The usTLD Stakeholder Council (“Council”) is seeking public comments on its recommendation to maintain the suspension of the kids.us third-level namespace for the current term of the .US Contract1. Under the suspension, the existing page found at www.kids.us would be maintained; no registrations within kids.us would be permitted, nor content developed for the kids.us namespace.

On May 14, 2015 a majority of the Council voted to maintain the ongoing suspension of the kids.us namespace for the current contract term due to historical context and the inability to drive usage of the namespace within the existing policy framework.

The recommendation to suspend the kids.us namespace follows a recommendation in the Kids.us Education Advisory Committee (“Committee”) Final Report that Neustar and the Council should maintain the existing suspension. After several meetings the Committee, comprising experts in online education and childhood development, determined that the required policy framework for kids.us was overly restrictive and unsuited for today’s internet landscape.

Background

The kids.us namespace is governed by a restrictive policy framework established by Congress in the 2002 Kids.us Implementation and Efficiency Act, which, among other requirements, sets forth the following for kids.us:

  • Content restrictions prohibiting mature content, pornography, inappropriate language, violence, criminal activity, hate speech, drugs, weapons, gambling, alcohol, and tobacco;
  • A prohibition on hyperlinking outside of the kids.us zone;
  • Tight restrictions on the use of two-way messaging services;
  • A requirement to offer educational and informational content; and
  • A content review of all domains in kids.us.

Due in large to this restrictive framework, the kids.us namespace saw few and declining registrations and active websites, despite discounts on registrations and efforts to promote the namespace to children’s content providers. By 2011, the number of registrations was down to 651, with only six active websites, all of which were by providers with a more robust presence on another top-level domain. In aggregate, these sites garnered only 470 unique visitors per year.

In light of these conditions, in 2012 Neustar requested and was granted by the Department of Commerce a temporary suspension of the namespace; new registrations were halted, and existing registrations were either allowed to lapse or terminated with refund.

Though the option to suspend the namespace is provided for in the initial legislation, the restrictive framework can only by changed by a subsequent Act of Congress to revise the existing legislation. This condition makes it difficult and unlikely that the policy framework can be revised in such a way that would drive registrations.

Promoting quality content for children, supporting digital literacy and helping to prepare America’s next generation to compete in the digital economy are of the utmost priority to the Council, as is reflected in the Council Charter. Notwithstanding, we believe that these efforts would be better applied elsewhere.US, than within the existing kids.us framework or on undertaking to change this legislations and are consistent with the request to suspend kids.us with for the remaining term of the .US Contract.

Questions

The Council is seeking public comments on the following questions:

  • Do you support the continued suspension of the kids.us namespace for the term of the .US contract?
  • How should .US and the Stakeholder Council promote these same goals in today’s internet landscape?

Comments will be published and provided to the usTLD Stakeholder Council and Secretariat for consideration. Comments or questions can be provided by emailing stakeholdercouncil@neustar.us.

More information on how to participate in the activities of the usTLD Stakeholder Council can be found on the Council website.


1. The .US Contract was awarded by the Department of Commerce to Neustar, Inc. in November 2015 for a base period of two years with two additional one-year option periods. The base period will conclude on November 30, 2016 and the first and second option periods will conclude on November 30 2017 and 2018, respectively.