Price will be a key factor in making kids.us a
haven for serious developers rather than domain speculators. General
registrations will cost about $100USD annually,
with an additional annual content assessment fee of $250USD
tacked on for active websites to make sure the proposed site is
suitable for the new children's zone. So when you visit sites like WhoIs
Source to check the daily registration figures, don't
expect to see kids.us racking up big numbers—even though it will almost certainly have a
big impact on young people's lives.
For those new to the kids.us story, the extension is simply a sub-domain of .US, the official United States country code. For years, there has
been a movement in America to provide safe Internet access for
children. Measures have ranged from software solutions like Net
Nanny to "parental controls" from AOL and other service
providers. The problem with relying on software controls was that
too much spam, pornography and other garbage still got through the
The U.S. Congress finally decided a unique
“safe zone” for children was needed to protect young surfers. A
bill was drafted and finally signed into law by President Bush on
December 4, 2002. The contract to administer the new namespace went
to Virginia-based NeuStar, the company already in charge of the base
NeuStar has run .US
extremely well, and registrations are strong, with over 650,000
.US names registered
since the extension debuted in April 2002. .US continues to gain
market share and the awareness level of the .US
namespace grows stronger each day. Fortune 500 companies are not
only registering .US
names but building on those addresses. www.olympic.us,
www.goodyear.us, and www.westerndigital.us
are just a few examples of .US
sites set up by major corporations.
Many in the domain industry believe that the
rollout of kids.us in homes and classrooms across America will give the entire
.US name space a huge boost in public awareness. The “Dot
Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act” (Public Law 107-317) requires the following:
"(f) EDUCATION - The United States
Department of Commerce’s NTIA shall carry out a program to
publicize the availability of the new domain and to educate the
parents of minors regarding the process for utilizing the new domain
in combination and coordination with hardware and software
technologies that provide for filtering or blocking. The program
under this subsection shall be commenced not later than 30 days
after the date that the new domain first becomes operational and
accessible by the public."
That requirement to educate the public about
is now part of the law of the land. Still questions remain as
to what form that "education" will take - will it be
flyers, radio, TV, the Internet? Will the marketing extend into the
nation's school systems as well? To answer those questions and
others, we called on NeuStar and reached Melinda Clem,
Director of Business Development.
Congratulations, Melinda. After many years of hard work, kids.us
is officially out of the starting gate. With the main issue
being the protection of children from porn, spam and other dangers,
can you give us an overview of the security NeuStar is incorporating
into the kids.us namespace?
Thank you. NeuStar is very excited to
be a part of this innovative new place for children on the Internet.
To begin, we are managing the kids.us domain from our highly secure and reliable Internet registry
platform. Registrars and registrants benefit equally from this
near-real time registration system that is both highly secure and
available. Further, we have defined numerous processes that balance
technology, operational expertise, and policy to ensure only
child-appropriate content appears in the kids.us
reasonable people understand that that no system is going to be 100%
secure, and parents will be looking to fill in those gaps. Has
NeuStar considered a “Neighborhood Watch” of sorts, where parents
and webmasters can be the eyes and ears looking out for any websites
that might abuse the kids.us
is an important step in supplying a framework to put parents
and educators at ease while children use the Internet, but it is not
intended to be a replacement for supervision. Beyond our internal
review processes, we are providing a simple mechanism with which any
individual can contact us and report alleged infractions of the
kids.us Content Policy, which is the policy that defines the content
forbidden in the space. We encourage supervision and review; the
domain will thrive when there are several parties committed to its
the sunrise period limited to trademark owners, what types of
registrants have you seen: “Disney-sized” corporations, smaller
businesses, or individuals that hold trademarks?
have experienced a myriad of registrations from industries serving
both children and a broader age market, and these are from companies
both large and small.
Most domains are never actually developed into websites. I
believe, for example, that .com only has about 25 percent of its
registered domains currently resolving to live websites. Looking at
the higher registration cost and the restrictions placed on how
may be used, one would assume that the ratio of developed
sites would be extremely high. Would it be fair to say that kids.us
will be characterized more by quality than quantity?
are optimistic that the kids.us
space will have a
strong “active” presence, given its unique nature and highly
focused market. This is the first opportunity organizations have to
reach a single age group with their website; now, they need not
tailor to a broad age group within a single web presence. We agree
that the success of kids.us
should be measured by
the quality of rewarding websites available within the space, and
not the quantity as compared to the Internet as a whole.
Melinda, there has been much speculation about how the U.S. public
school system fits into all of this. Can you share with us how
expected to be used in the school system, and what forms of
education of the students and parents about kids.us
is being used?
As kids.us grows—that is, as we begin to see more and more content
available in the space—we hope that educators will embrace kids.us
and focus their activities and programs exclusively around
content within the domain. Educators can also act as strong
advocates of kids.us, and
encourage content providers to use this domain that will become so
vital to their curriculum.
the promotion of kids.us revving
up, is NeuStar expecting an uptick in awareness and registrations
for the parent domain, .US?
positive media around kids.us,
specifically the promotion of active websites, should increase the
brand awareness of .US as a whole. We anticipate that more Americans will become familiar with
the availability of their country code, and see it as a strong
alternative to existing and cluttered domains.
aftermarket for domain speculators seems to be gaining steam again
after the .com crash a few years ago. Is NeuStar placing any
additional restrictions on kids.us
with respect to the secondary buying and selling of kids.us names,
specifically for the September 2003 start of open registration?
ownership comes responsibility. Pursuant to the kids.us Content Policy, the registrant of any third-level
kids.us domain is wholly responsible for all content within their
kids.us domain. Our goal is to facilitate and enhance the namespace through
active content, and we are focused on encouraging the positive
creation of enriching children’s content in the domain.
you for taking time out to bring us up to date on kids.us.
We would like to have you back after open registrations are underway
to see how the rollout is proceeding. There seems to be a lot of
excitement building around America's country code, and I'm sure
everyone wishes for our new “kid-safe zone” to be a major
you. We are working with the children’s community and marketplace
to define enhancements to kids.us,
and will be announcing these over the coming months. For example,
NeuStar will be launching a directory that will assist children in
navigating the domain. We certainly appreciate the opportunity to
discuss these and other important features and successes within
Note: Regular updates on the kids.us space
be found at www.kids.us.
McCullough is a domain name dealer and developer. His sites
to name just two.
us if you have any comments about Dan's article.