The National Science Foundation started a competitive bidding process in 1992; subsequently, in 1993, NSF created the Internet Network Information Center, known as InterNIC, to extend and coordinate directory and database services and information services for the NSFNET; and provide registration services for non-military Internet participants. NSF awarded the contract to manage InterNIC to three organizations; Network Solutions provided registration services, AT&T provided directory and database services, and General Atomics provided information services. General Atomics was disqualified from the contract in December 1994 after a review found their services not conforming to the standards of its contract. General Atomics’ InterNIC functions were assumed by AT&T.
Beginning in 1996, Network Solutions rejected domain names containing English language words on a “restricted list” through an automated filter. Applicants whose domain names were rejected received an email containing the notice: “Network Solutions has a right founded in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to refuse to register, and thereby publish, on the Internet registry of domain names words that it deems to be inappropriate.” Domain names such as “shitakemushrooms.com” would be rejected, but the domain name “shit.com” was active since it had been registered before 1996.
Network Solutions eventually allowed domain names containing the words on a case-by-case basis, after manually reviewing the names for obscene intent. This profanity filter was never enforced by the government and its use was not continued by ICANN when it took over governance of the distribution of domain names to the public.