by May 10, 2001 in order to retain control of the dot-com registry
until 2007. In April 2001, arguing that the registrar business was by then highly
competitive, VeriSign reached a new agreement with ICANN whereby its registry and
registrar businesses would not have to be separated. With DOC approval, ICANN and
VeriSign signed the formal agreement on May 25, 2001. The agreement provided that
VeriSign would continue to operate the .org registry until 2002; the .net registry until
June 30, 2005; and the .com registry until at least the expiration date of the current
agreement in 2007, and possibly beyond. In 2002, the ICANN Board selected Public
Interest Registry to operate .org for six years, and in 2005, selected Verisign to operate
the .net registry for an additional six years.
On September 17, 2003, ICANN and the Department of Commerce agreed to extend
their MOU until September 30, 2006. The MOU specifies transition tasks which ICANN
has agreed to address. ICANN will implement an objective process for selecting new Top
Level Domains; implement an effective strategy for multi-lingual communications and
international outreach; and develop a contingency plan, consistent with the international
nature of the Internet, to ensure continuity of operations in the event of a severe disruption
of operations. However, on June 30, 2005, Michael Gallagher, then-Assistant Secretary
of Commerce for Communications and Information and Administrator of NTIA, stated
the U.S. Government's principles on the Internet's domain name system. Specifically,
NTIA states that the U.S. Government "intends to preserve the security and stability" of
the DNS, and that "the United States is committed to taking no action that would have the
potential to adversely impact the effective and efficient operation of the DNS and will
therefore maintain its historic role in authorizing changes or modifications to the
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Internet Domain Names: Background and Policy Issues, report, July 14, 2006; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc806264/m1/3/: accessed October 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.