The government has enacted new regulations to govern the activities of the Spanish authority responsible for assigning domain names. Specifically, Act 14/2000 on Fiscal, Administrative and Social Measures modifies Act 11/1998 on General Telecommunications.

Until now, ES-NIC was in charge of granting assignments to use the top-level domain '.es'. However, it is arguable whether ES-NIC ever had the power to do so as no legislation actually grants it this authority. Act 14/2000 has put an end to this controversy by replacing ES-NIC with a new authority that is specifically empowered to assign the country's top-level domain. The new authority is called is attached to the Ministry of Science and Technology but has its own legal personality. Consequently, the new authority has the power to make decisions without the ministry's approval. Although it is organized as a public corporation, is subject to the rules of private company law such as the rules on mergers, acquisitions and trading in private shares.

The new authority's activities are governed by various rules, including the following:

  • Additional Provision 6 of Act 11/1998 on General Telecommunications;

  • its own company statutes; and

  • Act 6/1997 on the Organization of the State Administration. has the following functions, among others:

  • to assign the use of the country's top-level domain, '.es';

  • to participate with other institutions that manage the registration of domain names under the authority of ICANN (the Internet Corporation for the Assignment of Names and Numbers); and

  • to advise the Ministry of Science and Technology in relation to ICANN proceedings, and the Organization of the State Administration with respect to EU matters.

Companies that are assigned top-level domains must pay an annual fee to, regardless of whether the domain name is actually used. The fee is Pta18,000 (€108.18) for the first year and Pta12,000 (€72.12) for each additional year. The initial fee must be paid on the date the domain name is assigned, and then every year it is renewed. Also, Act 14/2000 provides that the initial fee may be increased at the discretion of if a particular web site is used much more than is normal.

For further information on this topic please contact Gonzalo de Ulloa or Jose Carlos Erdozain at Gómez-Acebo & Pombo by telephone (+34 91 582 9100) or by fax (+34 91 582 92 82) or by e-mail ([email protected] or [email protected]).

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