What are domain
  InterNIC and NSI
  Conflict Resolution


  US Green Paper


  About the group


On January 30, 1996, the U.S. Department of Commerce published its long awaited "green paper" outlining a proposals to revise the domain name system. This proposal plans to transfer the power of registering domain names from governmental agencies to the private sector. The transfer should be completed by September 20, 2000, but functional control will be given to the new organization as early as September 20, 1998.

Power over the domain system will be transferred to a not-for-profit organization centered in Washington D.C. This organization would report to an international board of directors, representing "IP number registries, domain name registries, domain name registrars, the technical community, and Internet users (commercial, not-for-profit, and individuals)." * The proposal recommends that decision by the board of directors be made by "super majority or even consensus" to avoid allowing one faction to gain control of the board. All decisions by the organization would be available to the public.

This corporation would be responsible for coordinating the DNS system. It would have the following responsibilities:

  • "to set policy for and direct the allocation of number blocks to regional number registries for the assignment of Internet addresses;
  • to oversee the operation of an authoritative root server system;
  • to oversee policy for determining, based on objective criteria clearly established in the new organization's charter, the circumstances under which new top-level domains are added to the root system; and
  • to coordinate the development of other technical protocol parameters as needed to maintain universal connectivity on the Internet." *

The plan calls for the number of new TLDs to be initially capped at five. However, the controlling organization would have the ability to create new TLDs when necessary, and potential registries (see next section) would be able to lobby the controlling organization if they felt a need for a new TLD. The U.S. dismisses using country codes as being too confusing, and instead opts to create country non-specific codes, such as .firm.


Each TLD will be run by an organization known as a "registry." The registry would be responsible for maintaining a list of all of the registered domain names and their corresponding IP addresses. The registries would be required to provide functions such as adding, removing, and listing names to all registrars (see next section) equally. The paper does not specify whether registries would be profit or nonprofit organizations.


Registrars would be the link between the registries and the users, providing users with the ability to register domain names. These organizations would register names, assuring that duplications would not occur.

There are already a plethora of organizations that are attempting to become registrars, attesting to the profitability of the position. These include profit organizations such as Iperdome and nonprofit organizations such as the POC (created by the gTLD-MoU). Many of these registrars are already moving to recieve registrations, and establish themselves as valid registrars.


Like the gTLD-MoU plan, all registrars would have equal access to the registries, making the service competitive, keeping prices down and providing good service. However, the U.S. plan allows even more competition than the gTLD-MoU, since almost anyone can be a registrar, while in gTLD-MoU plan only larger corporations could afford to join. It also extends competition to the registry level, by allowing registries to be for-profit organizations, in contrast to the nonprofit approach taken by the gTLD-MoU. Ideally, this competition would assure that no organization could attain a monopolistic control over the naming system. The paper justifies competition by saying, "Attempts to impose too much central order risk stifling a medium like the Internet that is decentralized by nature and thrives on freedom and innovation." *

Dispute Resolution

The plan specifies that those register domain names would have to provide information that would allow the registrar to contact them in the case of a dispute. The plan proposes that the dispute resolution be carried seperate from the registrars, but does not specify what this organization would be, or how the system would work.

Responses to the Proposal

The response to the green paper has been varied. Many have hailed the agreement as a breakthrough in domain name reform, and praised the promotion of competition among domain name providers. However, the plan definitely has its critics. For example, the proposal to create new domain names has received criticism just as it did in the gTLD-MoU, because it would make patrolling web pages more difficult for businesses.

There is also great argument about whether competition should be encouraged at the registry level. Proponents argue that capitalistic competition among the registries would bring costs down and provide better service for users. However, opponents argue that the registries would have an intrinsic monopoly, since organizations would want to register in an appropriate TLD, and few would want to change their domain name once they had registered. Thus a registry might charge a small fee to attract users, and then raise the fees once the user had registered names, when they would be reluctant to change the address because they might lose business. It could also increase confusion, with organizations choosing TLDs with better pricing, even though the TLD is not completely appropriate for the organization.

In addition, the proposal does not seem to handle dispute resolution well, by not specifying the mode of resolution. The plan seems to propose a system very similar to the current one, where all disputes are decided by the courts, and system which has caused problems in the past, both because of the slow speed of court cases and because of the difficulty in finding applicatable courts when the parties live in different countries.