Congressional Committee To Discuss Domain Fees

A House committee Wednesday will debate a bill that would return money to domain registrants that was originally collected by Network Solutions and deposited in the Internet Intellectual Infrastructure Fund to be managed by the government.

In April 1998, a federal judge ruled NSI lacked the authority to impose the $15 a year fee and Network Solutions stopped collecting it. Since the decision, NSI has not been allowed to spend any of the estimated $50 million that has been collected. Of that total, $23 million was to go to the Internet II project currently underway.

On Feb. 11, U.S. Rep. Lee Terry, a Nebraska Republican, introduced the “Home Page Tax Repeal Act” that would reinstate the court’s original decision, allowing the money collected for the fund to be redistributed to domain registrants. The bill would allow the NSF to use money from its 1999 budget to meet its 1998 Next Generation Internet obligations.

The House Subcommittee on Basic Research will hear from a number of witnesses, including Larry Rudolph, general counsel for the National Science Foundation and David McClure, executive director of the Association of Online Professionals.

In 1992, the National Science Foundation granted NSI an exclusive five-year contract to register second-level domain names. In 1994, the NSF granted NSI the right to charge a fee for the service. Beginning in 1995, NSI started collecting $100 for registrations which would last for two years. Thirty percent of the money was deposited in the special fund.

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