Valuable Cyberspace Address to Be Given Away?
|January 9, 2007||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
WWW Name Could Become Corporate Welfare Scandal
ACTIVISTS TO COMMERCE DEPARTMENT: DON’T GIVE AWAY U.S. CYBERSPACE ADDRESS!
Below is a news announcement concerning another government giveaway of valuable public resources. World Wide Web addresses can be worth a lot — who should benefit?
Twenty public interest organizations and academics urged the Commerce Department to think of the public before giving away the United State’s cyberspace address, “.us.” In a letter addressed to the Acting Administrator of the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) the coalition requested that NTIA:
- · Prohibit the private, for-profit corporation Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI) from making any changes to the .us namespace (NSI has recently assumed operational management of .us); and
· Commence a new proceeding to focus on the public interest aspects of NTIA’s proposal to re-delegate management of the .us domain.
The letter states: “NTIA administers the .us ccTLD on behalf of the American people…No one would seriously propose that the United States government simply give away the .us domain, the collective cyberspace identity of the American people, yet…NTIA may simply dispose of this valuable national resource with little public debate…At the very least, NTIA has a responsibility to ensure that the American people recoup at least some of the vast potential revenues [that the space will generate]. Further public proceedings to consider these issues fully must take place before any changes take place in the .us space, whether by… NTIA or by unilateral action on the part of the current administrator, NSI.”
In addition to the familiar “generic” top level domains — .com, .org, and .net – every country has a two-letter “country code” top level domain (called a “ccTLD”). The United States’ code is “.us.” NTIA oversees management of the .us domain and domain names generally. Most users of .us addresses are state and local governments, libraries, and schools, representatives of which are among the signatories.
In August 2000, NTIA began a proceeding on future management of .us. The comment period closed on October 6, 2000. In November 2000, NSI assumed operational control of .us from the non-profit organization that previously ran it. (NSI, a subsidiary of publicly traded Verisign, Inc., also operates the .com, .org, and .net registries.)
The full text of the letter is available at http://www.benton.org/Policy/US/docletter.html
Among the signatories to the letter are:
- Alliance for Community Technology (ACT)
Alliance for Community Media
American Library Association
Center for Media Education
Center for Policy Alternatives
Community Technology Centers’ Network (CTCNet)
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR)
Consumer Federation of America
Council of Chief State School Officers
Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
The George Mason University Instructional Foundation, Inc.
National Association of Independent Schools
National League of Cities
Suppose that leasing the .us name can bring in $1 billion in revenue annually. Who should get that value? Who created it? Is it a product, or a surplus? Is this a monopoly, a free market, or what? Tell your opinions to The Progress Report!