Overview - My Request and NSF's Response

On November 16, 1997, I made a request to the National Science Foundation (NSF) under the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 USC 552a) and NSF's own regulations implementing the Act (45 CFR 613).

I requested that NSF disclose to me whether or not my name appears in the system of records informally known as "the Domain Name database" operated by the NSF. through its contractor, Network Solutions, Incorporated, under cooperative agreement No. NCR-9218742.

On December 24, 1997 the NSF responded. Their letter did not answer my request, but, rather, stated that it is NSF's position that the Domain Name database is not subject to the Privacy Act of 1974.

I very much disagree with the arguments which they presented to reach their conclusion.

I will analyze their response in the attached Analysis of NSF's Response .

In the process of reaching their conclusion, NSF made various legal statements regarding its relationship to the collection of information forming the Domain Name System. I will discuss the implications of their statements in the attached Implications of NSF's Position

The statements made in NSF's response should be considered as authoritative statements of NSF's positions.

If NSF were to change its positions, it would invalidate the legal argument on which it reached its decision to reject my request. These kinds of situations invoke the legal doctrine of "estoppel".

The legal notion behind estoppel is that if one makes a statement or logical argument in one situation, one is denied the opportunity to take advantage of subsequently substantially changing those statements or logical argument in another related situation.

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Updated: January 20, 1998