2000 to 2012: An attempt to create
a safe place for kids on the Internet.
Do kids need a safe place to surf?
On 2002-SEP-12, NeuStar, Inc. a private technology and registry company, testified before the Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation about the need for a domain where kids can safely surf.
A NeuStar representative testified:
"The question of how we, as a society, can protect children on the
Internet has long been a perplexing question for individuals, industry and
government. Numerous efforts, including browser filters, legislative
mandates, educational campaigns, and rating systems have all met with
varying levels of success. By no means, however, has the problem been
solved. As with any important matter, if the solution were easy, someone
would have fixed the problem long ago."
"In recent years, the concept of a 'kidâs space on the Internet' has
developed and gained some acceptance. The idea was focused, in the first
instance, on the establishment of a new .kids top-level Internet domain [TLD].
With the reintroduction and expansion of .us, however, efforts shifted to
the development of a kids.us space, rather than the creation of a generic
As noted by the National Academy of Science (NAS) in its recent report 'Youth, Pornography, and the Internet,'
there is no single approach that will, on its own, protect children from
online dangers. 1 Thus, a place for children can only be
effective if it is accompanied by the many components identified by the NAS,
including parental involvement, adult supervision, social and educational
support, and publicly available, user-friendly, and cost-effective
technology-based tools. 2
The Internet Corporation for Assigning Names and Numbers (ICANN) has as
one of its responsibilities the regulation of Universal Resource
Locaters (URLs). These are the equivalent to a postal address for Internet
sites. For example:
During the fall of 2000, several companies that manage URLs asked ICANN to
create a new top domain called KIDS, as an alternative to the more commonly used
.COM, .ORG, .INFO, etc. It would be a safe place on the Internet for
children to surf, limited to web sites that are free of sexual content,
violence, etc. The idea was rejected because of the difficulty of establishing
rules that would apply worldwide. The Library Journal stated:
"A House bill forcing ICANN to establish
such a domain was debated in 2001, but it proved unworkable." 3
Getting the entire world to agree
on what is suitable material for children is an insurmountable problem.
The bill was called HR-2417, the "Dot Kids Domain
Name Act of 2001" and was aimed at persons under the age of 17. 4
On 2002-MAR, the House Telecommunications Subcommittee approved House
Resolution HR-3833 to create "KIDS.US" -- a second level domain (a.k.a. country code
top-level domain or ccTLD). 5 Apparently, in order to increase the likelihood of having the bill passed, the
age range was changed from 16 and under to 12 and under. They were able to do
this without involving ICANN because the proposed domain would only be a variation of
the existing "US" top level domain. Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), a
co-sponsor of the bill, said: that KIDS.US would be analogous to "a safe
playground with fences around it." 6 The text of the bill likens it to "a children's section within a library."
Parents could use Internet censorship software on their home computers to
restrict their children's Internet access so that they could only surf web sites
with a KIDS.US URL. Unfortunately, this would prevent children under the age of 13 from accessing almost all of the Internet, in which the vast majority of web sites are free of violence and sexual content.
The bill obtained near unanimous support in both the House and Senate.
President George W. Bush (R) signed the "Dot Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act of 2002"
into law on 2002-DEC-04. This act
requires that NeuStar:Â®
"... as the
administrator of the .US country code top-level domain (ccTLD), establish a
kids.us domain to serve as a haven for material that promotes positive
experiences for children and families using the Internet, provides a safe online
environment for children, and helps to prevent children from being exposed to
harmful material on the Internet." 6,7
NeuStar created an independent committee to
set criteria to be met by webmasters who wished to include their sites in the
domain. A "sunrise" interval was provided to allow companies to register URLs
containing their own trademarks. When that concluded, the sub-domain was made
available for general use.
Sites on "KIDS.US" were limited in many ways. They were prohibited from including:
Material that is harmful to minors. This includes information, coding or
The average person, applying contemporary community standards, would
find, taking the material as a whole and with respect to minors, that it
was designed to appeal to, or is designed to pander to, the prurient
The material depicts, describes, or represents, in a manner patently
offensive with respect to minors, an actual or simulated sexual act or
sexual contact, an actual or simulated normal or perverted sexual act,
or a lewd exhibition of the genitals or post-pubescent female breast;
Taken as a whole,...lacked serious, literary, artistic,
political, or scientific value for minors.
Material that Is not suitable for minors. Suitable information that could be shown included
Was not psychologically or intellectually inappropriate for minors;
Served the educational, informational, intellectual, or cognitive
needs of minors; or the social, emotional, or entertainment needs of
Discussion of specific topics, including mature content, pornography, inappropriate
language, violence, hate speech, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, weapons,
and criminal activity.
Hyperlinks to other web sites that are outside the KIDS.US domain.
The provision of File Transfer Protocol, Telnet, E-mail, Gopher and other
The requesting of personal information from children under 13 years of age
without parental consent.
Two way and multi-user interactive services, such as bulletin
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Dick Thornburgh & Herbert S. Lin, Ed. "Youth, Pornography, and the
Internet," Committee to Study Tools and Strategies for Protecting Kids
from Pornography and Their Applicability to Other Inappropriate Internet
Content, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research
Council (May 2002).