IANA Report on Redelegation of the .uz 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 of various requests for redelegation of the .uz (Uzbekistan) country-code top-level domain (ccTLD).
In April 1995, the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute (which then performed the IANA functions) approved a request for establishment of the .uz 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 Uzbekistan. This addition to the ISO 3166/MA list occurred in September 1992, after the break-up of the Soviet Union (.su), of which Uzbekistan had been a part.
Upon its establishment in April 1995, the .uz ccTLD was delegated by Dr. Jon Postel (then in charge of the IANA function at the Information Sciences Institute) to Alex Vostrikov of Tashkent as both administrative and technical contact. At that time, it was Dr. Postel's usual practice to delegate authority and responsibilities regarding ccTLDs to trusted individuals. In August 1999, the administrative and technical contact role was redelegated to Rustam Khamidov, also of Tashkent. Mr. Khamidov established a relationship with a company known as Euracom, with its main office located in Berlin and the relevant operations in Tashkent, through which he handled technical operations for the .uz ccTLD.
The current redelegation analysis has its roots in competing redelegation requests received by the IANA in 2001, leading to a lengthy process of extensive discussions among those seeking redelegation and various participants within the Uzbekistan Internet community. Those discussions ultimately led to considerable evolution of proposals within the community for the administration of the .uz ccTLD.
In May 2001, Mr. Khamidov sent a request the IANA for the .uz domain to be redelegated to two individuals affiliated with Euracom, one (Aziz Bektursunov) a citizen of Uzbekistan with an address in Tashkent and the other (Ranier Hartmann Karl) with an address in Berlin. The IANA later learned that Mr. Khamidov was no longer involved with the functioning of the .uz ccTLD.
While this redelegation request was being investigated, in July 2001, the IANA received a letter from the responsible Uzbekistan Government agency, the Posts and Telecommunications Agency of Uzbekistan, conveying significant dissatisfaction within the Uzbekistan community regarding the manner in which Khamidov/Euracom had been administering the .uz ccTLD. These concerns included failure to ensure the technical security of domain names in the ccTLD; failure to provide an automated database for the ccTLD; lack of defined conditions for the registration of domain names under .uz; and lack of accessibility of the .uz ccTLD administrator. According to the July 2001 letter, these problems complicated the registration of domain names for Uzbekistan users of the Internet, thereby also impeding the development of Internet in Uzbekistan. The Uzbekistan Government requested to the IANA, "as the only international body competent in this sphere," to assist in finding a resolution to the problem, noting that the solution was to transfer administration of the .uz ccTLD to a local Uzbek organization.
While stressing the general need for repatriation of the .uz ccTLD, the July 2001 letter did not propose a specific administrator. At the end of January 2002, however, the Posts and Telecommunications Agency of Uzbekistan sent a second letter to the IANA, requesting redelegation of the .uz ccTLD to that governmental agency, with technical operations to be conducted by "high quality Internet operators in the Republic, thus ensuring conditions of competition and equality."
This letter prompted further discussions within the Uzbek community and with the IANA, after which the Government of Uzbekistan concluded that a better solution would be to have the .uz ccTLD redelegated to the Computerization and Information Technology Developing Center (Uzinfocom), a non-governmental organization formed in June 2002 with the encouragement of the Uzbekistan Government.
The respective redelegation requests (by the Euracom-affiliated individuals and by Uzinfocom as supported by the Uzbekistan Government) were sent to the opposite requestors according to IANA procedures, to allow them an opportunity to comment and seek their views.
The Euracom response on 20 August 2002 asserted that Euracom was always seeking, in its efforts to operate the domain, to "promote Internet development in the Republic of Uzbekistan", and in that several improvements had been made in recent months to the manner in which the .uz ccTLD was being administered. According to Euracom, "in order to speed up the process of registration in Uzbekistan [in view of local payment practices], Euracom promoted establishing the firm Tomas in Tashkent . . . to [carry] out registration of Uzbek users in the basis of local legislation." Euracom noted that Tomas had developed relationships with various Uzbekistan Government agencies.
In a 22 August 2002 comment on Euracom's request for redelegation, the Uzbekistan Government stated that "the Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan officially opposes management of the domain 'UZ' by the company Euracom Equipment GmBH." The Uzbekistan Government expressed concern over whether Euracom, which was not based in Uzbekistan and not engaged in Internet-related business, had a sufficient sense of what is occurring within Uzbekistan on the development of Internet. In addition, the 22 August 2002 letter asserted that Euracom was not working cooperatively with the relevant government or public authority to protect the interests of the local Internet community (as set forth by clause 4.5 of the Governmental Advisory Committee Principles). The Uzbekistan Government felt that Euracom was seeking to run the domain for the sole purpose of making a profit, as reflected in Euracom’s fee structure and its failure to provide a website in the national Uzbek language, which made it difficult for Uzbekistan Internet users to register the domain, further restraining the development of the Internet in Uzbekistan.
In a subsequent letter, dated 28 August 2002, the Uzbekistan Government responded to Euracom's 20 August 2002 letter. Responding to Euracom’s claim that it was taking measures to improve the registration of domain names in Uzbekistan through the formation of the company Tomas, the Uzbekistan Government noted that neither Tomas nor Euracom are involved in any other activity, other than domain names registration with in the .uz domain for residents of Uzbekistan. The 28 August 2002 letter explained that the relationships between Uzbekistan Government agencies and Tomas were temporary in effect during the redelegation process only.
In its 22 August 2002 letter, the Uzbekistan Government noted that continued discussions had resulted in a reformulation of the January 2002 proposal that the .uz ccTLD be operated by a governmental agency. Instead, the government proposed that Uzinfocom, a non-governmental structure, would be the most appropriate organization to administer the ccTLD. Uzinfocom had been formed to carry out the realization of the Program of the Republic of Uzbekistan on the development of computerization, information, and the Internet in the country. The Trustee Committee of the Center consists of representatives of the private and state Internet companies, the international community and organizations, representatives of state bodies, and of foreign and domestic companies.
After review of several communications from both Euracom and the Uzbek government, and through independent efforts to assess the circumstances, the IANA provisionally concluded that the proposal set forth by the Uzbekistan Government, to have a local non-governmental organization administer the .uz ccTLD, was best for the local Internet community.
To clarify and document the relative roles and responsibilities of Uzinfocom, the Uzbekistan Government, and ICANN, representatives of the parties have drafted the bilateral communications between each pair of the three parties. An Uzinfocom-government agreement was entered in October 2002 in accordance with the GAC principles, which the government has used as a guide in proceeding. The Uzbekistan Government has also sent ICANN communications recognizing ICANN's role in coordinating the DNS to preserve global interoperability. In November 2002, Uzinfocom expressed its desire to execute the appropriate ccTLD Sponsorship Agreement with ICANN, and on 2 December 2002 the ICANN Board authorized the entry of such an agreement with Uzinfocom.
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.
Shortly after Mr. Khamidov ceased acting as the administrative and technical contacts for the .uz ccTLD, the IANA received competing requests for redelegation from the Euracom-affiliated individuals and the Uzbekistan Government. After discussion among affected interests within Uzbekistan, the Government's request was reformulated to change the proposed delegee from a Government agency to Uzinfocom, a non-governmental structure. According to the procedure described above, the IANA encouraged the contending parties to engage on each other's positions, but this did not result in achievement of agreement.
In view of the lack of agreement, the IANA was required to resolve the competing requests by the parties to assume the delegation. Based on a review of the responses of the parties, it appears clear that the reformulated proposal put forth by the Uzbekistan Government, to have the ccTLD managed by Uzinfocom as a non-governmental organization, is better designed to reflect the needs for developing the .uz ccTLD according to the interests of the Uzbekistan Internet community and to gain its support. From the materials presented, it also clearly appears that Uzinfocom has the ability to operate the .uz ccTLD with technical competence.
As was the case for .au, .jp, sd, and .ke, as reflected in their respective IANA redelegation reports,3 the Uzbekistan Government's communications reflect that the proposed delegation to Uzinfocom is based on the principles of private-sector self-regulation of the type that have allowed and will continue to allow the Internet globally to flourish. The proposal set forth by the Uzbekistan Government and Uzinfocom is consonant with the principle of private-sector responsibility for technical coordination of the Internet.
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 assist in ensuring that the ccTLD manager complies with ICANN polices related to global coordination of the Internet DNS (clauses 9.1.7 and 9.1.8).
Uzinfocom has committed itself to abiding by the GAC principles, and its responsibilities under clause 9, as confirmed in a 18 October 2002 communication from Uzinfocom to the Deputy Prime-minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan. In a letter from the Deputy Prime Minister to ICANN, the Government of Uzbekistan has committed to private-sector management of the .uz ccTLD while providing the Government with the ability to intervene should the private sector be unable to fulfill this function. The letter also recognizes the desirability of private-sector technical coordination of the Internet on a global scale, and affirms that the Uzbekistan Government is committed to ICANN and "considers ICANN to be the appropriate international entity to oversee the technical coordination of the Internet in a manner that will preserve it as an effective and convenient mechanism for global communication and commerce."
By migrating the delegation of the .uz ccTLD from the responsibility of an individual acting under informal understandings with the IANA to a more formal, legally enforceable, set of arrangements among a delegee organization, the relevant government, and ICANN (which performs the IANA function), the proposed delegation will promote service to the local Internet community and will help assure continued Internet interoperability through the global technical coordination that ICANN was created to provide. In this regard, the recognition the Uzbekistan Government's discussion of the need for close coordination between ICANN and the government is particularly noteworthy.
According to the relevant communications, Uzinfocom is well-suited to be inclusive of, and accountable to, the Uzbekistan Internet community and to operate through appropriate open, transparent, and inclusive processes.
The structure proposed by Uzinfocom and endorsed by the Uzbekistan Government is to have Uzinfocom undertake management of the .uz ccTLD under appropriate oversight of the Uzbekistan Government concerning the national policy interests. Uzinfocom and the Uzbekistan Government also acknowledge and support ICANN's responsibility for coordinating management of the DNS, including the .uz ccTLD, to safeguard global technical-coordination interests. In reviewing the request and in light of the Uzbekistan Government's endorsement of Uzinfocom as the appropriate private-sector manager, and in view of achievement of agreements documenting the framework of accountability described above, the IANA concludes that the .uz ccTLD should be redelegated to Uzinfocom.
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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