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Neustar shoots the corpse of .kids.us

Kevin Murphy, September 10, 2015, Domain Registries

The ill-conceived, barely used .kids.us domain is to stay dead, Neustar confirmed last night.

The .us registry operator said that its Stakeholder Council met August 17 and:

carefully considered the report on the kids.us domain and unanimously recommended that the requirement be suspended for the life of the .us contract.

Neustar had been forced into making a call about reintroducing .kids.us by its current .us contract, which it signed in March 2014.

One October 2014 expert report and May 2015 comment period later, and the decision has been made to keep the idea suspended.

.kids.us was introduced via US legislation as a way to make politicians look like they were doing something create a friendly space for the under 13s.

But the zone wound up with reg numbers that make new gTLDs look popular, so the decision was made in 2012 to kill it off.

Neustar’s .us contract lasts another two to four years, and that’s how long the suspension will last, at least.

US revives .kids.us in new Neustrar contract

Neustar has been awarded a new three-to-five-year contract to manage the .us ccTLD, under a deal with the US Department of Commerce announced today.

It’s a renewal of a role that Neustar has held since .us was relaunched in 2001, but the new contract come with a few notable new provisions.

First, it seems that the company is now obliged to bring some “multi-stakeholder” oversight into the management of the TLD. Neustar said in a press release:

In 2014, Neustar plans to launch a new multi-stakeholder council including members representing localities, registrars, small businesses and non-profit organizations as well as entities involved with STEM education and cybersecurity. The .US TLD Stakeholder Council will provide a vibrant, diverse, and independent forum for future development of the .US TLD, working directly with .US TLD stakeholders and helping Neustar to identify public needs and develop policies, programs, and partnerships to address those needs while continuing to enhance America’s address.

Second, it looks like .kids.us might not be dead after all.

The third-level service was introduced as a result of the poorly considered Dot Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act of 2002, which forced Neustar to operate a child-friendly zone in .us.

The Department of Commerce killed off .kids.us in 2012, but the new .us contract (pdf) says:

Notwithstanding the June 2012 determination to suspend operation of kids.us domain under the current contract, DOC seeks proposals to rejuvenate the kids.us space to increase utilization, utility and awareness of the kids.us domain.

The contract has several more references to Neustar’s obligation to promote the SLD. At the time it was killed off, there were just a handful of registered names in the space.

The contract also says that .us currently has just shy of 1.8 million names under management.

American government kills off .kids.us

The US government is killing off the failed .kids.us domain, ten years after it was created by Congress.

The decision was explained in a statement posted on www.kids.us:

As a result of the changed landscape of the Internet and the many other tools that parents now have available to them to protect their children’s online experience, effective July 27, 2012, the Department of Commerce suspended the kids.us

An accompanying document (pdf) from Commerce says that .us registry operator Neustar should stop accepting new registrations and ask registrants to suspend their sites.

All .kids.us domains will be removed from the .us zone by June 27, 2013.

The .kids.us space was created by the Dot Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act of 2002 and essentially forced on Neustar as a means for some politicians to get some family-friendly fluff on their voting records.

It’s been considered an abject failure ever since, largely due to its strict content regulations and a lack of marketing.

From the Google results and the old .kids.us directory, I’d estimate the number of registrations at fewer than 100.

In the new gTLD program there are two applicants for .kids — Amazon and DotKids Foundation. There’s also an applicant for .kid and an applicant for the Russian “.children”.