What is a domain name?
A domain name is a unique word or phrase in a particular format that allows people to find information on the Internet. Domain names are part of the domain name system (DNS), a naming system for anything participating in the Internet (like a company, organization, product, service or individual). It translates domain names meaningful to humans into the numbers used by servers and other machines to locate these participants anywhere in the world. For example, www.public.health (for humans) translates to 188.8.131.52 (for machines).
What is a top-level domain?
A Top Level Domain, or ‘TLD’, is the group of letters that follow the final dot of any domain name. For example, in the domain name www.public.health, the top-level domain is ‘health’.
Who operates a TLD?
Management of most TLDs is delegated to entities called ‘registries’ by The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is a not-for-profit organization that runs the community-driven processes that keep the Internet secure, stable and interoperable, including the development of policy for the domain name system (DNS). DotHealth, LLC has applied to ICANN to act as the registry for the .health TLD.
What ICANN requirements must be met to become a TLD Registry?
Any established public or private organization anywhere in the world could have applied to ICANN to operate a new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) registry through the New gTLD Program. The deadline for submitting applications closed in May 2012. To be approved to operate a registry, the applicant needs to demonstrate the operational, technical and financial capability to run a registry and must comply with additional specific requirements. Please refer to ICANN’s Applicant Guidebook for detailed information about the application process.
Who is behind DotHealth, LLC?
DotHealth, LLC is backed by Neustar, Inc. (NYSE: NSR), the world’s leading provider of telecommunications and back-end TLD registry infrastructure services, and Straat Investments, a strategic private equity firm which funded the successful launch of the .co ccTLD and which is one of the fastest growing TLDs in history.
As DotHealth’s back-end registry services provider for the .health gTLD, Neustar is a leading voice on Internet best practices and registry operations consistent with public health interests. Neustar is a founding member of The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP), a non-profit organization chartered in 2011 to address the growing problem Internet sales of illegitimate pharmaceutical products. Neustar serves as Treasurer of CSIP's Board of Directors, which also includes the world’s leading Internet and e-commerce companies, domain name registrars, search engines and financial services providers.
DotHealth, LLC is also exclusively partnered with LegitScript, the world's leading provider of online pharmacy fraud intelligence, monitoring and enforcement services in support of Google, Amazon, Yahoo, and numerous other leading online service providers, major search engines and online networks.
How is DotHealth, LLC different from the other applicants that have applied to ICANN for .health?
-DotHealth, LLC has constructed its policies with the goal of building a gTLD that benefits the public and private health areas: Our strategy for developing and advancing .health, as a credible, safe and trusted site for health information is the cornerstone of our approach to the management of the .health gTLD.
-We Are Health People Who Understand the Needs of Public Health: Unlike any other .health applicant, DotHealth, LLC’s leaders and advisors have broad experience in the global health, life sciences and information services sectors, including work with regulators, patient groups, drug and device companies, doctor and nursing organizations, health plans, standards bodies, and professional medical societies. We utilized our deep knowledge and comprehensive understanding of the needs and challenges of public health in order to prepare and orchestrate a policy, governance framework and model for .health that balances and addresses the diverse needs of its worldwide stakeholders.
-We Are the Only Applicant That Has Secured Global Public Health and Health Industry Support: DotHealth, LLC is the only applicant that has secured affirmations of policy support and established cooperation with some of the largest, credible and trusted public health and health sciences industry organizations throughout the world. These organizations include the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), the Inter-American College of Physicians and Surgeons, World Federation of Chiropractic and numerous other international health organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGO). Collectively, these partners already cooperate extensively with multi-national governments, law enforcement agencies and taskforces on health information security initiatives, intellectual property and rights protection, identity theft, and the battle against online pharmacy crime.
-We Are 100% Focused on .health: Many gTLD applicants have applied for a “portfolio” of gTLDs as part of an investment strategy for which one gTLD opportunity may be prioritized over others pending the outcomes of the ICANN process. Unlike the other applicants for .health, DotHealth, LLC is the only applicant to ICANN that is exclusively and solely focused on .health. We have not applied for multiple Top Level Domains or gTLDs as part of a wider Registry operator portfolio business (e.g., .health + .app + .shop + .movie + .music + ….). As such, our objectives are totally centered on one mission and goal: To achieve ICANN delegation for .health and to launch .health as a trusted online namespace for health stakeholders.
How will DotHealth, LLC keep .health safe?
In active coordination with Neustar and LegitScript, DotHealth will actively enforce compliance with its established Acceptable Use Policy and Abuse Mitigation Procedures, which have been specifically developed in the interest of the protection and security of public health stakeholders, and with consensus from leading public health organizations in conjunction with ICANN requirements.
As part of its governance and enforcement efforts, DotHealth will be aided by its partnership with LegitScript to vigilantly monitor the entire .health namespace for the illicit promotion or sale of prescription drugs, controlled substances, tainted dietary supplements, ingredients for psychoactive highs, and others which are have been validated by regulatory authorities as safety concerns. These procedures give DotHealth the ability to quickly lock, cancel, transfer or take ownership of any .health domain name, either temporarily or permanently, if the domain name is being used in a manner that appears to threaten the stability, integrity or security of the Registry, or any of its registrar partners – and/or that may put the safety and security of any registrant or user at risk. They also allow the .health registry to take preventive measures to avoid any such criminal or security threats which may be triggered through a variety of channels, including, among other things, private complaint, public alert, government or enforcement agency outreach, and the ongoing monitoring by the Registry or its partners. In all cases, the Registry or its designees will alert Registry’s registrar partners about any identified threats, and will work closely with them to bring offending sites into compliance.
The DotHealth, LLC Acceptable Use Policy expressly prohibits the following activities:
- Phishing: the attempt to acquire personally identifiable information by masquerading as a website other than .health.
- Pharming: the redirection of Internet users to websites other than those the user intends to visit, usually through unauthorized changes to the Hosts file on a victim’s computer or DNS records in DNS servers.
- Dissemination of Malware: the intentional creation and distribution of "malicious" software designed to infiltrate a computer system without the owner’s consent, including, without limitation, computer viruses, worms, key loggers, and Trojans.
- Fast Flux Hosting: a technique used to shelter Phishing, Pharming and Malware sites and networks from detection and to frustrate methods employed to defend against such practices, whereby the IP address associated with fraudulent websites are changed rapidly so as to make the true location of the sites difficult to find.
- Botnetting: the development and use of a command, agent, motor, service, or software which is implemented: (1) to remotely control the computer or computer system of an Internet user without their knowledge or consent, (2) to generate direct denial of service (DDOS) attacks.
- Malicious Hacking: the attempt to gain unauthorized access (or exceed the level of authorized access) to a computer, information system, user account or profile, database, or security system.
- Child Pornography: the storage, publication, display and/or dissemination of pornographic materials depicting individuals under the age of majority in the relevant jurisdiction.
- Illicit Promotion or Sale of Harmful Substances: the illicit promotion or sale of prescription drugs, controlled substances, tainted dietary supplements, ingredients for psychoactive highs, and others which are have been validated by regulatory authorities as safety concerns.
The Registry reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any administrative and operational actions necessary, including the use of computer forensics and information security technological services, among other things, in order to implement the Acceptable Use Policy.
In addition, DotHealth, LLC intends to deny, cancel or transfer any registration or transaction, or place any domain name(s) on registry lock, hold or similar status, that it deems necessary, in its discretion; (1) to protect the integrity and stability of the registry; (2) to comply with any applicable laws, government rules or requirements, requests of law enforcement, or any dispute resolution process; (3) to avoid any liability, civil or criminal, on the part of Registry as well as its affiliates, subsidiaries, officers, directors, and employees; (4) per the terms of the registration agreement or (5) to correct mistakes made by the Registry or any Registrar in connection with a domain name registration. Registry also reserves the right to place upon registry lock, hold or similar status a domain name during resolution of a dispute.
What do leading public health organizations think about the .health top-level domain?
DotHealth, LLC has received affirmations of support from numerous leading public health and healthcare industry organizations throughout the world, including the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), the Inter-American College of Physicians and Surgeons and the World Federation of Chiropractic (an NGO of the World Health Organization). For over a decade, leading public health organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) have contemplated the scope, risks and benefits of the .health TLD.
Recently, several public health organizations and have expressed concerns to ICANN about the .health TLD and other proposed TLDs, seeking “adequate assurances that they will be operated in the interest of global public health.” These have been primarily focused on the potential for fraudulent activity – including fake health provider websites, illegal online pharmacies, abuses of trademarks and intellectual property, and identity theft.
In sharing and acknowledging these concerns, we have proposed a profoundly rigorous set of standards that all registrants and users of .health names must adhere to, as well as an unprecedented governance model that has specifically and appropriately structured to address these concerns as the prospective registry operator for .health. We have assembled collaboration from the world’s leading technology and fraud intelligence providers who already extensively cooperate with global taskforces, law enforcement, government agencies, and others in the interest of global public health.
Although some of the concerns that have been raised extend beyond the roles and responsibilities of a TLD registry operator to fully enforce, we are very open to having further discussions with leading global health stakeholders such as the WHO with the goal of working together to address them moving forward and view .health as a logical platform to do so.
What are the challenges to ensure consumers can trust content on .health domains?
Providing more and better information about health may help empower individuals, but it is a challenge to ensure that online health information is of high quality and can be trusted. Not only is there an ever increasing amount of information available, some of which may be inaccurate and out of date, it can also be difficult to identify the source of website content and if there is a link to commercial activity.
The consequences of poor quality information can be serious, as it may lead to needless worry, unnecessary consultations, over-use of health services and/or a delay in appropriate diagnosis. In some circumstances, online health information may also lead to false hope, unnecessary costs and be directly harmful to health due to recommendations for unproven, ineffective, or even deliberately bogus tests and treatments.
Over the past several decades, there have been several diversified attempts made by government agencies, public health organizations, health industry regulators, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others throughout the global public health community to establish a series of standards, best practices and codes of ethics to encourage the dissemination of quality health information for patients and professionals and the general public.
Although each of these standards and recommended best practices share common goals and objectives for ensuring health information quality, there is no agreement on what criteria should be used to define what “quality” health information actually means. In practice the guidelines vary significantly and even some of the most well-respected and prominent government agencies, public health organizations and non-governmental organizations have, for example, stated in their policies and disclaimers that they:
- “Cannot guarantee the accuracy of medical information presented by a site and its completeness at any given time (Health-on-the-Net Foundation / HON Code)
- “Have no official role in policing the quality of health information found on the Internet (The National Institutes of Health)
- “Healthfinder.gov does not control the content of the Internet sites or organizations listed” (United States Department of Health and Human Services / Healthfinder.gov Quality Guidelines).
In fact, in a December 2011 published report from the WHO, “Safety and Security on the Internet: Challenges and advances in Member States,” the following excerpt (on page 64) perhaps summarizes the complexities associated with establishing a global standard for online information quality:
“The most holistic and ambitious plan proposed to date is the creation of the dot health (.health) TLD. Development of a dot health TLD as a recognizable label for quality health-related information sources on the Internet would raise awareness of health information quality issues. It would overcome a serious shortcoming of existing codes of conduct by enabling codes to be enforced; however, it would not regulate, restrict or censure health content on the Internet.”
At DotHealth, LLC, we believe that elevating the quality of online health information requires more than voluntary participation among those that publish and disseminate such information. Furthermore, we believe that the .health TLD uniquely provides a powerful platform to foster global consensus on what information quality actually means. We are aligned with the WHO that the .health TLD has potential to raise awareness of health information quality issues. We expect to collaborate closely with the public health community to advance the consensus-building process toward defining and developing a global standard for information quality, and believe that the .health TLD represents a logical framework for its eventual adoption.
As the public health community develops and achieves formal consensus on the criteria utilized for health information quality, DotHealth has proposed policies and procedures aimed at ensuring consumer trust in health information available through the .health TLD. This includes establishing precautions for eradicating behaviors which threaten online consumers and other stakeholders, often perpetuated by bad actors. Building trust will take time, and if not properly managed, it can be threatened. As a matter of governance across the entire .health TLD: BAD ACTORS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED...EVER!
Who will be eligible to register a .health domain name?
DotHealth, LLC envisions that the .health TLD will serve the broad and diverse goals, needs and interests of patients and consumers, healthcare professionals and caregivers, organizations and businesses (public and private), trade and professional associations, as well as governmental and non-governmental agencies who are significant participants in the ecosystem of public health.
What types of .health domain names can be registered?
.health domain names will be available for registration and/or allocation to prospective registrants and are subject to various types of restrictions and compliance with DotHealth registry policies (see below). In addition, ICANN has recently issued updated requirements for TLD registry operators to "block" certain names from being registered at the 2nd level.
Reserved or Restricted .health names
To ensure the trusted allocation and meaningful use of the .health TLD in support of public health interests, DotHealth, LLC will set aside a subset of carefully selected names for which the applicant must meet specific criteria. Numerous .health names at the 2nd level will be subject to a Request for Information (RFI) process to ensure public health is promoted, and to help promote awareness, usage and uptake of the .health gTLD.
DotHealth, LLC believes that in countries and territories and cities throughout the world, health authorities will value the .health TLD as an appropriate resource that can be used to inform their respective citizens and other stakeholders about public health policies and strategies. Geographic names (for example, “France.health or FR.health), will only be released by DotHealth, LLC to the authorized Public Health Authority in the jurisdiction for their use. For more information, please refer to DotHealth’s established policies and procedures for Geographic Names Protection.
Rights-protected .health names
ICANN has established the Trademark Clearinghouse as a central repository for rights-protected names. All new gTLDs must utilize the Trademark Clearinghouse. Rightsholders will be encouraged to enter their marks into the Trademark Clearinghouse in order to be eligible for such protections and services. For clarity, the following criteria as established by the Trademark Clearinghouse for rights-protected names:
- Nationally or regionally registered word marks from all jurisdictions.
- Any word mark that has been validated through a court of law or other judicial proceeding.
- Any word mark protected by a statute or treaty in effect at the time the mark is submitted to the Trademark Clearinghouse for inclusion.
- Other marks that constitute intellectual property.
Standard .health names
Any other name that does not fall in the above categories, and which does not violate any other registry policies.
What process will be used by DotHealth LLC to allocate these names?
For Reserved or Restricted .health names, DotHealth, LLC plans to utilize multiple processes including a Request for Information (RFI) process to ensure the trusted allocation and meaningful use of special names among registrants and end-users, and to help promote awareness, usage and uptake of the .health gTLD. We intend to cooperate closely with numerous public health organizations and others to further refine our approaches in conjunction with ongoing harmonized standards for health information quality.
Names that identify disease states, health conditions (e.g. “ADHD.health”), health or wellness actions (e.g., "QuitSmoking.health"), medical specialties, as well as other generic, non-trademarked or rights-protected terms are among the categories of .health names that will be reserved. Additionally, single character or two character names shall also be reserved. More information about DotHealth, LLC’s proposed RFI Process for Reserved Names and associated criteria can be downloaded here. Public health organizations and others who may be interested in establishing formal cooperation with DotHealth, LLC on its RFI Process should feel free to contact Andy Weissberg at email@example.com.
Key process considerations:
(1) For Rights-protected .health names, DotHealth, LLC will interface directly with the Trademark Clearinghouse and cooperate with ICANN-authorized providers (Deloitte, IBM) to provide this service during the initial “Sunrise” and “Landrush” periods as well as on an ongoing basis as part of Trademark Claims services available through DotHealth, LLC.
(2) For Standard .health names, these names will be available on a “first-come, first-served basis” after the Sunrise and Landrush periods and can be registered through any accredited domain name registrars with established agreements with DotHealth, LLC. For clarity, the term “first-come, first-served” refers to a process defined by ICANN which serves as an alternative mechanism to an auction for registries to resolve multiple registration requests for the same domain name in conjunction with registrars.
(Updated December 2013)