.US Requests Public Comment on Premium Domains and Privacy Service

Philip CorwinUncategorized

It has been my honor for the past two years to have been a member of the .US TLD Stakeholder Council http://www.neustar.us/ustld-stakeholder-council and, in that capacity, to provide the perspective of domain investors and developers to the operation of the USA’s ccTLD.

On Thursday, December 15th .US issued two important requests for public comment. The first relates to the potential release of 1 and 2 character .US domains, and is particularly significant for domain investors and other potential end users. The second relates to the potential allowance of .US domain registrants to utilize privacy protection services for the first time.

The comment period for both requests closes on January 16, 2017. Anyone can file a comment, and ICA is soliciting feedback from its members as it considers filing its own.


Here is some background information provided by Neustar on the two proposals. Full PDFs containing additional information are available through the hyperlinks below—

usTLD Premium Domain Name Plan http://www.neustar.us/ustld-stakeholder-council/ustld-premium-domain-name-plan/

The usTLD Stakeholder Council (“Council”) and Neustar, Inc. (“Neustar”), the registry operator for the usTLD, is seeking public comment on the Council’s recommendation to Neustar to release one and two character domain names in connection with the usTLD Premium Domain Name (“PDN”) plan. The primary goal of the proposed PDN Plan is to increase the use and awareness of the .US brand in the consumer marketplace. Additionally, the PDN Plan provides the opportunity for Neustar to allocate .US Premium Names to support organizations or activities that will help spread awareness or encourage growth of the .US domain.


As part of an overall effort by Neustar, to raise awareness and use of the .US domain, the PDN Plan would make available to the public at a premium price certain high-value, highly-visible, premium .US domain names (“.US Premium Domains”), some of which are currently designated as “reserved” (including one- and two-character .US domain names), and others that would be newly designated as such. Given the level of investment, buyers of high value premium domain names typically put these names to good use – building web properties that are heavily marketed and promoted. This is beneficial to the entire namespace, getting the most coveted names circulated.

While intended to protect existing intellectual property rights and preserve the legacy locality namespace, the release and implementation of a premium name space will foster new growth for the .US domain extension using current best practices and allocation standards. Throughout the plan, all policies and restrictions regarding two-character state and territorial abbreviations or numbered domain names are recommended to still be in effect.


For more details, please review the full text of the plan.


The Council is seeking public comments on the following questions:

Should the usTLD policy be revised to allow the release of 1 and 2 character domains?

Should the usTLD registry operator include currently unregistered and registered name as premium names? (The premium plan will not affect existing registrants’ domain names, nor will it affect transfers of existing names.)

What, if any, impact would the introduction of 2 character names at the second level have on the legacy city.state.us registrations in .US? Please explain any concerns you have in detail.


.US TLD Privacy Service Plan http://www.neustar.us/ustld-stakeholder-council/ustld-privacy-service-plan/

The usTLD Stakeholder Council (“Council”) and Neustar, Inc. (“Neustar”), the registry operator for the usTLD, is seeking public comment on its recommendation to allow for the implementation of a registry-based wholesale privacy registration service in the .US Top Level Domain. Stakeholders at the 2015 usTLD Stakeholder Town Hall identified the lack of privacy services as a key issue suppressing domain name registration in the .US TLD. In an increasingly competitive landscape, in which many of the competitors to .US allow some type of privacy or proxy service, Neustar and the Council want to increase domain name registrations to ensure a robust, healthy namespace and believe that the implementation of such services will put .US on an equal footing with its closest competitors in both the generic and country code top-level domain namespaces.


Neustar operates registry services for the usTLD pursuant to a contract with the Department of Commerce. Currently, that contract does not allow for the provision of privacy services. When a registrant buys a domain name, registry policy in line with industry standards require registrars to obtain and provide to the registry, the registrant’s contact information, including name, physical address, email address, and phone number. This information is publically available in the WHOIS database, a searchable directory that holds all the contact information for domain name registrants. The WHOIS database is freely searchable by anyone with access to the internet. In these times of increased awareness of the dangers of identity theft and other threats, many registries and registrars offer privacy services to their registrants. A privacy service lists alternative, reliable registrant contact information in WHOIS, while keeping the domain name registered to its beneficial user, the registrant.

The Council is requesting your comments on a plan that will be submitted to the Department of Commerce that will request authority under the contract to allow privacy services to be implemented for .US.


For more details, please review the full text of the plan.


The Council is seeking public comments on the following questions:

Do you support the implementation of privacy services for .US domain name holders?

What issues, if any, will registrars have with implementing privacy services as set forth in the plan?

Does the plan adequately address the concerns of law enforcement while preserving the expected level of privacy of registrants who request the service?