PAB Testimony of J. Beckwith Burr on "new corporation"

Sascha Ignjatovic (
Thu, 11 Jun 1998 06:01:51 +0200 (MET DST)

Testimony of J. Beckwith Burr
Associate Administrator of the
National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)
for International Affairs, U.S. Department of Commerce
before the House Committee on Commerce
Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade and Consumer Protection

on the Future of the Domain Name System

June 10, 1998

With this input, the Department of Commerce published for public
comment a proposed rule, entitled A Proposal to Improve the
Technical Management of Internet Names and Addresses, regarding
the domain name registration system on January 30, 1998. The
"Green Paper," as it is frequently called, proposed that certain
DNS functions should be coordinated:

1) the management of the Internet IP numbering system;

2) the coordination and management of the Internet root servers;

3) the allocation and management of generic top level domains
(gTLDs) and;

4) the dissemination protocol parameters for Internet addressing.

To manage these functions, the Green Paper proposed the creation,
by the private sector, of a new private, not-for-profit
corporation (new corporation) that would act for the benefit of
the Internet as a whole. Based on broad consultation with
Internet stakeholders, the Green Paper proposed that the new
corporation should be operated on the following principles:

1) Stability ? The U.S. Government should end its stewardship of
the DNS in a responsible manner, which above all else, means
ensuring the stability of the Internet;

2) Competition ? Where possible, market mechanisms that support
competition should drive DNS management;

3) Private, Bottom-up Coordination ? Private-sector coordination
of DNS management is preferable to government control; and

4) Representation ? Technical management of the Internet should
reflect a diversity of Internet users both functionally and

The U.S. Government would gradually transfer the responsibilities
for DNS management to this new organization.

Noting that the creation and stabilization of the new corporation
by the private sector would likely take some time, the Green
Paper contemplated that, during the transition to private sector
management, the U.S. Government would take certain steps --
including the addition of up to five new gTLDs into the domain
name system ? to enhance competition in domain name registration
in the short term.

Over 650 comments, amounting to some 2000 pages, were received in
response to the proposed rule. The comments revealed
overwhelming, nearly consensus, support for the creation of a
new, private not-for-profit corporation to manage DNS and
confirmed our belief that the four DNS functions proposed in the
Green Paper should be coordinated. Further, the comments
confirmed that the U.S. Government and the new corporation should
be guided by the principles we proposed for the transition to
private sector management.

On June 5, 1998 in light of the public comments received as well
as the continued rapid technological development of the Internet,
NTIA released Management of Internet Names and Addresses, a
policy statement that outlines the Administration's policy
regarding privatization of the domain name system in a manner
that allows for the development of robust competition and that
facilitates global participation in the management of Internet
names and addresses. The policy statement ? which I am submitting
today for the record -- affirms many of the proposals described
in the Green Paper.

The Administration maintains that a globally and functionally
representative organization, operated on the basis of sound and
transparent processes that protect against capture by
self-interested factions, and that provides robust, professional
management will provide the most responsive and procedurally
sound structure for private sector decision making on DNS
management. As described in the policy statement, the new
entity's processes need to be fair, open, and pro-competitive.
And the new entity needs to have a mechanism for evolving to
reflect changes in the constituency of Internet stakeholders.

We are prepared to recognize, by entering into agreements or
understandings with, an entity with the characteristics described
in the policy statement to administer policy for the Internet
name and address system. Under such agreements or understandings,
the new corporation would undertake various responsibilities for
the administration of the domain name system now performed by or
on behalf of the U.S. Government or by third parties under
arrangements or agreements with the U.S. Government. The U.S.
Government would also ensure that the new corporation has
appropriate access to needed databases and software developed
under those agreements.

I would like to emphasize that the policy statement does NOT
propose a monolithic structure for Internet governance or propose
the creation of a federally chartered corporation to manage DNS.

Rather, we seek a stable process to address the narrow issues of
management of administration of Internet names and numbers on an
ongoing basis and we invite private sector Internet stakeholders
? both U.S. and non-U.S. based ? to work together to form this
new organization.

The policy statement is really about the process by which this
new entity would make decisions on DNS management, rather than
the ultimate decisions to be made. The comments evidenced very
strong support for limiting government involvement during the
transition period on substantive matters such as adding new gTLDs
or establishing technical or operational requirements for domain
name registries and registrars. The vast majority of commenters
that suggested it would be more appropriate for the new, private
organization ? not government -- to decide these issues once it
is up and running.

And we agree with those commenters.

Accordingly, we are prepared to defer substantive DNS management
decisions ? including the decisions regarding addition of new
gTLDs ? to the new entity.

The Administration hopes that the private sector can get the new
corporation up and running by October 1 of this year, and we
expect by October 1 of the year 2000 at the outside, the new
corporation will assume full responsibility for the functions the
U.S. Government currently performs.

We recognize that this timetable is aggressive. But the vast
majority of the comments we received on the Green Paper said "let
the private sector lead." The Administration is stepping up to
this challenge. We expect the private sector to step up to the
challenge of leadership as well.

Obviously, the process will not end with the issuance of this
policy statement. The hard part is just beginning, in fact. The
Department of Commerce stands ready to facilitate this process in
all possible ways. We expect to consult widely with the Internet
community as well as with members of the international community
as we prepare to enter into the agreements or understandings
needed for the new corporation to take up the DNS functions the
U.S. Government currently manages.