IANA Report on Redelegation of the .GW Top-Level Domain
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) function of ICANN, as part of the administrative tasks associated with management of the Domain Name System root zone, is responsible for receiving requests for the delegation and redelegation of top-level domains, investigating and reporting on the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and, when appropriate, implementing the redelegations.
This report gives the findings and conclusions of the IANA on its investigation of a request for redelegation of .GW, the country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Guinea-Bissau.
Factual and Procedural Background
Guinea-Bissau is a western African country with a population of about 1.4 million people. It borders Guinea and Senegal. The country is assigned the ISO 3166-1 alpha 2 code of “GW”.
On 4 December 1997, IANA approved a request for the initial delegation of the .GW ccTLD. It was delegated to Guiné Telecom, with the administrative and technical contacts as the employees Cherno Sanha and Mario Embalo. These were replaced in 2003 by Isidoro Rodrigues and Eli Turpin, respectively. In June 2005, IANA received a request to redelegate the .GW domain a new entity, Fundação IT & MEDIA Universidade de Bissau (hereafter IT&M). For the next several months, IANA evaluated the redelegation request and requested further documentation required under redelegation procedure, such as indications of local Internet community support, demonstrations of technical competence, and so on.
According to IANA’s research, the request was disputed by the current operators and there were conflicting reports about the Government support for the redelegation.
On 21 February 2006, IANA received a letter from the Minister for Transportation and Communications, Admiro Nelson Belo, requesting the withdrawal of the redelegation request. IANA advised the parties that without this support, and without the support of the current operators, the request could not proceed, and heard nothing further. The request was then administratively closed.
On 4 May 2006, a new application was submitted by Fernando J.F. de Lacerda, president of Instituto das Comunicacoes da Guine-Bissau. The request seeks the delegation of .GW to be transferred to the same entity from the previous application, IT&M. The new request included documentation claiming that there was no longer any dispute, that the current operators agreed to the transfer, and attached a contract between the Government of Guinea-Bissau and IT&M consenting to the transfer, dated in May 2006, and signed by Minister Belo.
Per the delegation process, IANA sought confirmation from the current administrative and technical contacts for .GW to confirm their consent to the redelegation. Their initial response was that they did not support the redelegation, and that they were again surprised by the request.
To seek further clarification, IANA wrote to the Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau. Given conflicting reports and a lack of clarity or consistency from the government agencies dealt with until that time, IANA sought to have a clear uncontestable view from the Government of Guinea-Bissau.
On 12 June 2006, IANA received a letter from the Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau, Aristides Gomes, stating simply that they wish to proceed with the transfer. After seeking clarification on what terms were intended by this arrangement, Gomes wrote to clarify on 19 June 2006 that indeed it was the decision of the Government of Guinea Bissau to transfer .GW to IT&M.
Having received the government approval, IANA again proceeded to elicit approval from the current operator for a redelegation on 27 June 2006.
By mid-July, IANA had received all required approvals (namely, the current administrative and technical contacts, and the proposed administrative and technical contacts). The proposed name servers for .GW were not functioning correctly and this was resolved over a period of time.
With the requirements for government support apparently concluded, and consent from the current operators now forthcoming, the applicants were reminded on July 28 that there was no documentation describing the proposed operators skills, demonstrating technical competence, and meeting the various other criteria of redelegation.
On 8 October 2006, supplemental documentation was received. The documentation included a letter from DENIC to IT&M concluding that DENIC would serve as the technical contact for the .GW top-level domain.
In addition to the DENIC letter, the package included a numbers of letters of support from various organizations.
On 8 November 2006, the Minister for Telecommunications wrote to IANA, stating that they supported the appointment of DENIC as the technical contact for .GW.
At the request of the applicant, the details of the application were presented to the ICANN Board of Directors at its January 2007 meeting. The board expressed that further questions should be asked of the applicant to ensure they met all of the redelegation criteria. These questions specifically related to operational procedures and competence; mechanisms for local participation; provisions for fair and equitable treatment; how the applicant met the local presence requirements; and clarity on the principals of the applicant organization.
IANA sought information on these areas, and in February 2007 was advised that the information would be forthcoming. The new information was received by IANA on 2 March 2007 – including a new template appointing a new in-country Administrative Contact, and answers to the other areas of concern with the application. The Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau tendered specific answers, with the remainder submitted by IT&M.
After reviewing the additional information, IANA advised that it believed that all outstanding questions of concern had been addressed.
On 25 April 2007 the ICANN Board of Directors considered the request, and authorized the President of ICANN to move forward with the delegation of the .GW top-level domain to the Fundação IT & MEDIA Universidade de Bissau.
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 issuing a report documenting IANA’s findings.
In its role as investigator of delegation requests, IANA is guided by the practices summarized in:
“Domain Name System Structure and Delegation” (RFC 1591). This document describes the practices relating to delegations at its publication in 1994.
“Internet Domain Name System Structure and Delegation” (ICP-1). This document represents an ICANN-written update of the portions of RFC 1591 dealing with ccTLDs and reflects subsequent evolution of the policies followed by the IANA through May, 1999.
“The Governmental Advisory Committee Principles for Delegation and Administration of ccTLDs” (GAC Principles). This document serve as “best practices” to guide governments in assuming proper roles with respect to the Internet's naming system.
In considering the delegation of a ccTLD, IANA seeks input from both the requesting party as well as from persons and/or organizations that may be significantly affected by the change in the top-level DNS hierarchy, particularly those within the nation or territory the ccTLD designates. As noted in ICP-1, the parties affected include 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."
Taking these three documents into consideration, the evaluation of a delegation request involves determining facts that relate to the applicant’s capacity to meet the following criteria:
Operational and technical skills
Operator in country
In summary, the applicant’s credentials as they relate to the enumerated criteria are:
Operational and technical skills.
With technical operation performed by DENIC, the registry would be run by a competent and experienced ccTLD registry operation. It is the stated intention of the applicant that DENIC would train Guinea-Bissau persons on registry operations with an aim to ultimately have operations fully in country. However, the applicant believes neither the skills nor technical capacity are sufficient within country to achieve this immediately.
Operator in country.
The proposed sponsoring organisation, Fundação IT & MEDIA Universidade de Bissau, is located within country; and the proposed administrative contact is based in country.
The applicants have stated the domain will be operated with a registry-registrar model, with no inequitable limitations on registration criteria.
The ICANN Government Advisory Committee Principles observes that the Internet’s naming system is “a public resource … administered in the public or common interest.” In general, ICANN’s GAC recognizes that each government has the ultimate responsibility within its territory for its national public policy objectives, however in the case of a redelegation, this may be tempered by ICANN’s responsibility to ensure the Internet DNS continues to provide an effective and interoperable global naming system. It would appear the Government is in support of the redelegation. Despite the history of the request, at this time multiple levels of government have endorsed the proposal to redelegate.
Based upon investigations and research, IANA believes the applicant has met the basic criteria to support the redelegation request.
The operators have engaged an experienced registry operator to both operate the registry, and to educate the organisation on how to run a registry. They appear to have government support, and have enumerated some level of community support. Whilst this has not been substantial, and can not be easily quantified, IANA’s experience has been determining the level of community support in countries of Guinea-Bissau’s economic development is difficult. Whilst initially protesting the redelegation, the current operators have since altered their stance and now support the redelegation.
Of possible concern is that the registry's operations will be substantially operated from outside the country. The applicant has taken steps to address the initial concerns raised on this aspect in their application, and the government has stressed that they understand the ramifications of this approach — and that they are still desirous to proceed.
According to RFC 1591 and ICP-1, IANA needs to respect the ability for a local Internet community as well as local law and local government to make decisions about the operation of a TLD.
IANA therefore concludes that the .GW domain should be redelegated to the Fundação IT & MEDIA Universidade de Bissau as per their request.
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