Delegation of the .SX domain representing Sint Maarten (Dutch part) to SX Registry SA B.V.
ICANN has received a request to delegate the .SX domain, a country-code top-level domain representing the Dutch part of Sint Maarten, to “SX Registry SA B.V.”. ICANN Staff have assessed the request, and provide this report for the ICANN Board of Directors to consider.
The Caribbean island of Saint Martin is divided into two distinct entities, referred to in ISO 3166-1 nomenclature as “Sint Maarten (Dutch part)” and “Saint Martin (French part)”. The “SX” ISO 3166-1 code is designated for use to represent Sint Maarten (Dutch part), hereinafter “Sint Maarten”.
Chronology of events
On 10 October 2010, the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved. Of its constituent parts, Curaçao and Sint Maarten both became new countries, whereas Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba (collectively, “the BES islands”), became municipalities of the Netherlands.
On 15 December 2010, the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency instantiated three new entries in the ISO 3166-1 database. These were for Curaçao, with the two-letter code of “CW”; for Sint Maarten (Dutch part), with the two-letter code of “SX”; and for the BES islands, with the two-letter code of “BQ”.
In May 2011, SX Registry SA, a Luxembourg-based entity, presented an initial application to ICANN for delegation of the .SX top-level domain. After dialogue concerning the contents of the application, particularly with respect to local presence requirements, the applicant undertook to incorporate a subordinate company in the country of Sint Maarten. The application was later amended to request delegation to the Sint Maarten-based entity, SX Registry SA B.V..
In March 2011, the applicant executed a “grand-father agreement” with the University of the Netherlands Antilles. In the agreement, it undertook to offer all existing Sint Maarten-based registrants of .AN domains — of which there are approximately 30 — the ability to register the matching domain within the .SX domain, prior to any other sunrise process for the domain. This agreement was later revised in September 2011 to reflect the Sint Maarten-based entity.
Proposed Sponsoring Organisation and Contacts
The proposed sponsoring organisation is SX Registry SA B.V., a private company incorporated in Sint Maarten. It is wholly owned by SX Registry SA, based in Luxembourg.
The proposed administrative contact is Rudia Mezas, an employee of SX Registry SA B.V.. The contact is understood to be based in Sint Maarten.
The proposed technical contact is Jan Jansen, the Chief Technology Officer of OpenRegistry.
Evaluation of the Request
The .SX top-level domain is eligible for delegation, as it is the assigned ISO 3166-1 two-letter code representing the country Sint Maarten.
The Government of Sint Maarten is in support of the application, which is the result of a contract between the proposed sponsoring organisation and the Bureau of Telecommunications and Post executed in July 2011. The application has further been endorsed by the Minister of Telecommunications.
Letters of support for the application have also been received on behalf of Scarlet and Caribserve, two local network providers in Sint Maarten that represent the entire market of private Internet access provision.
The application is consistent with known applicable local laws in Sint Maarten.
The proposed sponsoring organisation undertakes to operate the domain in a fair and equitable manner.
Based in country
The proposed sponsoring organisation is constituted in Sint Maarten. The proposed administrative contact is understood to be resident in Sint Maarten.
Effectively, much of the substance of the proposed operation will be based outside of the country.
It is considered that one of the premises upon which local presence requirements are based is the notion that the operations will be conducted and answerable under local law. Specifically, RFC 1591 notes the requirement for “a manager that supervises the domain names and operated the domain names system in that country”, and that “at least the administrative contact must reside in the country involved”.
In reference to this, the Sint Maarten Minister for Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications, H.E. Franklyn Meyers, writes: “While we appreciate [ICANN]’s theoretical concerns [relating to local presence], it is important to note that the contractual agreement that was formed between [the applicant] and [the government] does include clear review process (sic) and termination provisions under which the government retains the right to contract with another provider. ... Moreover, the relevant registrant data and DNS records will be mirrored on a server located in Sint Maarten [allowing for] continuity or even migration to another provider should it be necessary. [Local presence requirements] will therefore not be an issue.” The communication also notes the small size of Sint Maarten, and the inability of the local community to provide local service given “too limited resources and expertise in this field”.
The request is deemed uncontested.
Delegation of the .SX domain will also involve transition of some users of the .AN top-level domain. These transition issues were explored in more detail in the report to delegate the .CW domain for Curaçao, that was accepted by the ICANN Board on 11 October 2011. The proposed sponsoring organisation has entered into an agreement with the University of the Netherlands Antilles, undertaking to provide priority rights to existing .AN registrants located in Sint Maarten, allowing them first access to register their matching .SX domain.
The application has provided satisfactory details on the technical and operational infrastructure and expertise that will be used to operate the domain. Proposed policies for management of the domain have also been tendered.
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.
Purpose of evaluations
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 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.
The assessment is focussed on the capacity for the proposed sponsoring organisation to meet the following criteria:
- The domain should be operated within the country, including having its sponsoring organisation and administrative contact based in the country.
- The domain should be operated in a way that is fair and equitable to all groups in the local Internet community.
- Significantly interested parties in the domain should agree that the prospective trustee is the appropriate party to be responsible for the domain, with the desires of the national government taken very seriously.
- The domain must be operated competently, both technically and operationally. Management of the domain should adhere to relevant technical standards and community best practices.
- Risks to the stability of the Internet addressing system must be adequately considered and addressed, particularly with regard to how existing identifiers will continue to function.
Method of evaluation
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.