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Abstract

The Internet, which links millions of computer networks together worldwide for the purpose of automated communication, is the forefront of communications technology. An Internet domain name, which functions as a computer user's "address" on the Internet, not only identifies individuals and organizations, but is an important commercial source designator for businesses. The Internet Network Information Center ("InterNIC") is a central resource center for Internet users that operates the Internet Domain Name System ("DNS"). InterNIC, which comprises NSI and AT&T, performs various Internet services, including NSI's Internet domain name coordination and registration. Along with the positive effects that the Internet has on businesses and consumers, conversely, a host of negative effects exist. For example, the current top-level domain name system ("TLD") which is governed by NSI's Policy Statement consistently fails to afford Internet domain name owners Fifth Amendment procedural due process as guaranteed by the Constitution. This Comment focuses on four areas of NSI's domain name registration system and Policy Statement. First, this Comment reviews Internet domain name structure, governance, registration, and disputes between trademark owners, domain name owners, and NSI. Second, this Comment analyzes the constitutional ramifications that NSI's present Policy Statement has on domain name owners. The first constitutional question addresses whether NSI is a federal-state actor which is subject to Fifth Amendment procedural due process requirements. The second constitutional question addresses whether NSI's Policy Statement affords a domain name owner Fifth Amendment procedural due process guaranteed under the Constitution. Last, this Comment offers a proposal and recommendation which will enable NSI's Policy Statement to afford Fifth Amendment procedural due process to a domain name owner.

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