Network Solutions – Registry and registrar businessNetwork Solutions, Inc. (NSI) first operated the domain name system (DNS) registry under a sub-contract with the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) in September 1991. NSI gave out names in .com, .org, .mil, .gov, .edu and .net for free, along with free Internet Protocol (IP) address blocks. This work was performed at the Chantilly offices of GSI, the primary contractor, a corporation formed by Infonet to avoid foreign ownership of U.S. government contracts. The Network Information Center at SRI International had performed the work under Elizabeth J. Feinler since 1972.
In 1992, NSI was the sole bidder on a grant from the National Science Foundation to further develop the domain name registration service for the Internet. In 1993, NSI was granted an exclusive contract by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to be the sole domain name registrar for .com (commerce), .net (network) and .org (organization) Top Level Domain (TLD) names, a continuation of work NSI had already been doing. NSI also maintained the central database of assigned names called WHOIS. A contract was given to Boeing to operate the .mil registry, and was also performed by NSI under subcontract.
In 1995, the National Science Foundation gave Network Solutions authority to charge for domain name registrations. Network Solutions charged $100 for two years registration. The fee was imposed on all domains and 30% of this revenue went to the NSF to create an “Internet Intellectual Infrastructure Fund.” In 1997, a lawsuit was filed charging Network Solutions with antitrust violations with regard to domain names. The 30% of the registration fee that went to the NSF was ruled by a court to be an illegal tax. This led to a reduction in the domain name registration fee to $70.
In the 1990s, Network Solutions implemented a policy of censoring domain names. This came to light when Jeff Gold attempted to register the domain name shitakemushrooms.com but was unable to. Further aggravating the controversy was Network Solutions’ automated screens blocked the registration of shitakemushrooms.com, though the domain name ‘shit.com’ had been successfully registered. Network Solutions argued that it was within its First Amendment rights to block words it found offensive, even though it was operating pursuant to contract with a Federal agency.
Network Solutions’ $100 charge, which many parties believed was excessive, in addition to its monopoly position in the market, was one of the contributing pressures that resulted in the creation of the International Ad Hoc Committee and its failed attempt to take control of the domain name system, and to the US Department of Commerce, NTIA releasing the White Paper and ultimately contracting with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to administer the DNS.
With the formation of ICANN in 1998, the domain name industry opened up to partial competition, with NSI retaining its monopoly on .com, .net and .org but having to recognize a separation of registry, which manages the underlying database of domain names, and registrar, which acts as a retail provider of domain names. To achieve this separation, NSI created a “firewall” between the two new divisions of the business, creating separate technical infrastructure, organizations, and facilities. By the end of 1999 the fee for registration had been reduced, from $34.99, to a wholesale rate of $6 per year to registered resellers.
In August 2009, Network Solutions notified customers that its “secure” servers were breached, and led to the exposure of names, address, and credit card numbers of 573,928 people who made purchases on Web sites hosted by the company. Susan Wade, a spokesperson for Network Solutions, said, “We really feel terrible about this.” At the time of this writing, NSI does not know how their servers were compromised.
One year later in August 2010, Network Solutions discovered that one of their widgets offered to their domain registration and hosting customers was capable of distributing malware by sites displaying it. As many as 5,000,000 of their registered domains may have been affected by the hack. The affected widget was at least temporarily addressed by Network Solutions, who were able to make changes to the code to prevent it from loading.
Directory and Database Services would be provided by AT&T
AT&T announced today that it has signed a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation to provide directory and database services for NSFNET, the National Science Foundation national data network that is part of the Internet. The Internet is comprised of more than 5,000 computer networks that facilitate collaboration among members of the research and education community. The Internet, and in particular NSFNET, is projected to serve as a basis for evolution to the National Research and Education Network (NREN).
Under the terms of the agreement, AT&T will develop and maintain a Directory of Directories which will serve as a pointer to numerous resources on the Internet. It will include lists of FTP (File Transfer Protocol) sites, lists of various types of servers available on the Internet, lists of white and yellow pages directories, library catalogs and data archives. The Directory of Directories will enable even novice users to obtain references to information they need through simple, easy-to-use interfaces. AT&T also will provide white and yellow pages type directory services, such as names of users, organizations and resources on the Internet, using X.500 technology, the current standard specification for distributed information storage and retrieval.
As part of its database services, AT&T will establish database servers to extend and supplement the resources of the NSFNET, including databases of contributed materials of common interest to the user community and communications documents. AT&T also will offer database design, management and maintenance services to organizations and groups for inclusion in the Inter- net. Initially, access to all services will be provided through several currently popular in-use interface methods; with time, it is anticipated that X.500 will become the primary method of access.
In providing these services, AT&T will work cooperatively with two other organizations: CERFNet, a General Atomics project, which was awarded a similar agreement for information services, and with Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI), which was awarded a similar agreement for registration services. The three corporations will collaborate under a common concept called IN-
“We all feel intuitively that the domestic Internet and the distributed collaboration that it facilitates are rapidly creating a national ‘workplace without walls,’” said Steve Wolff, Director, Division of Networking and Communications Research and Infrastructure, NSF. “These three awards to geographically dispersed organizations for Network Information Services will both exploit and demonstrate the success of the network in enabling distributed collaboration.” “These directory and database services are essential components of the emerging national information infrastructure,” said Erik Grimmelmann, Marketing Director, Internet/NREN, AT&T Data Communications Services.
“This agreement marks an important step for the Internet as well as for AT&T because services such as these and the related ones to be provided by our INTERNIC collaborators will make the Internet even more useful than it is today.” The cooperative agreement is for a five-year period, with annual reviews. It is expected that the NSF will contribute ap- proximately one third of the costs, with another third provided by AT&T and the remainder recovered in user fees. The user fees, which have been proposed for maintenance of special databases and extensive directory listings, are consis- tent with Federal Networking Council (FNC) cost recovery guidelines.
The user fees were part of AT&T’s proposal, which was evaluated by an NSF review panel and approved by the NSF. The full text of the NSF statement on INTERNIC user fees is included at the end of this release. The agreement is a natural extension of AT&T’s strong commitment to education, research and the advancement of high-speed data networking. For example, AT&T operates XUNET (Experimental University Network), a high speed experimental research network for the academic community, and is a key participant in the CNRI (Corporation for National Research Initiative) sponsored BLANCA gigabit testbed. AT&T also supports collaborative applications research projects of direct relevance to the Internet, including an information retrieval service, an image retrieval service and a newly developed directory concept called “nomenclator” that has been shown to improve response time tremendously when searching large directories.
Information Services would be provided by General Atomics
General Atomics is a defense contractor headquartered in San Diego, California, specializing in nuclear physics. General Atomics’ research into nuclear fission and nuclear fusion has also had bearing on related technologies, allowing the company to expand into other fields of research and manufacturing. General Atomics develops systems[clarification needed] ranging from the nuclear fuel cycle to remotely operated surveillance aircraft, airborne sensors, advanced electric, electronic, wireless, and laser technologies.
1993: Awarded the “Information Services” portion of the NSF contract for InterNIC functions and publishes Internet Scout Report.