White Paper

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A White Paper is an official government report prepared by an individual or a group of individuals who conducted relevant research and with expert opinion on particular issues. When the White Paper is discussed in ICANN circles, it is generally in reference to the document that set-the stage for the actual incorporation of the organization itself.

The White Paper is informative and authoritative in nature and it used by its authors to present arguments, policy revisions and recommendations as solution to problems. [1] In some cases, a White Paper is written after a Green Paper has been published as follow-up to give the community or the public the opportunity to provide their comments during the consultation process. If the White Paper is accepted by all the parties involved, an action will be taken to put it into effect.

Generally, the main purpose of the White Paper is to encourage the community and promote specific positions as solutions to a given problem, or the best route to improve the organization's policy.

NTIA White Paper

The by-laws and the articles of incorporation of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers was based on the principles set forth by the U.S. government's White Paper entitled, Management of Internet Names and Addresses prepared by the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA).[2]


On July 1, 1997, Pres. Bill Clinton instructed Department of Commerce Sec. William Daley to privatize the management of the Domain Name System as part of his administration's Framework for Global Electronic Commerce which was proposed by his senior policy adviser, Ira Magaziner. The framework calls for the creation of a non-profit self-regulatory body that will promote competition and resolve potential disputes on the use of domain names and trademark laws internationally.[3]

Department of Commerce RFC

In response to the President's directive, the Department of Commerce issued a Request for Comments on DNS administration to explore the appropriate future role of the U.S. Government in the DNS on July 2, 1997, on behalf of the previously formed inter-agency working group. The RFC solicited public comments on issues related to the overall framework of the DNS system, the creation of new top-level domains, policies for registrars, and trademark issues.The Department received more than 430 comments.

The Green Paper

On July 30, 1998, the NTIA published a Green Paper entitled, Proposal to Improve Technical Management of Internet Names and Addresses as a follow-up to the RFC. The Green Paper seeks to request further comments on the proposals of the Federal government to improve the technical management of the internet DNS by transferring its management to a private non-profit organization that will ensure competition in domain name registrations[4]

The White Paper

After receiving comments from the internet community regarding the Green Paper, NTIA issued the White Paper, which detailed the US government's policy statement on the Management of Internet Names and Addresses. [5]

Call for Management Change

The main purpose of the White Paper was to create a new corporation that would manage domain names, IP addresses, and protocols. In 1992, the US government authorized the National Science Foundation to manage the DNS system, however the Internet community expressed a widespread dissatisfaction to its management style, which led to a call for change. The issues raised by the internet community include:[6]

  • Lack of Competition in domain name registrations.
  • Conflicts between trademark holders and domain name holders became common and the ways in solving the issues are complicated and expensive.
  • Commercial internet stakeholders calling for the successful growth of the industry and for more formal and robust management structure.
  • The global use of internet is increasing rapidly and international internet stakeholders expressed their interest to participate in coordinating internet development.
  • The commercial value of internet names are growing and the decision to add new top-level domains cannot be made on an ad hoc committee by entities or individuals that are not formally accountable to the Internet community.
  • It is inappropriate for the US research agencies to directly supervise and provide funding since the internet is increasingly becoming commercial.

Key Principles in Establishing a New Corporation

The establishment of a new corporation to manage the internet domain names and IP addresses was to follow the four core principles laid out by the White paper. These key principles include:[7]

  1. Competition- Management of names and numbering resources should be driven by consumer choice and market mechanisms that support and promote competition
  2. Stability- The corporation who will manage the internet should maintain and prioritize the security and stability of the Domain Name System.
  3. Private Bottom-Up Coordination- The management of the DNS should maintain transparency and accountability.
  4. Representation The management of the new corporation should benefit the whole internet community and ensure geographical representation and international participation in its activities and decision-making process.

Response to the White Paper

The White Paper led to the creation of ICANN, which entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Commerce to coordinate the development, structure and testing of the mechanisms and processes needed in management transfer of the DNS to the private sector. ICANN was officially incorporated in 1998.[8]