The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is tasked with managing the Domain Name System root zone as part of a set of functions governed by a contract with the U.S. Government. This includes the delegation and redelegation of top-level domains.
A subset of top-level domains are designated for the local Internet communities in countries to operate in a way that best suits their local needs. These are known as country-code top-level domains, and are assigned by ICANN to responsible trustees (known as ‘Sponsoring Organisations’) who meet a number of public-interest criteria for eligibility — largely relating to their level of support from their local Internet community, their capacity to ensure stable operation of the domain, and their applicability under any relevant local laws.
Through an ICANN department known as the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), requests are received for delegating and redelegating the sponsoring organisation of top-level domains. An investigation is performed on the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and, when appropriate, the requests are implemented. Decisions on whether to implement requests to delegate or redelegate top-level domains are made by the ICANN Board of Directors, taking into account ICANN’s core mission to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systems.
In accordance with this, a request was received for the redelegation of the .NG top-level domain on 15 January 2009. This domain is designated in the ISO 3166-1 standard for Nigeria, a country in Africa with a population of approximately 150 million people.
The .NG top-level domain was initially delegated in 1995 to Ms Iyabo Odusote of the Yaba College of Technology. Initially technical operations were performed by Instituto per le Applicazioni Telematiche (IAT) based in Italy, although these were later transferred and executed by Mr Randy Bush.
In 2004, ICANN redelegated the .NG top-level domain to the National Information Technical Development Agency (NITDA), a national governmental agency, as described in its report (see http://www.iana.org/reports/2004/ng-report-10jun04.html) which concludes:
The structure proposed by NITDA and endorsed by the Nigerian Government is to have NITDA undertake management of the .ng ccTLD under appropriate oversight of the Nigerian Government concerning the national policy interests. NITDA and the Nigerian Government also acknowledge and support ICANN's responsibility for coordinating management of the DNS, including the .ng ccTLD, to safeguard global technical coordination interests. In reviewing the request, in light of the Nigerian Government's endorsement of NITDA as the appropriate manager, and in view of achievement of agreements documenting the framework of accountability described above; the IANA concludes that the .ng ccTLD should be redelegated to NITDA.
The proposed redelegation appeals for the “Nigeria Internet Registration Association” to be designated as the Sponsoring Organisation for the .NG top-level domain. The proposed administrative contact is the President of the organisation, currently Mr Ndukwe Kalu. The proposed technical contact is the DNS Administrator of NIRA, Muhammed Rudman.
The evaluation of a delegation or redelegation request is guided by the practices summarised in:
“Domain Name System Structure and Delegation” (RFC 1591). This document describes IANA function practices relating to delegations at its publication in 1994.
“Internet Domain Name System Structure and Delegation” (ICP-1). This document represents an update of the portions of RFC 1591 dealing with ccTLDs and reflects subsequent evolution of the policies followed by ICANN through May 1999.
The ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee’s 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 or redelegation of a ccTLD, input is sought regarding the proposed new sponsoring organisation, as well as from persons and organisations that may be significantly affected by the change, particularly those within the nation or territory to which the ccTLD is designated. 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 factors into consideration, the burden required to permit a delegation action involves determining suitability in relation to the proposed sponsoring organisation’s capacity to meet the following criteria:
In meeting these criteria, information is requested from regarding the proposed sponsoring organisations. In summary, a request template is sought specifying the exact details of the delegation being sought in the root zone. In addition, various documentation is sought describing: the views of the local Internet community on a change; the competencies and skills of the organisation to operate the registry; the legal authenticity, status and character of the proposed operator; and the nature of government support for the proposal. The view of the current operator is obtained, and in the event of a redelegation, the transfer plan from the previous sponsoring organisation to the new sponsoring organisation is also assessed with a view to ensuring ongoing stable operation of the domain.
After receiving these documents, the input received is analysed in relation to existing zone management procedures, seeking input from parties both related to as well as independent of the applying organization should the information provided in the original application be deficient.
Once all the documentation has been received, various technical checks are performed on the proposed sponsoring organisation’s DNS infrastructure to ensure name servers are properly configured and are able to respond to queries for the top-level domain being requested. Should any anomalies be detected in the proposed technical infrastructure, IANA staff will work with the proposed sponsoring organisation to address the issues.
Assuming all issues are resolved, a report is compiled providing all relevant details regarding the proposed sponsoring organisation, its suitability for operating the top-level domain being requested, and any other information pertinent to the application and submit that report to ICANN’s Board of Directors for its determination on whether to proceed with the request.
This evaluation is being provided to the ICANN Board for consideration and decision, as part of 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 top-level domains, investigating the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and reporting on the requests.
The evaluation of the various criteria relating to the request are as follows:
Documentation has been provided describing operational and technical aspects of the proposed domain operation. NIRA is comprised of four stakeholder components — a general assembly of stakeholder groups and individual end users; an elected board of trustees; an elected board of directors; and a management team.
The proposed sponsoring organisation intends to deploy a resilient registry infrastructure with authoritative name servers located worldwide, as well as extensively within the country. The registry system is being provided by the Council of Country Code Administrators (COCCA), a registry software vendor whose software is currently used some other top-level domain operators.
The proposed sponsoring organisation is a not-for-profit, non-governmental body constituted under the laws of Nigeria and domiciled in Nigeria. The administrative contact is located within Nigeria.
The proposed sponsoring organisation has made undertakings to IANA that a domain name registration policy will be used that provides for registrations on a basis that is fair and equitable.
The current sponsoring organisation is the Government of Nigeria, and it is endorsing the transfer of the domain to the proposed sponsoring organisation. The terms of its endorsement are spelled out in a formal agreement between the Government and NIRA, executed in January 2008. NIRA itself was established collaboratively between the Government and Nigerian Internet community following an explicit directive from the Minister of Science and Technology in 2004.
Letters of support for the redelegation were received from different organisations that purport to represent community interests, including the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria which is the regulatory body for IT in Nigeria, and the Internet Service Providers’ Association of Nigeria, an association of all licensed Internet Service Providers in Nigeria.
In its decision making process on accepting delegation and redelegation requests, subject to meeting the minimum stability criteria enumerated earlier, ICANN respects the ability for a local Internet community as well as local law and local government to make decisions about the operation of a top-level domain.
In its research, staff believe that there are grounds for reassignment of the domain name under the relevant criteria.
It is therefore recommended that the .NG domain should be redelegated to the Nigeria Internet Registration Association as per the request.
On 23 April 2009, the Board of ICANN passed the following resolution:
Whereas, the .NG top-level domain is the designated country-code for Nigeria.
Whereas, ICANN has received a request for redelegation of .NG to the Nigeria Internet Registration Association.
Whereas, ICANN has reviewed the request, and has determined that the proposed redelegation would be in the best interest of the local and global Internet communities.
It is hereby resolved (2009.04.23.05), that the proposed redelegation of the .NG domain to the Nigeria Internet Registration Association is approved.