Magazine article American Libraries

.US Domain Goes Public; ALA Joins Policy Group. (News Fronts USA)

Magazine article American Libraries

.US Domain Goes Public; ALA Joins Policy Group. (News Fronts USA)

Article excerpt

On April 24, the .us Internet country domain was released for sale to the American public. Within hours, buyers registered more than 20,000 names, including firstamendment.us, churches.us, and nonprofit.us, alongside the thousands of long-established .us sites previously reserved for libraries, schools, and local governments. "Here's a public space that we just allowed to be strip-mined," Rob Courtney of the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) told CNN April 30.

On the same day the .us domain went public, NeuStar--the Washington, D.C.-based firm awarded the contract to operate the domain--named Claudette Tennant of the American Library Association's Washington Office to the newly formed 10-member .US Policy Council. ALA, along with the American Association of School Administrators and the National Association of Independent Schools, had expressed concerns in October 2000 about commercializing .us domains to relieve the overcrowding of the .com domain. "As the Internet is privatized, the .us TLD [top-level domain] is one of the few potential levers remaining by which government can protect and advance public purposes," the groups noted to the U.S. Department of Commerce, which chose to reserve 51,922 .us domains.

Emphasizing that "commercialization isn't necessarily a bad thing," Tennant told American Libraries that the Association had nonetheless sought an oversight role to protect "this unique American resource" so that "the basic nature of the space doesn't change in a way that makes it somewhere we don't want to be."

With the .us domain open to buyers first-come, first-serve, Tennant cautioned, "Libraries are going to have to be on top of their [domain] renewals" lest their expired URLs be snatched up by commercial concerns seeking to capitalize on the image of libraries as places of "openness, trustworthiness, and sharing. We have to be careful that the commercial world doesn't exploit that to our detriment." According to the list of reserved names posted at www.neustar.us/registrars/, the few library-specific .us names that are not for sale include the .us domains of presidential libraries library.us, and libraryofcongress.us.

There goes the .hood

Mincing no words, CDT Executive Director Jerry Berman characterized as "arbitrary and deeply flawed" the Department of Commerce's decision to restrict Internet names such as georgewbush.us, laurabush. …

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