Signposts in Cyberspace
The Domain Name System and Internet Navigation
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
Support for this project was provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Science Foundation under Grant No. ANI-9909852 and by the National Research Council. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the Commerce Department.
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COMMITTEE ON INTERNET NAVIGATION AND THE DOMAIN NAME SYSTEM: TECHNICAL ALTERNATIVES AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS
Strategy & Innovation Consulting,
S. ROBERT AUSTEIN,
Internet Systems Consortium
STANLEY M. BESEN,
Charles River Associates
CHRISTINE L. BORGMAN,
University of California, Los Angeles
University of Nevada, Reno
Dubberly Design Office
Arent Fox, PLLC
JOHN C. KLENSIN,
MILTON L. MUELLER,
SHARON L. NELSON,
Washington State Attorney General’s Office
WILLIAM J. RADUCHEL,
HAL R. VARIAN,
University of California, Berkeley
ALAN S. INOUYE, Study Director (through December 2004)
CHARLES N. BROWNSTEIN, Director (from January 2004)
MARGARET MARSH HUYNH, Senior Program Assistant
KRISTEN BATCH, Research Associate
COMPUTER SCIENCE AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS BOARD
JEANNETTE M. WING,
Carnegie Mellon University,
Benhamou Global Ventures, LLC
DAVID D. CLARK,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
MARK E. DEAN,
IBM Almaden Research Center
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Berkeley
RANDY H. KATZ,
University of California, Berkeley
WENDY A. KELLOGG,
IBM T.J. Watson Research Center
Carnegie Mellon University
BUTLER W. LAMPSON,
TERESA H. MENG,
TOM M. MITCHELL,
Carnegie Mellon University
GCI Cable and Entertainment
FRED B. SCHNEIDER,
ANDREW J. VITERBI,
Viterbi Group, LLC
CHARLES N. BROWNSTEIN, Director
KRISTEN BATCH, Research Associate
JENNIFER M. BISHOP, Program Associate
JANET BRISCOE, Manager, Program Operations
JON EISENBERG, Senior Program Officer
RENEE HAWKINS, Financial Associate
MARGARET MARSH HUYNH, Senior Program Assistant
HERBERT S. LIN, Senior Scientist
LYNETTE I. MILLETT, Senior Program Officer
JANICE SABUDA, Senior Program Assistant
GLORIA WESTBROOK, Senior Program Assistant
BRANDYE WILLIAMS, Staff Assistant
For more information on CSTB, see its Web site at <http://www.cstb.org>, write to CSTB, National Research Council, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20001, call (202) 334-2605, or e-mail the CSTB at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Domain Name System (DNS), which was developed in the early 1980s, provides a way of associating alphanumeric names, which are easier for humans to use, with the numerical addresses that designate every location on the Internet. The system of DNS servers distributed across the Internet invisibly converts the names—serving as signposts in cyberspace—into the numerical addresses required by network routers to reach the signposted locations.
The mnemonic quality of domain names became a practical necessity when the rapid increase in the use of e-mail and the World Wide Web caused the number of Internet users and uses to increase tremendously. Web sites often became known to their visitors by their distinctive domain names—for example, pepsi.com or whitehouse.gov. Carefully chosen domain names often enabled a searcher to navigate to a site simply by guessing (e.g., www.un.org). Consequently, those signposts gained economic, social, cultural, and political value and they became the objects of pride, competition, and dispute. It was fitting, therefore, that the DNS also provided the name—the Dot-Com Era—for the period of the 1990s when “gold rush fever” drove frenzied efforts to stake out and exploit virtually every potentially valuable site on the Web. Inevitably, such efforts led to intense conflicts, especially disputes involving trademarks, which provided the impetus for the 1998 congressional mandate to initiate this study (see Box P.1). However, the passage of time, the rapid evolution of the Internet and the DNS, the additional and differing interests of the funding agencies, and the logic of the committee’s charter have resulted in a report whose scope differs in some respects from the original
SEC. 6. STUDY OF EFFECTS ON TRADEMARK RIGHTS OF ADDING GENERIC TOP-LEVEL DOMAINS
(b) Matters To Be Assessed in Study.—The study shall assess and, as appropriate, make recommendations for policy, practice, or legislative changes relating to—
(1) the short-term and long-term effects on the protection of trademark rights and consumer interests of increasing or decreasing the number of generic top-level domains;
(2) trademark rights clearance processes for domain names, including—
(A) whether domain name databases should be readily searchable through a common interface to facilitate the clearing of trademark rights and proposed domain names across a range of generic top-level domains;
(B) the identification of what information from domain name databases should be accessible for the clearing of trademark rights; and
(C) whether generic top-level domain registrants should be required to provide certain information;
(3) domain name trademark rights dispute resolution mechanisms, including how to—
(A) reduce trademark rights conflicts associated with the addition of any new generic top-level domains; and
(B) reduce trademark rights conflicts through new technical approaches to Internet addressing;
(4) choice of law or jurisdiction for resolution of trademark rights disputes relating to domain names, including which jurisdictions should be available for trademark rights owners to file suit to protect such trademark rights;
(5) trademark rights infringement liability for registrars, registries, or technical management bodies;
(6) short-term and long-term technical and policy options for Internet addressing schemes and the impact of such options on current trademark rights issues; and
(7) public comments on the interim report and on any reports that are issued by intergovernmental bodies.
congressional request, but is as a result more responsive to the current interests of the report’s sponsors and audience.
CURRENT CONTEXT AND STUDY TASK
Although the initial feverish period of Internet exploitation appears to have passed, in its third decade the DNS faces new challenges arising from continued growth in the size and scope of the Internet and from its
increasing integration into almost every aspect of human activity almost everywhere on the globe. The Internet needs more signposts, in more languages, to satisfy more uses and users. And the DNS has to be carefully developed and managed to ensure that it can meet those needs while continuing to provide reliable, efficient, and secure service.
Furthermore, even if the DNS successfully adapts and grows, users of the Internet will confront new challenges in reaching the resources that they are seeking on the Internet, whether they are educational, social, political, cultural, commercial, or recreational. The challenges will arise not from the absence of resources or of signposts for them, but from their presence in such volume and variety that navigating through the maze to find the right ones may become too arduous or too complex for most users. Reciprocally, those who put resources on the Internet will want them to be easily found by their prospective users in the cluttered bazaar of competing or confusing resources and signposts on the Internet. Thus, the larger issue of the third decade of the DNS is that of navigation through the Internet—the need for its users to find their way quickly and confidently to the resources they desire and for its resources to be easily and reliably found by the users they seek.
This study builds on CSTB’s prior work related to the Internet, most notably on The Internet’s Coming of Age and The Digital Dilemma.1 One of the important lessons from this prior work is that contentious issues in information technology policy (e.g., the domain name trademark issues as described in Public Law 105-305) are often much more complex and require analysis in a much larger context than a popular characterization of “us versus them” would suggest. In the interval between the enactment of Public Law 105-305 and the initiation of this study, CSTB was able to conduct preliminary background work to develop a statement of task (see Box P.2) that addresses the congressional mandate but also ensures that the necessary larger context is included explicitly. Moreover, the larger context was necessary to respond appropriately to the interests of the National Science Foundation, which joined with the U.S. Department of Commerce as co-sponsors of this study.
COMMITTEE COMPOSITION AND PROCESS
The CSTB convened a cross-disciplinary study committee comprising computer scientists and engineers, information science/retrieval and
This project will examine the future of Internet navigation and the Domain Name System (DNS) in light of the evolution and interaction of Internet usage, information technology, the economy, and society. The original purpose of the DNS was to provide identifiers for network objects that are more easily remembered and enduring than the numerical addresses and port numbers used by the network infrastructure. However, domain names are now often used for purposes for which they were not originally intended, such as searching, corporate identification, and marketing. And certain domain names, especially those in the .com top-level domain, have acquired substantial economic value, leading to conflict and competition over their ownership and a perceived scarcity of desirable names.
The continuing increase in the number of Internet users and sites, the deepening integration of the Internet into the economy and social processes, the growth in embedded computing devices, and the possible introduction of permanent personal and object identifiers—among other factors—pose challenges to the continued viability and usefulness of the DNS, as currently constituted. This project will describe and evaluate emerging technologies and identify how they might affect the ability of users to find what they are seeking on the Internet and the role of the DNS. Some of the topics to be considered include extension of the DNS through the addition of generic top-level domains and multilingual domain names; introduction of new name assignment and indexing schemes (including alternate root servers); adoption of new directory structures or services for locating information resources, services, or sites of interest; and deployment of improved user interfaces.
navigation experts, lawyers, public policy analysts, a graphic designer and design planner, economists, and business strategists. Many but not all of the members were directly engaged with the DNS or with Internet navigation (see Appendix A for the biographies of committee members). The committee members brought different and complementary perspectives to the examination of the DNS and Internet navigation. In some cases, they also held views that strongly conflicted with those of other committee members. The conclusions reached and the recommendations developed by the committee are thus the products of a multidimensional examination of the issues and a careful negotiation of agreements among members holding contrasting opinions. The sharp discussions and e-mail threads fueled by the committee’s diversity of experience and opinion helped it to avoid overly simple conclusions or recommendations reflecting just one perspective. Information gathering, discussion, argument,
The technologies that support finding information on the Internet are deployed within a complex and contentious national and international policy context. The “right” to use a particular domain name, like any name, can often be disputed. These disputes include conflicts among commercial claimants as well as conflicts between non-commercial and commercial claimants. Effective solutions must consider the potentially competing interests of domain name registrants and trademark holders; the different interests of stakeholders including businesses, from small firms to multinational corporations; educational, arts, and research institutions; not-for-profit charitable and service organizations; government entities at all levels from town to nation; nation-states and international organizations; and individuals (i.e., the general public); as well as public interests such as freedom of speech and personal privacy.
The project’s report will examine the degree to which the options offered by new technology or new uses of existing technology can mitigate concerns regarding commercial and public interests (which will include a discussion of trademark-related issues), facilitate or impede further evolution of the Internet, and affect steps being taken to enhance competition among domain name registrars, the portability of Internet names, and the stability of the Internet. For each of the prospective technologies, the final report is expected to characterize the institutions, governance structures, policies, and procedures that should be put in place to complement it and will specify the research (if any) required to design, develop, and implement the technology successfully. Also identified will be the options foregone or created by particular technologies and the difficulties associated with each technological alternative.
negotiation, and compromise were the stages the committee passed through in addressing most of the topics.
The committee did its work through its own deliberations and by soliciting input from a number of other experts (see Appendix B for a list of those who briefed the committee) and from the international public through an open invitation published on the Web.2 It first met in April 2001 and six times subsequently in plenary session. Additional information was derived from reviewing the published literature, monitoring selected listservs and Web sites, and obtaining informal input at various conferences and other meetings. Committee members and National Re-
See “The Future of Internet Navigation and the Domain Name System: An Invitation to Individuals Worldwide to Provide Input to a Study Conducted by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences,” available at <http://www7.nationalacademies.org/cstb/project_dns_input.html>.
search Council (NRC) staff made several site visits, which included participation in meetings of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet Engineering Task Force, and the World Summit on the Information Society. Significant input was also derived from committee members during the course of their professional activities outside of the committee’s work. During the editorial phase of the study, facts were checked for accuracy with either published sources or subject experts.
At the outset of the study, some conflict and controversy were expected, given the intense debate about the DNS and its associated institutions such as the ICANN and the rapidly growing interest in the use of commercially sponsored navigation services. We were not disappointed. However, the committee was able to achieve consensus in a number of areas as described in the main text. Moreover, the committee believes that this report represents a contribution to future discussions related to the DNS by serving as a reference document containing much of the basic, relevant technical and institutional background material and many of the policy alternatives in as clear and objective a manner as possible.
A number of committee members withdrew from the committee for various reasons. In a few instances, new employment or professional opportunities raised conflict-of-interest concerns. Several committee members were simply unable to participate in the committee’s work because of increased professional or personal obligations.
Although the report refers to several companies, products, and services by name, such reference does not constitute an endorsement by the committee or the National Academies.
The committee appreciates the support and guidance of its sponsors. The committee’s initial contacts at the U.S. Department of Commerce were J. Beckwith Burr, Amy Page, and Karen Rose, and in the later portion of the study, Cathy Handley and Robin Layton. Aubrey Bush and George Strawn were the committee’s initial contacts at the National Science Foundation, with Darleen Fisher assuming this role during the final months of the project. The committee also appreciates the financial support of CSTB’s core sponsors: the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Cisco Systems, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Department of Energy, Intel Corporation, Microsoft Research, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Library of Medicine, National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, and the Vadesz Family Fund. Additional financial support was provided by the National Research Council.
In addition, we would like to thank those individuals who provided valuable inputs into the committee’s deliberations. Those who briefed the committee at one of our plenary meetings are listed in Appendix B. Others who provided us with important inputs include Ronald Andruff (RNA Partners, Inc.), Carl Bildt (AG Global Solutions and ICANN At-Large Study Committee), Mason Cole (SnapNames), Shari Garmise (Cleveland State University), Carolyn T. Hoover (dotCoop), Cary Karp (MuseDoma), Kalpana Shankar (University of California, Los Angeles), Paul Twomey (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), Anastasia Zhadina (Robin, Blecker & Daley), and Matthew Zook (University of Kentucky). We would also like to acknowledge those organizations that hosted committee meetings: AOL Time Warner, Inc.; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Los Angeles; Harvard University; and VeriSign, Inc. Thanks go, too, to Jonathan O. Chan, consultant, for his help with a translation.
The committee appreciates the thoughtful comments received from the reviewers of this report and the efforts of the NRC’s report review coordinator and monitor. The review draft stimulated a large volume of comments, each of which was taken into account during revision of the draft. Many of the comments provided additional reference material and observations to bolster or counter the committee’s earlier thinking, thus helping the committee to sharpen and improve the report. However, the reviewers are not responsible for the report’s conclusions or recommendations, with which some of them may disagree, or for its structure and specific content. Those are solely the committee’s responsibility.
Finally, the committee would like to acknowledge the staff of the NRC for their work. Special appreciation is accorded to Alan S. Inouye, who as the study director had overall staff responsibility for the conduct of the study and for the development and completion of this report. Margaret Marsh Huynh handled the administrative aspects of the project, such as organizing meeting logistics. Marjory S. Blumenthal, as director of CSTB through June 2003, and her successor, Charles N. Brownstein, provided the committee with valuable administrative and technical guidance. Cynthia Patterson and Kristen Batch supplied research and writing support at various stages of the report drafting and revising process. The committee would also like to thank Jennifer M. Bishop, Janet Briscoe, and Renee Hawkins of the CSTB staff; Susan Maurizi of the NRC’s editorial staff; Liz Panos of the staff of the Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences; and Janice Mehler of the Report Review Committee for their support of the committee’s work.
Roger Levien, Chair
Committee on Internet Navigation and the Domain Name System
Acknowledgment of Reviewers
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:
Aristotle Balogh, VeriSign, Inc.
Timothy Bray, Textuality
J. Beckwith Burr, Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering
kc claffy, Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis
David D. Clark, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Steve Crocker, Shinkuro, Inc.
Bruce Croft, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Leslie Daigle, VeriSign, Inc.
Graeme Dinwoodie, Chicago-Kent College of Law
Joseph Farrell, University of California, Berkeley
Michael Froomkin, University of Miami
Hector Garcia-Molina, Stanford University
Marti Hearst, University of California, Berkeley
Randy H. Katz, University of California, Berkeley
Butler W. Lampson, Microsoft Corporation
F. Thomson Leighton, Akamai Technologies and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Michael Lesk, Rutgers University
Lars-Johan Liman, Autonomica
Clifford Lynch, Coalition for Networked Information
M. Stuart Lynn, Independent Consultant*
Tom M. Mitchell, Carnegie Mellon University
Ivan Png, National University of Singapore
Fred B. Schneider, Cornell University
Paul Vixie, PAIX.net, Inc.
Tan Tin Wee, National University of Singapore
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Alexander H. Flax, independent consultant, and Joseph Bannister, University of Southern California. Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.