Gordon Cook on Fri, 8 Aug 1997 02:54:47 +0200 (MET DST)

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Re: <nettime> Petition in Support of NAME.SPACE to US Dept of Commerce

My response to mediafilter:

There is a very critical document that we reported on within two weeks
after its writing that is being used to undercut IANA. The letter was
written on April 4 1997 by the USC Office of General Council to Network
Solutions. In this letter USC advised NSI that IANA was operating without
the legal authority that NSI had presumed the USC Office of General
Council had given it. The letter said to NSI in effect that, if it had
thought the USC Office of General Counsel had placed or was continuing to
place ITS legal authority behind IANA's actions, it was mistaken and that,
as far as USC was concerned, IANA had never acted on anything more than
the consensual authority of the Internet community, "which you [NSI] have
choosen to accept." This letter is now being used by some in Washington as
grounds for saying IANA has no authority.

By the way we have managed to acquire the text of the June 25th letter in
which NSF tells NSI "no new top level domains." In view of this letter it
seems to be pretty clear what the course of action would be if IANA asks
NSI to add any of the IPOC 7 new domains to the root zone file. Unless
IANA bows to the wishes of the US government in this respect and does not
implement the new gtlds, it is hard to imagine IANA leaving the root zone
files at NSI much longer. Why? Because the door to their use is
effectively being locked.  

In the mean time we understand that the $225,000 promised by Ira Magaziner
to IANA at Kuala Lumpur has not arrived and indeed may never arrive. This
inability of the US government to keep its word will certainly increase
pressures on IANA to pull up stakes and move to Europe. The "feds" have an
IANA task force. From what we have been able to piece together the task
force is doing nothing to help bring about the IANA reforms we have called
for and nothing to institutionalize IANA authority functions. We wonder
indeed if the Clinton Gore "do gooders" intention is to cut the ground out
from under Jon Postel and then declare him to be irrelevant - replacing
him with god knows what? While we do not support IAHC or IPOC, we do
believe that Jon Postel deserves better than the lousy treatment he has
gotten from just about all quarters this year.

Here is the text of the June 25 NSF letter

Mr. David M. Graves
Internet Business Manager
Network Solutions, Inc.
505 Huntmar Park Drive
Herndon, VA 20170

Dear Mr. Graves:

This letter responds to your letter of June 10, 1997, which requests that
as the Cognizant Program Official for the referenced agreement I concur in
a proposed plan and process under which Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI)
-acting as Internet Registry (as designated by RFC 1591) -- would
authorize and create new Top Level Domain (TLD)s and registrars.  We
appreciate the current and potential litigation burdens described in your
letter and understand NSI's need to respond to the antitrust claims filed
against it

As you are aware, the National Science Foundation is currently discussing
with several federal agencies many of the governance and authority issues
raised in your letter.  We expect that these discussions will lead to
greater stability of the Internet, especially since NSF has no plans to
renew or to re-compete the Cooperative Agreement with NSI when it ends in
March 1998.  However, no conclusions have as yet been reached with respect
to the future of the Domain Name System or the creation of new TLDs, and
it is generally felt that the addition of any new TLDs at this time would
be destabilizing and premature.

Based on the above, I am unable to concur with your proposed plan and
process at the present time and must reject your request.  The National
Science Foundation also specifically requests that NSI take NO action to
create additional TLDs or to add any other new TLDs to the Internet root
zone file until NSF, in consultation with other U.S. government agencies,
has completed its deliberations in this area and is able to provide
further guidance.

Sincerely yours,

Donald R. Mitchell
Staff Associate, DNCRI

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