IANA Report on Redelegation of the .la 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. Earlier this year, the IANA received a request for changing the sponsoring organization, administrative contact, and technical contact for the .la country-code top-level domain (ccTLD). This report gives the findings and conclusions of the IANA on its investigation of that request.
The .la ccTLD was established in May 1996 based on the assignment of the "la" code in the ISO 3166-1 list to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The .la ccTLD was initially to Mr. Sisomphet Nhoybouakong (an employee in the Lao PDR Prime Minister’s office) as administrative contact and the Keeper of Domains, of Singapore Telecom, SingNet (of Singapore) as technical contact.
In January 2001, the IANA received a request from Keeper of Domains, SingNet (the technical contact) requesting that the technical contact be changed to Master of Domains, Sterling. Sterling Pacific Pty., Ltd. is a Hong Kong-based company that had entered into a Technical Cooperation Agreement concerning the .la ccTLD with the Lao Government. Sterling was engaged, through a program announced in December 2000 to register domain names within the .la ccTLD in the United States and elsewhere, with the suggestion that .la registrations could be of interest to those in "Los Angeles, Latin America or Louisiana."
Although the request to change the technical contact was confirmed by the technical contact, the administrative contact did not initially respond to the IANA's inquiries regarding his position. In November 2001, the IANA received a letter from the Lao PDR Prime Minister's Office notifying the IANA that the Technical Cooperation Agreement between Sterling and the Lao Government had been terminated by notices in April and June 2000, and that subsequently the Lao Courts had issued an interim order "on 8 August 2001 ruling the termination lawful and ordering the ceasing of all operations by Sterling in relation to ccTLD .la." Despite the termination by the Lao Government of the Technical Cooperation Agreement, Sterling continued to operate, market, and promote the .la ccTLD though a website it branded as "dotLA L.A.'s own domain."
In early 2002, the IANA received a request from the Lao Government that the .la ccTLD be redelegated to the Lao National Internet Committee (LANIC, a committee of governmental ministers), with designated in-country administrative and technical contacts.
The Lao Government seeks, in this redelegation request, to put the .la TLD on a more institutional basis under a Memorandum of Understanding with ICANN, in place of the current delegation to Sisomphet Nhoybouakong as administrative contact and Keeper of Domains, SingNet as technical contact. Both the present administrative contact and the present technical contact have consented to the redelegation. On 17 September 2002, the ICANN Board of Directors authorized the entry of this Memorandum of Understanding, which closely parallels prior MoUs entered for the .bi and .mw ccTLDs, with the Lao Government.
This report is being provided under the contract for performance of the IANA function between the United States Government and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (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.
Here, the Lao Government's request is to shift the delegation from an employee of its Science, Technology, and Environment Agency (STEA, formerly known as the Science, Technology, and Environment Organization or STENO) and Keeper of Domains, Singnet to the Lao National Internet Committee (LANIC). LANIC was established by a decree of the Lao Prime Minister and consists of representatives of the Ministry of Communication,Transportation, Posts and Construction; the Ministry of Information and Culture; the Ministry of Interior; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and STEA.
In considering delegation or redelegation of a ccTLD, the IANA also 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." Here, the government has requested the redelegation.
Mutual agreement of the old and new delegees is also a significant factor favoring a redelegation. Here, both present delegees (Sisomphet Nhoybouakong as administrative contact and Keeper of Domains, SingNet as technical contact) as well as the proposed new delegee (LANIC) favor the change in delegation.
LANIC appears well-positioned to operate the .la ccTLD in a sound and stable manner that will promote the development of the Internet in the Lao PDR. ccTLDs have been established to facilitate and promote the spread of the Internet globally. They are delegated to designated managers, who operate the ccTLDs according to local policies that are adapted to best meet the economic, cultural, linguistic, and legal circumstances of the country or territory involved. LANIC has been involved in several initiatives to advance development of the Internet within the Lao PDR, as appropriate in the context of that country’s governmental system. Its mission includes promoting the efficient and permanent connection and exchange of information within the country and abroad, and thereby promoting socio-economic development.
The shifting of ccTLD delegations from individuals that have been designated informally as administrative and technical contacts to organizations operating under written agreements or memoranda of understanding is a positive step toward the stable and professional operation of ccTLDs in the public interest. As the Internet becomes increasingly important to global society, it is important that a framework of accountability be established for the operation of all top-level domains, both to promote the global interoperability of the domain-name system and to ensure that the interests of local Internet communities are well-served.
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.
In entering the MoU with ICANN, the Lao Government, through LANIC, formally assumes responsibility for national public-policy aspects of the .la ccTLD, while acknowledging the importance of ICANN's role in ccordinating an effective and interoperable domain-name system. Clarification of this allocation of responsibility is an added benefit of the shifting of the delegation to LANIC.
The IANA concludes that the .la ccTLD should be redelegated, as requested, from the current delegees to LANIC.
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