The .us TLD locality space is composed of domain names reflecting political geography based on two-letter state abbreviations and divided further into localities, including cities, counties, parishes, townships, or local names (e.g., <Alexandria.va.us>). In addition to geographical locality names, the space also includes certain affinity names such as, for example, STATE, FED, K12, LIB, and NSN.
Administration of .us TLD Edit
|“|| The United States controls and administers the “.us” TLD through the NTIA.
Until 2001, the NTIA restricted registration of Internet addresses, otherwise known as “domain names,” on the “.us” TLD to government entities. That year, the NTIA concluded a three-year administrative process by issuing a statement of work (“SOW”), setting out guidelines for private registrations on the “.us” TLD. Among other requirements, the SOW required the manager of “.us” TLD registrations to maintain and publish a public database of registrants' contact information, including the name and address of the domain name holder, as well as the name, telephone number, physical address and e-mail address for the technical and administrative contacts for the domain name (the “disclosure requirement”).
After issuing the SOW, the NTIA contracted . . . Neustar, Inc. to manage “.us” TLD registrations. The NTIA-Neustar agreement incorporated the substantive requirements of the SOW, including the disclosure requirement. The agreement also authorized Neustar to subcontract with third-parties to sell “.us” domain registrations, but required any such contracts to incorporate all of the substantive requirements of the NTIA-Neustar agreement. Therefore, any such third-party agreements necessarily incorporated the disclosure requirement.
In 2002, Neustar entered into a third-party registration agreement with GoDaddy.com to sell “.us” domain name registrations. Despite its contractual obligations, GoDaddy.com began selling such domain names through its “Domains by Proxy” service without satisfying the disclosure requirement. These proxy registrations allowed an individual to obtain a “.us” domain name without having his identity publicly disclosed. Instead, GoDaddy.com would appear by proxy in the database of “.us” registrants as the domain-name holder, even though the actual registrant controlled use of the IP address.
In 2005, while searching the database of “.us” domain registrants, the General Accounting Office discovered — and then contacted the NTIA regarding — a number of domain holders with inaccurate contact information. After conducting its own investigation, the NTIA wrote Neustar to address the presence of inaccurate contact information, ordering it to instruct all third-party registrars to cease offering proxy services and to bring all existing proxy registrations into compliance with the disclosure requirement. Neustar complied and directed all third-party registrars to update existing registrations by January 26, 2006 and cease proxy services by February 16, 2006.