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    Country-Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) dotcx says 'ICANN Threatens the Stability of the Internet'
    posted by michael on Monday July 02 2001, @05:52PM

    Dot cx Ltd, the de facto Christmas Island registry and registrar, has sent an urgent letter to ICANN Vice-President, Secretary & General Counsel Louis Touton, who appears to be running "IANA", demanding an immediate change to the nameservers and the contact information for the .cx ccTLD. The current nameservers for .cx will become inactive today, July 3, 2001; by persisting in its refusal to change them, says .cx, "ICANN threatens the stability of the Internet". This is only the latest act in year-long drama, memorialized in a series of letters. The current sticking point: ICANN wants the "local government" (actually, the Australian government) to sign off. And it's imposing conditions on the ccTLD before it will agree.

    .cx was originally delegated to a now-defunct company that signed an MOU with Dot cx Ltd. Local bodies in the Christmas Islands approved of the takeover, but "IANA" balked, saying that it would not OK the change until and unless the local government -- effectively the distant Australian government -- agreed (ICANN also wants the defunct company to give its approval -- something which may be difficult since it no longer exists). Meanwhile, however, the Australian government appears to have an agenda of its own: get control over all the ccTLDs it can.



    The fate of the Christmas Islands ccTLD is caught up in heady political currents: Christmas Island is a Dependency of Australia, administered from Canberra by the Australian Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories. Much of .cx's difficulty with IANA may be linked to the Australian government's desire to bring the .au ccTLD to heel. But the conditions being imposed by the Australians seem pretty stiff: "we reserve the power to terminate you at any time" is about the size of it. (My favorite, though is this one: "This letter of endorsement cannot be relied upon by Dot CX as an enforceable agreement.") You can read them for yourself in these four large .jpg images of the Australian government's latest letter: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4.

    Where ICANN (aka IANA) gets the requirement that the local government sign off on an uncontested, friendly, transfer of a ccTLD is an interesting question. The requirement does not appear in RFC 1591. IANA's CCTLD News Memo #1 (23 October 1997) does say,

    An additional factor has become very important since RFC 1591 was written: the desires of the government of the country. The IANA takes the desires of the government of the country very seriously, and will take them as a major consideration in any transition discussion.
    ...but this is not a IETF standards document (neither, technically is RFC 1591, which is labeled "informational"). Further, nothing on the subject of the government's role is mentioned in ICP-1, the document that ICANN issued purporting to describe but not change IANA practices under RFC 1591.

    It doesn't seem unreasonable to me for the government to have a say in the redelegation of a ccTLD when there is some sort of controversy. As an abstract matter, I'm even prepared to accept that a government has full sovereign legislative power to subject a ccTLD registry located in its territory to any rule it can lawfully adopt (recall that ccTLDs must have a local presence). So it seems reasonable to me for ICANN to pay close attention to what local governments say in cases of contested redelegations, if only because they have the ultimate power to force their wishes on a ccTLD anyway. But this is different. It's not a contested case, there are no other claimants, there is no suggestion of mismanaging the domain or unsuitability to task. In the absence of any suggestion of wrongdoing, should ICANN be a party to the imposition of onerous conditions on a ccTLD, or should it leave that job to the domestic authorities who, in this case at least, might have to do it in a more public and democratic manner?

    Last but not least is the question of process. This matter has been running for more than a year. Where are the public notices from IANA? What are the relevant procedures? Who is in charge of this issue: the Vice-President, Secretary & General Counsel? The ICANN CEO? Certainly not the Board.

    Surely this case argues, yet again, for far more openness and transparency about what "IANA" is doing and how it does it.

     
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      Related Links  
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  • Page 1
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  • Page 4
  • RFC 1591
  • CCTLD News Memo #1 (23 October 1997)
  • ICP-1
  • Dot cx Ltd
  • an urgent letter to ICANN Vice-President, Secretary & General Counsel Louis Touton
  • IANA
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  •  
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    dotcx says 'ICANN Threatens the Stability of the Internet' | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 10 comments | Search Discussion
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    Re: dotcx says 'ICANN Threatens the Stability of t
    by rforno (rforno@infowarrior.org) on Tuesday July 03 2001, @03:06AM (#1056)
    User #2832 Info | www.infowarrior.org
    Let's see - ICANN dragging its feet on a requested action by a member of the Internet community....that's not surprising seeing how they've handled nearly everything else to date... most notably how they've handled/considered/deployed new TLDs. This is sort of surprising from an entity very much pro-business and anti-consumer.

    I wonder how quickly ICANN would act if it was a VRSN or .US registry that asked for a similar update. You can prolly bet that would happen faster than DoC approved their latest shenangigans last month.

    On a side note - we're already seeing Australia becoming a mini Internet censorship/surveillance state, so Michael is correct, they do have their own "agenda" so to speak.

    On a side note, who could .CX appeal to? DoC? I'm still on my first cup of coffee and haven't reasearched it, but what accountability/grievance process is there for folks like .CX to go to, besides the court of world public opinion via the media?

    While competition in the namespace is has in many areas improved the level of service quality of (now) multiple Registrars, ICANN is a legacy brainchild experiment from the Clinton Administration - an Administration that had zero clue about how the net -really- worked. Like so many other Clintonian projects, this one is riddled with problems, conflicts, nebulous charters, back-room dealings, ethical black holes, and truly epitomizes everything about how the previous Administraton worked. One only hopes ICANN doesn't have interns on staff.

    ICANN reminds me of the damn-the-torpedoes and to-hell-with-the-consequences Slim Pickens riding the nuke, waving his hat and shouting "yee haah!" all the way to impact in the movie Dr Strangelove. I don't envy the few voices of reason on the ICANN Board - they're on the bridge of the proberbial Titanic and can do little but hope their efforts from (as minority members on the board) can turn the ship quickly enough to avoid the iceberg.....
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
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    Re: dotcx says 'ICANN Threatens the Stability of t
    by Hendrik on Tuesday July 03 2001, @11:02AM (#1070)
    User #2856 Info
    I have been amazed how long it took (multiple years) for Jon Postel acting as IANA to withdraw the .pn (Pitcairn Islands) authority delegation and assign them to another. What I learned from the official documents that were gradually appearing on the web at that time was a far more complex issue than it looked on first sight.

    What I learned also from the .bz discussion is that authority delegation and changes of the ccTLD delegation are not the easy decisions (even already long before ICANN appeared).

    I am not able to judge all the subtleties of .cx from a limited set of posts. The main request is thus. Who keeps a file of all documents circulating around this issue on the Internet and not only the ones that fit his/her political point of view and interests?

    Secondly: using the words stability of the Internet is threatened is surprising to me. Are their some bills not paid for maintaining the existing .cx root server into the air? Are there whois-registries that will be destroyed today?

    I am just pragmatic. As long as .cx is still working and people can reach their correct e-mail address or website under .cx the stability of the Internet is not threatened by the astonishing set of lawyer pains that seemed to slow down every change of ccTLD authority delegation since circa 1996.

    Hendrik
    --
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
      Re: dotcx says 'ICANN Threatens the Stability of t
      by Hendrik on Monday July 23 2001, @09:55AM (#1452)
      User #2856 Info
      http://www.nic.cx/cx.home.html

      Clearly a law experts way of handling things, not quite the behaviour of a technician or a business oriented person.
      It smells just like how governments handle these things. Avoid a breakdown (which may bring you into legal problems) but maintain your formal position.

      I just make the above remark about governments, to make clear that any legal or political intervention would not solve this type of procedural behaviour. Civil servants operate in the same way. Maybe Micheal is able to shed some more light on how to avoid this "legal precaution" that slows decision making down tremenduously.

      Hendrik
      [ Reply to This | Parent ]
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