Content Policy
The policies identified in this document will set forth the guidelines for the administration and management of content in the kids.us domain.

We would like to thank every individual and organization that contributed to this document, and for helping make kids.us a reality.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction

  2. kids.us Guidelines and Restrictions

  3. Enforcement Processes and Procedures

 

To download this document in
PDF format, click here.

  1. Introduction
    Background
    More than 140 million Americans, half of our nation, are now online. 90 percent of the children in America between the ages of 5 and 17 now use computers and 65 percent of 10-13 year olds use the Internet today. Usage among even the youngest members of our society is significant, with more than 84 percent of 5-9 year olds using computers at home, school, or both.1 Our nation's youngest citizens are increasingly gaining access to the Internet. How children use the Internet and what they are exposed to while online are topics that have long been examined, discussed, applauded, and criticized. These examples of widespread use of the Internet by children in all aspects of their lives demonstrate the demand for a domain designed for children.

    Interested parties and individuals ranging from parents and educators to communities and members of Congress have all expressed great excitement at the potential benefits of a distinct place on the Internet for our nation's children. To accomplish the goal of establishing a place for children on the Internet, the Dot Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act of 2002, Public Law No. 107-317 (herein referred to as the "kids.us Act"), was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 107th Congress, and with nearly unanimous support was approved by both the House and the U.S. Senate. Enactment of the kids.us Act demonstrates the strong commitment by our nation's leaders to create a rewarding online experience for our nation's youth.

    The role of Neustar in the design and implementation of the kids.us domain
    The kids.us Act "assign[s] to the [National Telecommunications and Information Administration] responsibility for providing for the establishment, and overseeing operation, of a second-level Internet domain within the United States country code domain.2" In October 2001, The United States Department of Commerce ("DOC"), National Institute of Standards and Technology ("NIST") selected Neustar to manage and administer the .us domain name space, the official ccTLD for the United States (Purchase Order No. SB 1335-02-W-0175) (the "Government Contract"). As part of this contract with the DOC, Neustar agreed to reserve a select set of second level domain names to be used to serve the public. Among the reserved names was "kids", which was put aside in order to enable an entity to manage a kids.us domain name space for the benefit of children. In accordance with the kids.us Act, Neustar will act as the Registry operator for all third-level registrations under the kids.us domain and have overall responsibility for managing the name space to ensure appropriateness of content.

    In light of the fact that Neustar will have the primary responsibility for ensuring that content within the kids.us domain is appropriate for children under the age of 13, Neustar has created the role of the kids.us "Content Manager" to oversee this enormous responsibility. The Content Manager may either be Neustar itself or may be an entity, or several entities, approved by both Neustar and the NTIA to perform these functions. The Content Manager will be responsible for reviewing and approving content that is appropriate for the kids.us domain pursuant to these kids.us Content Guidelines and Requirements along with any other rules, restrictions or regulations determined by Neustar and the NTIA.

    To fulfill a requirement under the kids.us Act, Neustar has drafted this policy for content guidelines and requirements based on input from a variety of diverse sources. We attempted to identify the major publicly and legally accepted children's content standards for purposes of application to the kids.us domain. This document reflects the excellent work developed through government and privately-funded research, testimony delivered at Congressional Hearings, articles, books, and some preliminary conversations with members of the children's media communities. Because of the public resource value of the kids.us domain, we have taken great effort to reflect a wide sampling of the information publicly available. Additionally, an initial draft of this document3 was issued for public comment in August of 2002. Neustar would like to thank the individuals and organizations that responded to our request for comments by contributing comments on the design of the domain, suggested content, and restrictions for content.

    Core objectives of kids.us—a domain for children
    The objective of the kids.us domain is to facilitate the establishment of a friendly and enjoyable environment for children using the Internet.

    The kids.us Act states that the kids.us domain is intended to serve "any person under 13 years of age". This benchmark for the kids.us domain is not surprising as it is consistent with other existing legal frameworks in a variety of media, including, for example, the Children's Online Protection Act.

    Specifically, the kids.us domain is designed to restrict access to content that is "harmful to minors", which has been defined by the kids.us Act as:

    • "The average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find, taking the material as a whole and with respect to minors, that it is designed to appeal to, or is designed to pander to, the prurient interest;

    • 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; and

    • Taken as a whole, the material lacks serious, literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors."4

    Further, the kids.us Act also states that the domain should have content that is "suitable for minors", or content that:

    • "Is not psychologically or intellectually inappropriate for minors; and

    • Serves (1) the educational, informational, intellectual, or cognitive needs of minors; or (2) the social, emotional, or entertainment needs of minors."5

      It is important to understand that the kids.us domain is not intended to be a cure-all solution to the many problems and dangers associated with children's use of the Internet. As the National Academies of Sciences ("NAS") concluded in the recently released report "Youth, Pornography, and the Internet," there is no single approach that will, on its own, protect children from online dangers.6 Rather, the kids.us domain is being designed as an alternative on the Internet that children, parents, educators, and children's content providers may elect to use. A domain for children alone cannot address the larger problems associated with children's Internet use. Given the technical and legal limitations that plague any Internet domain, a space dedicated to children can be targeted by bad actors or subject to technical problems. These facts demonstrate that there can be no truly safe place or "haven" for children. To the contrary, a place for children can be effective only if it is accompanied by the many components identified by the NAS in their report, including parental involvement, adult supervision, social and educational support, and publicly available, user-friendly, and cost-effective technology-based tools.

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  2. Kids.us Guidelines and Restrictions
    Content guidelines for the kids.us domain
    The following are the specific content guidelines for determining which content is "suitable for minors" that resolves within a kids.us-approved domain name. Each of these standards are currently used or accepted in a variety of public communications and media forums. Aggregating existing standards and integrating them into the kids.us domain provides a means of defining what is acceptable content in a domain for children, and also acts as a notice to kids.us registrants of some existing standards and laws that are applicable to children online.

    In addition, these content guidelines and restrictions are applicable to all domains within the kids.us domain, whether at the third, fourth or higher level, which is defined herein as any web page that is associated with a domain name ending in kids.us—all pages "behind" the primary URL and all pages associated with domains "to the left" of kids.us. Thus, although domain names with four or more levels (e.g., registry.Neustar.kids.us) are permitted and can be managed at the discretion of the registrant, those pages are considered part of the kids.us domain and are therefore subject to all guidelines, restrictions and policies of the kids.us space.

    Compliance with existing laws, regulations, and relevant voluntary standards
    In addition to the guidelines and requirements contained herein, all content that resides within a kids.us-approved domain must be in compliance with existing laws, widely adopted children's online protection policies, advertising policies, privacy requirements and other policies, restrictions and guidelines approved by Neustar and the NTIA. These include, but are not limited to, the several key legal, regulatory, and voluntary standards listed below that impact multimedia children's content today.

    Compliance with existing rules and regulations regarding indecency on the airwaves
    In light of the public significance of both the usTLD and the kids.us second level domain, the registry operator already reviews, for possible deletion, all registered .us domain names that contain, within the characters of the domain name registration, any of the seven words identified in Federal Communications Commission v. Pacifica Foundation.7 An expanded version of this policy will be extended to the kids.us registrations.

    A commitment to offer some educational and informational content
    Pursuant to the Children's Television Act8 and the FCC's rules implementing this statute,9 broadcasters have a public interest obligation to air a specific number of hours of programming that offers some educational and informational content targeted to children under 13. These rules are consistent with the spirit of the "suitable for minors" clause in the kids.us Act and thus, all registrants within the kids.us domain are encouraged to have some component of educational and informational content for children on their respective domains.

    Compliance with the children's online privacy protection act (COPPA) requirements10
    The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to issue and enforce rules concerning children's online privacy.11 In doing so, the FTC stated its primary goal as placing parents in control over the information that may be collected from their children online. Specifically, the COPPA rules apply to three groups of website operators: operators of commercial websites or online services directed to children under 13 that collect personal information from children; operators of general audience sites that collect personal information from children under 13; and operators of general audience sites that have a separate children's area and that collect personal information from children.

    These three groups of operators are required to perform certain tasks. First, these operators must post a privacy policy, provide notice to parents about the site's information collection practices, and in many instances, obtain parental consent prior to collecting personal information from children. In addition, the operators must provide parents access to their child's information and the opportunity to delete information, they may not condition a child's participation in an activity on the disclosure of more information than is reasonably necessary, and they must maintain the confidentiality, security and integrity of the personal information collected from children.
    As stated above, the kids.us domain must be in strict compliance with existing laws, including of course, the requirements of the COPPA, however, neither Neustar, the DOC nor any Content Manager will be responsible for enforcing these requirements.
    Compliance with children's advertising review unit (CARU) advertising standards
    One example of widely adopted policies relating to advertising includes the efforts of the Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the Better Business Bureau. The CARU reviews and evaluates advertising in all media directed to children under 12. This includes print, broadcast and cable television, radio, video, CD-ROM, 900/976 teleprograms, and interactive electronic media. CARU reviews advertising to determine consistency with its guidelines. If advertising is found to be misleading, inaccurate, or inconsistent with the guidelines, CARU works to achieve voluntary cooperation from the relevant parties to ensure compliance. All kids.us registrants are encouraged to be in compliance with the CARU Guidelines.12

    Restrictions within the kids.us domain
    In addition to the proposed general standards identified above, below is a core list of content restrictions to be followed within the kids.us domain.

    The following information or content is not permitted within the kids.us domain:

    • Mature content
    • Pornography
    • Inappropriate language
    • Violence
    • Hate speech
    • Drugs
    • Alcohol
    • Tobacco
    • Gambling
    • Weapons
    • Criminal activity
      (For more information, please download the Content Policy in PDF format.

    Notwithstanding the list contained above, all content will be reviewed by the Content Manager(s) on the whole prior to being approved for display on a kids.us domain. If such content is deemed by the Content Manager(s) and/or Neustar as having serious educational, informational, intellectual, literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors we believe that exceptions can be made to allow this content to appear in the kids.us domain.

    Technology restrictions
    Because there is no foolproof method for protecting children online at this time, the kids.us Act specifies limitations put on specific technologies commonly used on the Internet today. These technologies are prohibited from use in any kids.us domains:

    • Two-way and multi-user interactive services, which includes: e-mail, chat, instant messaging, Usenet, Message Boards of like user forum, and peer-to-peer connections, place "unless the registrant certifies to the registrar that such service will be offered in compliance with content standards established … and is designed to reduce the risk of exploitation of minors using such two-way and multi-user interactive services"; and
    • Hyperlinks that take a user outside of the kids.us domain.

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  3. Enforcement Processes and Procedures
    Pursuant to the kids.us Act, the registry operator has responsibility for creating "a process for removing from the new domain any content that is not in accordance with the [content] standards and requirements of the registry." This enforcement power, though severe, is not absolute and finite, as the registry is also required to create "a process to provide registrants to the new domain with an opportunity for a prompt, expeditious, and impartial dispute resolution process regarding any material of the registrant excluded from the new domain."13 The purpose of providing this enforcement power to the registry operator is to strengthen a core objective of the kids.us Act, which is both to create an online arena that is free from material that is harmful to minors and to ensure that the kids.us domain remains safe from such harmful material.

    At the time of initial content review, all potential websites must completely abide by the kids.us Content Guidelines and Restrictions before any content may reside within the kids.us domain. Once content is available, the Registry can be made aware of any true or alleged content infractions from the Content Manager or through feedback received directly from the Internet community14. On an on-going basis, the Registry will follow a defined process for removing appropriate content from the kids.us domain. This process is designed to balance the needs of maintaining a stable domain space as well as ensuring a timely and expeditious means for registrants to resolve any true or alleged content infractions.

    In order to aid the registry operator in its enforcement, these content restrictions have been assigned a "severity level" that will guide the registry in addressing content violations. Because the registry does not have direct access to the content within a website, actions by the registry are limited to removing a domain name from the authoritative database, thereby blocking the site in its entirety15. Although complete removal of a domain name may appear to be an extreme course of action in some instances, the objective of protecting children is paramount and must be the guiding factor in the enforcement process.

    Content Restrictions are broken into three categories:
    Level 1 Level 2 Level 3
    Mature content Hate speech Hyperlinks to acceptable content
    Pornography Drugs  
    Inappropriate language Weapons  
    Violence Hyperlinks to Level 2 or Level 3 content  
    Hyperlinks to Level 1 content Gambling  
    Interactive or mult-user communication Alcohol  
    Criminal activity Tobacco  

    When the Registry is actually notified of an alleged violation, each site will be reviewed within a reasonable time period and categorized pursuant to the table above. If the Content Manager and/or the registry operator determines that a violation has occurred, the following actions will be taken for each of the categories:

    Level 1—Registry will immediately remove the domain name from the Zone file, contact the Registrar and Registrant and provide them notification of removal. The registrant will be required to repeat the content review process before the name can be re-established in the zone.

    Level 2—Registry will notify the Registrar and Registrant of the infraction and provide 4 hours for the error to be modified. The registrant will be subject to an additional review.

    Level 3—Registry will notify the Registrar or Registrant of the infraction and provide 12 hours for the error to be modified.

    Registrants found in violation of the content standards desiring to be reinstated within the kids.us domain will be subject to a new review and re-activation fee each time a domain name is removed from the zone file and then re-entered. This fee is designed to recover the operational expense associated with manual removal and insertion into the Registry zone file, the additional content reviews, and other administrative expenses.

    Registrants found repeatedly violating the content policy may be subject to permanent loss of their domain name, at the sole discretion of the registry.

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