ICANN has received a request to delegate 香港 as a country-code top-level domain representing Hong Kong, to Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation Limited. ICANN Staff have assessed the request, and provide this report for the ICANN Board of Directors to consider.
The “HK” ISO 3166-1 code, from which this application’s eligibility derives, is designated for use to represent Hong Kong.
The domain under consideration for delegation at the DNS root level is “香港”. This is represented in ASCII-compatible encoding according to the 2003 IDNA specification as “xn--j6w193g”. The individual Unicode code points that comprise this string are U+9999 U+6E2F.
In Chinese language, the string has a meaning equivalent to “Hong Kong” in English. The string is expressed using Chinese script.
In November 2009, an application was made to the new “IDN Fast Track” process to have the string “香港” recognised as representing Hong Kong. The Governments of Hong Kong supported the application, along with linguistic analysis by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong. Community support for the string was derived from the applicant’s “Consultative and Advisory Panel” comprised of diverse stakeholders tasked with advising the applicant.
On 1 March 2010, review by the IDN Fast Track DNS Stability Panel found that applied-for string for Hong Kong “presents none of the threats to the stability or security of the DNS ... and (b) presents an acceptably low risk of user confusion”. The request for the string to represent Hong Kong was subsequently approved.
On 14 April 2010, Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation presented an application to ICANN for delegation of “香港” as a top-level domain.
The proposed sponsoring organisation is Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation Limited, a company registered in Hong Kong.
The proposed administrative contact is Jonathan Shea, Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation. The administrative contact is understood to be based in Hong Kong.
The proposed technical contact is Ben Lee, the IT manager and Information Security Officer of Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation Limited.
The top-level domain “香港” is eligible for delegation under ICANN policy, as the string has been deemed an appropriate representation of Hong Kong through the ICANN Fast Track String Selection process, and Hong Kong is presently listed in the ISO 3166-1 standard.
Government support for the applicant can be inferred from a letter written by Jeremy Godfrey, the Government Chief Information Officer, on 2 October 2009. In this letter, he invites the applicant to apply to ICANN to operate the “. 香港” domain. The letter also refers to a Memorandum of Understand executed between the Government and Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation for .HK, and noting its applicability to the internationalised top-level domains for Hong Kong.
The applicant maintains a “Consultative and Advisory Panel” comprised of 18 people who advise the company. The applicant states this panel alleviates the requirement to conduct public consultations regarding its operations, and can instead consult to panel as an accurate distillation of its local community. It is this panel the company consulted for community guidance on string selection, and determination that the applicant should apply for delegation of the domain. No other community consultation appears to have been undertaken.
The application is consistent with known applicable laws in Hong Kong.
The proposed sponsoring organisation undertakes to operate the domain in a fair and equitable manner.
The proposed sponsoring organisation is constituted in Hong Kong. The proposed administrative contact is understood to be resident in Hong Kong. The registry is to be operated in the country.
The application does not involve a transfer of domain operations from an existing domain registry, and therefore stability aspects relating to registry transfer have not been evaluated.
In submissions on this application, it was noted that the Hong Kong Internet Service Providers Association had sought endorsement from the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, which had been declined as they had already supported Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation. No other applications have been submitted to ICANN that contest this application.
The proposed sponsoring organisation has gained registry experience operating the “.HK” top-level domain since 2002. The organisation will utilise the established and mature registry systems and network infrastructure already in use for this domain for the proposed new top-level domain. Detailed information on the operational and technical plans of the registry have been provided.
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 managing the delegations 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. These criteria largely relate to the level of support the trustee has 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 new country-code top-level domains, and redelegating or revoking existing country-code 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 are made by the ICANN Board of Directors, taking into account ICANN’s core mission of ensuring the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systems.
The evaluation of eligibility for country-code top-level domains, and of evaluating responsible trustees charged with operating them, is guided by a number of principles. The objective of the assessment is that the action enhances the secure and stable operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systems. The evolution of the principles has been documented in “Domain Name System Structure and Delegation” (RFC 1591), “Internet Domain Name System Structure and Delegation” (ICP-1), and other informational memoranda.
In considering requests to delegate or redelegate country-code top-level domains, input is sought regarding the proposed 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.
The assessment is focussed on the capacity for the proposed sponsoring organisation to meet the following criteria:
To assess these criteria, information is requested from the applicant regarding the proposed sponsoring organisation and method of operation. 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 the application; the competencies and skills of the trustee to operate the domain; the legal authenticity, status and character of the proposed trustee; and the nature of government support fort he proposal. The view of any current trustee 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 this documentation and input, it is analysed in relation to existing root zone management procedures, seeking input from parties both related to as well as independent of the proposed sponsoring organisation should the information provided in the original application be deficient. The applicant is given the opportunity to cure any deficiencies before a final assessment is made.
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, ICANN staff will work with the applicant to address the issues.
Assuming all issues are resolved, an assessment is compiled providing all relevant details regarding the proposed sponsoring organisation and its suitability to operate the top-level domain being requested. This assessment is submitted to ICANN’s Board of Directors for its determination on whether to proceed with the request.