Request for the Redelegation of .md 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. This report gives the findings and conclusions of the IANA on its investigation pertaining to the request for redelegation of the .md (Moldova) country-code top-level domain (ccTLD).
Factual and Procedural Background
In March 1994, the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute (which then performed the IANA functions) approved a request for establishment of the .md ccTLD. 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 (ISO 3166/MA) as the approved alpha-2 code for Moldova.
Upon its establishment in May 1995, the .md ccTLD was delegated by Dr. Jon Postel (then in charge of the IANA function at the Information Sciences Institute) to Pavel Chirev, of the Republican Centre for Informatics ("RCI") as administrative contact, and David Hoffman of Quantium Innovation, Inc. as technical contact. At that time, it was Dr. Postel's usual practice to delegate authority and responsibilities regarding ccTLDs to trusted individuals, but without entering into formal documentation relating to the delegation. In 1998, RCI entered into a contract with Domain Name Trust, a US-based company, for the rights to operate and oversee the .md ccTLD. Mr. Hoffmann continued to function as the technical contact. In August 2000, the authority over the management and administration of the .md ccTLD (as well as the National Registrant of the .md ccTLD), was designated to a state enterprise within Moldova. On 9 August 2001 the Minister of Transport and Communications through Decree nr. 137 formally designated RCI as the state authority authorized to carry out the responsibility of administering the ccTLD. On 19 September 2001, RCI was transformed into and succeeded by MoldData, a state enterprise.
Meanwhile, Domain Name Trust sold its rights in the contract for operation of the ccTLD to DotMD, LLC, a company largely controlled by a Mr. Fred Meyer, which went into bankruptcy proceedings in October 2002. In February 2003, following the Bankruptcy Court proceedings, the court ordered, as part of settlement of the case, the return of authority over the .md domain name back to the state of Moldova.
On 20 May 2003, the IANA received a communication from Morton Levine, informing the IANA that on 11 February 2003, the United States Bankruptcy Court entered a final order authorizing Morton Levine, trustee of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy estate of Dot MD LCC, to transfer to MoldData all of the Trustee's rights, title and interest in and to the .md domain including technological and operational control. Mr. Levine communicated to the IANA that he was authorized to take such actions as may be necessary and proper to ensure that MoldData is the "only authorized sponsoring organization, technical contact and administrative contact who has authority to take any action on behalf of country-code top level domain name .MD."
In an 18 July 2003 communication to ICANN, the Ministry of Transport and Communication of the Republic of Moldova designated MoldData as the appropriate Sponsoring Organization for the .md ccTLD, and the authorized administrative contact as Mr. Pavel Chirev, Director of MoldData and the technical contact as Mr. Vasile Berzoi, Department Director of MoldData.
When possible, the IANA believes it appropriate to appoint a local contact for the operation of a ccTLD, and ensure the involvement of the local government authority. In seeking to formally recognize MoldData, the local authority designated by the Moldovian Government as the appropriate Sponsoring Organization for the .md ccTLD, the ICANN Board authorized entering into an MoU for operation of the ccTLD with MoldData on 19 August 2003.
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 making its recommendations and reporting actions undertaken in connection with processing such 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 As was observed in the IANA reports on the redelegation of the .ke and the .pn TLDs, characteristically, these circumstances have involved an overwhelming demonstration of relevant support for redelegation,2 or an overwhelming demonstration of facts that the delegation is appropriate (including when it includes moving the functioning of the TLD in-country) and in the best interests of the local Internet community.
Since February 2003, and the order of the Bankruptcy Court to return operation of the .md ccTLD to the appropriate Moldovian government authority, the IANA has since then worked with the trustees for the DotMD, LLC estate, as well as MoldData to facilitate the transition of the ccTLD back to MoldData.
During this roughly six-month period, the IANA received and considered various complaints from Mr. Frank Weyer, Mr. Hoffman, and other parties, claiming that they still maintained a right in the management of the .md ccTLD. During this time period, the IANA attempted to facilitate communications among the parties and amiable resolution of the matter. These attempts by the IANA were largely unsuccessful, however, as the disputes were primarily driven by financial motives, and the IANA as a general policy will avoid becoming involved in third-party financial disputes.
Under RFC 1591 and ICP-1, the trustee must always act in the interests of the local Internet community. It is clear that as administrative contact, RCI (predecessor to MoldData) entered into a relationship for the operation of the ccTLD that eventually caused significant problems in the administration of the .md ccTLD. A trustee of a ccTLD does not have the ability to irrevocably transfer, delegate, or license out the rights to manage the ccTLD, without itself maintaining ultimate responsibility. The dispute and challenges involving the administration of the .md ccTLD have been difficult, contributed to by the bankruptcy of DotMD LLC and related Bankruptcy Court proceedings, and the ensuing financial disputes between various creditors of the DotMD estate and other interested parties.
Based on a review of the request from Pavel Chirev for the return of operation of the ccTLD to MoldData, the order by the Bankruptcy Court, the recognition by the government of Moldova that MoldData is the appropriate Sponsoring Organization, identifying both an administrative and technical contact within MoldData, it appears clear that the authority for management of the .md ccLD should rest with MoldData.
The proposal set forth by the Government of Moldova, and the existing legislation and decree, recognized MoldData as the appropriate entity to manage .md.
The shifting of ccTLD delegations from individuals that have been designated informally as administrative and technical contacts to organizations operating under a writing evidencing a framework of accountability based on respective authoritative communications 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 guidance to governments in their 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, and also that ICANN has the responsibility for ensuring that the Internet domain-name system continues to provide an effective and interoperable global naming system.
According to the relevant communications, MoldData is suited to be inclusive of, and accountable to the Moldovan Internet community and to operate through appropriate open, transparent, and inclusive processes consistent with existing obligations within Moldova.
The structure proposed by MoldData and endorsed by the Moldovan Government is to have MoldData undertake management of the .md ccTLD under appropriate oversight of the Moldovan Government concerning the national policy interests. MoldData and the Moldovan Government also acknowledge and support ICANN's responsibility for coordinating management of the DNS, including the .md ccTLD, to safeguard global technical-coordination interests. In reviewing the request and in light of the Moldovan Government's endorsement of MoldData as the appropriate private-sector manager, and in view of achievement of an agreement evidencing the framework of accountability described above, the IANA concludes that the .md ccTLD should rest with MoldData with all the obligations and responsibilities that this brings.
1. See ICP-1.
2. See IANA Report on Request for Redelegation of the .pn Top-Level Domain (11 February 2000); IANA Report on Request for Redelegation of the .ke Top-Level Domain (20 December 2002).
3. See IANA Report on Request for Redelegation of the .au Top-Level Domain (31 August 2001); IANA Report on Request of the .jp Top-Level Domain (8 February 2002); IANA Report on Request for Redelegation of the .ke Top-Level Domain (20 December 2002); IANA Report on Request for Redelegation of the .sd Top-Level Domain (20 December 2002).
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