IANA Report on Redelegation of the .ke Top-Level Domain
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (the IANA), as part of the administrative functions associated with management of the domain-name system root, is responsible for receiving requests for delegation and redelegation of top-level domains, investigating the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and reporting on the requests. In June 2002, the IANA received a request for the redelegation of the .ke (Kenya) country-code top-level domain (ccTLD). This report gives the findings and conclusions of the IANA on its investigation of that request.
The .ke ccTLD registry was first delegated by the IANA in April 1993 to Dr. Shem J. Ochuodho, Kenya, as administrative contact, and Mr. Randy Bush, United States, as technical contact. At that time and today, that two-letter code was and is set forth on the ISO 3166-1 list maintained by the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency as the approved alpha-2 code for Kenya.
Since the initial delegation, Dr. Ochuodho has served in a voluntary capacity as the administrative contact for the .ke ccTLD. Likewise, from 1993 to the present, Mr. Bush has generously donated his time and energy to serve as technical contact and provided a free domain-name-registration mechanism and associated DNS services for the .ke registry.
In May 2000, a group of Kenyan Internet stakeholders launched an initiative to form a participatory, community-based non-profit organization located in Kenya to manage both the administrative and technical aspects of the .ke ccTLD registry. Since October 2001, there have been broad-based consultations and research led by the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), with the participation of stakeholders including the Telecommunications Service Providers Association of Kenya (TESPOK), the East Africa Internet Association (EAIA), Kenya Information Society (KIS), Kenya Education Network (KENET), the Computer Society of Kenya, the Institute of Computer Science, the Kenya Health Information Network, the Network Operators Association, Telkom Kenya, the Kenyan government's Directorate of Information Technology Services, and the National Task Force on Electronic Commerce (NTF-ecom).
The result of these consultations was the Kenya Network Information Center, Limited (KENIC), organized under Kenyan law as a company limited by guarantee (a not-for-profit entity). In addition to performing the technical, administrative, and policy-setting functions for the .ke registry, a stated objective of KENIC is to "promote, manage and operate the delegated .ke ccTLD in the interest of the Kenyan Internet community and being mindful of the global Internet community interest in consistent with ICANN policies."
Through the KENIC website, open mailing lists, Steering Committee and other organizational meetings, and public forums, the KENIC organizers undertook to develop technical and administrative plans, and to take input from and build support within the Kenyan Internet community. By mid-2002, the KENIC organizers has completed KENIC's Memorandum & Articles of Association, and prepared and circulated for review and comment a draft annual budget for registry operations and a draft set of registration and administrative policies. Through the Computer Society of Kenya, an open membership organization, the organizers undertook a public awareness campaign aimed at increasing the involvement of individual and organizational Internet users in KENIC.
To get off the ground, KENIC has relied upon contributions from its various members and supporters. For example, the member Internet service providers of TESPOK pledged to contribute engineering talent to establish KENIC's technical operations, and to provide a dedicated link between KENIC and the Kenyan Internet Exchange Point (KIXP). The Computer Society of Kenya pledged to pursue some donations of hardware from its members. Telkom Kenya committed to supply two independent upstream links to the global Internet. And the Communications Commission of Kenya pledged an initial allocation of 10 million Kenyan shillings (approximately US $110,000) to fund the start-up of KENIC.
According to the organizers, one of the motivations for the KENIC process was a growing dissatisfaction in the Kenyan Internet community with the unresponsiveness of the current administrative contact, Dr. Ochuodho, to the needs of the local Internet community. The KENIC organizers have sought to involve Dr. Ochuodho in the community-based consultation process, repeatedly stressing their belief that Dr. Ochuodho deserves much credit for his dedicated and selfless labor to bring Internet connectivity and services to Kenya, and to establish the .ke ccTLD registry. However, by the late 1990s Dr. Ochuodho's commitments and demands on his time had increased, seemingly limiting his ability to administer the .ke ccTLD in a manner that fulfills the growing needs of the Kenyan Internet community. Among his increase in responsibilities were heading up the African Regional Centre for Computing (ARCC) and serving as a member of Kenya's national parliament. For these understandable reasons, as he himself has noted in conversation with IANA representatives, Dr. Ochuodho ceased to be as active and accessible a participant in Kenya's rapidly expanding Internet community as would be expected of a ccTLD delegee under these circumstances.
Above all, the organizers of KENIC expressed frustration that Dr. Ochuodho had failed to engage in dialogue with the Kenyan Internet community about any aspect of the .ke ccTLD. Through the KENIC process, the KENIC organizers regularly and repeatedly invited Dr. Ochuodho to participate in their initiative. He was invited to make a presentation or otherwise take part in organizational meetings of the Steering Committee, to observe or speak at KENIC's open community forums, to communicate his concerns or suggestions via e-mail, and to join the board of directors of KENIC. Dr. Ochuodho declined to respond to these invitations, and did not attend any of KENIC's organizational meetings or open community forums. The KENIC organizers regularly sent Dr. Ochuodho updates on their activities and minutes of meetings and included him on their mailing lists, in the hope that he might choose to participate or otherwise engage in dialogue toward the creation of a stable institutional home in Kenya for the .ke registry.
On 9 June 2002, KENIC representatives contacted the IANA to formally request redelegation of the .ke ccTLD from the current administrative contact to KENIC. That same day, the IANA forwarded the KENIC request to Dr. Ochuodho, as the current administrative contact, for his review and comment. On 10 July 2002, Dr. Ochuodho responded to the IANA that his host ISP, ARCC, was hoping to upgrade its servers over the coming several months, in order to assume responsibility for the .ke technical functions. He further stated that "[n]o ISP or KENIC has drawn our attention to any substantial problems with current arrangement."
In view of Dr. Ochuodho's apparent failure to respond to or undertake any discussions with the KENIC organizers on their dissatisfactions and proposals, the IANA sought to promote dialog among the parties. After several inquiries by the IANA, Dr. Ochuodho met with IANA representatives (the President, Vice President, and Counsel for International Legal Affairs of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)) at the East Africa Internet Forum, held in Nairobi on 7 August 2002.
At that meeting, Dr. Ochuodho acknowledged that he had been less than responsive to the Kenyan Internet community over the previous several years, but noted that he had been kept extremely busy by his other important responsibilities, especially as a member of the Kenyan parliament. In response to the KENIC redelegation request, Dr. Ochuodho expressed his concerns with the KENIC process and organization, including his feeling that the redelegation was politically motivated.
In response, the IANA representatives pointed out that a ccTLD administrative contact serves as a trustee on behalf of, and in service to, the local Internet community. As trustee, the administrative contact must act fairly and in the best interests of the entire local Internet community, be responsive to the members of that community, and engage in dialogue about issues relating to the ccTLD.
Dr. Ochuodho stated that he accepted these responsibilities, and agreed to undertake direct dialogue with the KENIC organizers in an effort to resolve his concerns and to attempt to reach a mutually acceptable set of management arrangements for the .ke ccTLD. In any event, Dr. Ochuodho agreed to report to the IANA on the results of those discussions within 30 days. At the face-to-face meeting, Dr. Ochuodho agreed that within 30 days, he would either: (a) work out a solution with KENIC on the management of the .ke ccTLD; (b) demonstrate significant support within the Kenyan Internet community for administration of the .ke ccTLD by him rather than KENIC; or (c) agree to the redelegation of the .ke ccTLD.
The IANA sent a follow-up e-mail to Dr. Ochuodho reiterating these commitments and noting that in the event that neither (a) or (b) occurred within the set 30 days, the IANA intended to proceed with the redelegation according to its procedures. Dr. Ochuodho did not respond to that e-mail. Indeed, the IANA has not received any direct communications from Dr. Ochuodho since that meeting.
On 18 October 2002, Permanent Secretary Sammy Kyungu of the Kenyan government’s Ministry of Transport and Communications wrote to ICANN's President to reiterate the Kenyan government's recognition of KENIC "as the appropriate entity to hold the delegation of authority by the ICANN for administrative authority of the .ke country code top level domain (ccTLD)." Permanent Secretary Kyungu specified that the Kenyan government's recognition was conditional on KENIC operating within the provisions of its Memorandum & Articles of Association, and stated the commitment of the Kenyan government to fulfill its responsibilities as envisioned in the "Principles for the Delegation and Administration of Country Code Top Level Domains" adopted by ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) on 23 February 2000. Permanent Secretary Kyungu also noted that Kenya's government was a regular and active participant in the GAC.
Indicating that the respective roles and responsibilities of the Kenyan government and KENIC had been detailed in a communication dated 21 June 2002, Permanent Secretary Kyungu stated that the Kenyan government would "require that KENIC Limited manage the .ke top-level domain according to the interest of the Kenyan public and particularly its Internet community." The letter further detailed a set of anticipated policy coordination practices designed to minimize the likelihood of conflict between governmental and global policy requirements, and endorsed the standard ICANN-ccTLD contractual mechanisms for redelegation and the designation of a successor registry operator.
Over the past several months, KENIC has named an interim CEO and recruited a pair of engineers with strong software and networking skills. The engineers have been pursuing relevant training in registry software tools and operations, including a period in residence at the .ug registry in Kampala. KENIC's technical committee has been proceeding with the design of technical infrastructure, the acquisition of hardware and software, and the preparation of transition plans. In addition, KENIC has established various working groups to address policy issues such as registration pricing, consideration of a registry/registrar model, and dispute resolution. An open public forum was held in Nairobi on 8 August 2002, at which speakers presented elements of KENIC's proposed organizational, technical, and policy arrangements, and took comments and suggestions from the audience. KENIC has established an open e-mail list for the discussion of policy matters.
KENIC and ICANN have agreed on language for a Sponsorship Agreement under which KENIC would assume the responsibility as sponsoring organization/delegee of the .ke ccTLD. On 18 November 2002, the ICANN Board of Directors authorized ICANN to enter this Sponsorship Agreement, which closely parallels the model Sponsorship Agreement ICANN has developed for triangular relationships among ICANN, private-sector sponsoring organizations, and the relevant national governments.
This report is being provided under the contract for performance of the IANA function between the United States Government and ICANN. Under that contract, ICANN performs the IANA function, which includes receiving delegation and redelegation requests concerning ccTLDs, investigating the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and reporting on the requests.
In acting on redelegation requests, the IANA currently follows the practices summarized in "Internet Domain Name System Structure and Delegation" (ICP-1). ICP-1 represents an update of the portions of RFC 1591 (which was issued in March 1994) dealing with ccTLDs, and reflects subsequent documents and evolution of the policies followed by the IANA through May 1999.
In considering delegation or redelegation of a ccTLD, the IANA seeks input from persons significantly affected by the transfer, particularly those within the nation or territory which the ccTLD has been established to benefit. As noted in ICP-1, the parties affected include especially the relevant government or public authority: "The desires of the government of a country with regard to delegation of a ccTLD are taken very seriously. The IANA will make them a major consideration in any TLD delegation/transfer discussions."
The presence or absence of mutual agreement of the old and new delegees is a significant factor in determining whether redelegation is appropriate. As stated in ICP-1 (echoing RFC 1591): "In the event of a conflict over designation of a TLD manager, the IANA tries to have conflicting parties reach agreement among themselves and generally takes no action unless all contending parties agree." Nonetheless, in past circumstances where "the parties involved in proposed delegations or transfers have not been able to reach an agreement[,] the IANA has been required to resolve the matter."1 Characteristically, these circumstances have involved an overwhelming demonstration, without adequate rebuttal, of relevant support for redelegation. See IANA Report on Request for Redelegation of the .pn Top-Level Domain (11 February 2000).
In the case of .ke, the current administrative contact has not agreed to the proposed redelegation to KENIC. However, he has also not responded to the many efforts of participants in the Kenyan Internet community to discuss with him their concerns regarding the .ke ccTLD. The KENIC organizers have made every reasonable attempt to include Dr. Ochuodho into their process, to engage him in dialogue, and to develop a commonly acceptable plan to which he would consent, but Dr. Ochuodho has not responded to these attempts. Where serious concerns are raised within the local Internet community, the administrative contact should seek to discuss, and as appropriate address, those concerns.
Dr. Ochuodho has similarly failed to respond to the IANA's inquiries. The IANA has repeatedly asked him to provide some response to the considerable documentation of Kenyan Internet community support that has been provided by KENIC. However, he has sent no acknowledgement, response, or rebuttal to this documentation, other than his allegations of political motivation at his meeting with IANA representatives on 7 August 2002. He has not responded to the IANA's requests that he come forth, in response to the widely expressed community concerns, with evidence of community support for his continued role as administrative contact, or evidence of dissatisfaction with KENIC. He has not fulfilled his commitment, agreed at the 7 August 2002 meeting, that within thirty days he would either (a) work out a solution with KENIC on the management of the .ke ccTLD; (b) demonstrate significant support within the Kenyan Internet community for administration of the .ke ccTLD by him rather than KENIC; or (c) agree to the redelegation of the .ke ccTLD.
Based on the circumstances described above, the IANA concludes that redelegation is warranted in this case despite the objections of the current administrative contact. Under IANA policy, ccTLD redelegation requests are measured primarily by two yardsticks: technical competence and the views of the local Internet community. In the case of .ke, the overwhelming consensus of the views that have been expressed to the IANA is that KENIC has won the support of a wide range of Kenyan Internet stakeholders, including Internet service providers, users (academic, non-commercial, and business), and the government. Documentary evidence of support was reinforced at the meeting of IANA representatives with leaders of these communities in Nairobi in August 2002, in which the common message to the IANA was one of support for KENIC and a desire to see a change of delegation. The desire of the Kenyan Internet stakeholders that comprise KENIC to see the .ke registry operated on a professional basis within Kenya is reasonable, and is consistent with the principle that ccTLDs should serve and be responsive to the Internet communities in the countries or territories with which they are associated. Consistent with longstanding IANA policy, the IANA also gives significant weight to the views of the Kenyan government, which has expressed its confidence in KENIC as a community-based, open, participatory, non-governmental administrator for the .ke registry.
The current technical contact, Randy Bush, is, as noted above, providing registry services for the .ke domain on a volunteer basis. (Mr. Bush generously provides this free service for many ccTLDs in Africa and elsewhere.) KENIC has recruited talented and experienced engineering staff and has developed and begun to implement a realistic plan to achieve stable and competent technical registry operations within the next several months. This is in preparation for a change of technical contact from Mr. Bush to KENIC at such time as KENIC is in a position to take on these responsibilities. Mr. Bush does not object to someone with demonstrated technical competence taking over the technical responsibility.
In concluding that redelegation is appropriate, the IANA does not question the substantial contributions of good faith of Dr. Ochuodho. Since 1993, he has provided, without compensation, a valuable service to Kenya, in the best traditions of the Internet. During his service, the Internet has arrived and grown enormously in Kenya. With hundreds of thousands of users now going online every day, it is not surprising that the Kenyan Internet community would seek to have the administration of the .ke registry shifted from a single individual to a stable and reliable institutional setting, with open and participatory policymaking procedures, professional staffing, and competent technical operations located within Kenya. Dr. Ochuodho deserves credit for establishing the .ke registry and shepherding its development to this point. In that sense, the IANA's redelegation determination is a consequence of the growth and maturation of the Kenyan Internet community, and should not be taken as a criticism of Dr. Ochuodho's voluntary stewardship.
Although the IANA is grateful for Dr. Ochuodho's years of volunteer service to the Kenyan and global Internet communities, administrative contacts are obligated to communicate with the IANA and be responsive to important issues such as serious redelegation requests. An administrative contact is by no means expected to agree with the IANA in all matters, but, as the trustee to which the IANA has delegated the duty to serve the local and global Internet communities, an administrative contact is certainly required to communicate with the IANA, particularly on matters of evidently strong concern to significant Internet stakeholders in the country or territory. When specifically documented concerns about a ccTLD's operation are presented to the IANA, it is incumbent on the administrative contact to present the IANA with an adequate rebuttal.
In February 2000, the ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) issued a document entitled "Principles for the Delegation and Administration of Country Code Top Level Domains," commonly known as the "GAC Principles." These principles serve as "best practices" to guide governments in assuming proper roles with respect to the Internet's naming system, which the GAC has observed is a public resource to be administered in the public interest. In general, they recognize that each government has the ultimate responsibility within its territory for its national public-policy objectives, but also that ICANN has the responsibility for ensuring that the Internet domain-name system continues to provide an effective and interoperable global naming system. The GAC Principles recommend that governments and ICANN pursue their respective roles by creating a framework for accountability memorialized in communications with each other and with the ccTLD manager (see clause 2). The GAC Principles guide governments on how to responsibly structure their relations with ccTLD managers (see clauses 5.5 and 9). Among these specific principles, the best practices contemplate that governments will ensure that the ccTLD manager complies with ICANN policies related to global coordination of the Internet DNS (clauses 9.1.7 and 9.1.8).
KENIC has committed itself to the GAC principles, and its responsibilities under clause 9, as confirmed in a 25 October 2002 communication from the KENIC as provided for by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. Similarly, the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) have committed, on behalf of the Kenyan government, to fulfill its public-interest responsibilities, to support the successful non-governmental operation of the .ke registry, and to respect the particular roles and responsibilities of KENIC and ICANN.
The structure proposed by KENIC and endorsed by the Kenyan government is to have KENIC undertake management of the .ke ccTLD under appropriate oversight of the Kenyan government (concerning national public-policy interests) and ICANN (concerning global technical-coordination interests). This structure is consonant with the principle of private-sector responsibility for technical coordination under which the Internet has flourished. In reviewing the request and in light of (a) the Kenyan government's endorsement of KENIC as the appropriate private-sector manager and (b) KENIC's willingness to enter a Sponsorship Agreement embodying an appropriate framework of accountability, the IANA concludes that KENIC is the appropriate delegee of the .ke ccTLD.
One mechanism to reflect an appropriate framework of accountability is the arrangement embodied in the GAC Principles. Where, as here, the relevant government is prepared to carry out the ultimate responsibility for overseeing the ccTLD manager's service to the local Internet community and the manager is prepared to conduct itself within that framework, the interests of the local and global Internet communities are served by ICANN joining into that cooperative arrangement.
Two of the three parts of that arrangement the KENIC/Government and Government/ICANN communications have already been implemented. Upon signing of the ICANN/KENIC sponsorship agreement, which reflects the principles set forth in clause 10 of the GAC Principles, adjusted as necessary to suit local circumstances, the .ke ccTLD administrative role should be redelgated to KENIC.
Until such time as KENIC has completed the establishment of a competent technical capability and is ready to take on the responsibility so that a smooth transfer of technical functions to KENIC can responsibly be accomplished, Randy Bush will remain the technical contact as designated by KENIC under its Sponsorship Agreement with ICANN.
1. See ICP-1.
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