Pursuant to the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions contract with the United States Department of Commerce, as part of the administrative tasks associated with management of the Domain Name System root zone, ICANN 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, with appropriate authorizations, implementing the redelegations.
In accordance with ICANN’s performance of these functions, ICANN received a request from MNI Networks Limited for the redelegation of the .MS top-level domain on 12 May 2008. This domain is designated in the ISO 3166-1 standard for Montserrat, an Island located in the Caribbean with a population of approximately 10,000 people.
The current operator of the .MS top-level domain is AdamNames Ltd, located in the United Kingdom and is listed as the technical contact. AdamNames‘s local subsidiary is Lubimal (MS) Ltd., which is listed as the administrative contact and sponsoring organization.
The request calls for the redelegation of the .MS top-level domain to MNI Networks Ltd. The prospective manager (MNI Networks Limited) is domiciled in Montserrat and has been established to manage and operate the .MS country code top-level domain. The prospective manager is affiliated with the Council of Country Code Administrations – a registry services provider, who will provide technical backend support.
The Government of Montserrat supports the redelegation and has entered into an agreement with MNI Networks Ltd. to support the growth of the Internet in Montserrat.
The current operator supports the redelegation and has signed a memorandum of understanding with MNI Networks Ltd to facilitate the transition of existing registry information to the proposed operator.
The proposed administrative contact is Denzil A. West and the proposed technical contact is Dave Williams. Both contacts are representatives of MNI Networks Ltd.
In its role as investigator of delegation and redelegation requests, ICANN is guided by the practices summarized 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, ICANN seeks input from both the current manager and the prospective manager as well as from persons and/or organizations 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 of proof required to permit a delegation action involves determining facts that relate to the applicant’s capacity to meet the following criteria:
In meeting these criteria, ICANN requests information from the applicant. In summary, a request template is sought specifying the exact details of the delegation being sought in the root zone. ICANN staff also asks for various documentation describing: the views of the local Internet community on a change; the competencies and skills of the organization to operate the registry; the legal authenticity, status and character of the proposed operator; and the nature of government support for the proposal.
After receiving these documents, ICANN analyzes the input received 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 by the applicant in their request be deficient.
Once all the documentation has been received, ICANN will also perform various technical checks on the proposed operator’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 applicant’s technical infrastructure, ICANN staff will work with the applicant to address the issues.
Assuming all technical issues are resolved, ICANN staff will compile a report, providing all relevant details regarding the applicant, 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 report is being provided under the contract for performance of the IANA functions between the United States Government and ICANN. Under that contract, ICANN performs the IANA functions, which includes receiving delegation and redelegation requests concerning top-level domains, investigating the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and reporting on the requests.
Pertaining to the obligations described in the evaluation procedure, in summary ICANN has assessed the prospective manager’s credentials according to RFC 1591 and ICP-1 criteria, and found the results to be as follows:
Operational and technical skills
The prospective manager has provided documentation of policies and procedures they have developed for managing the domain. They have engaged a number of existing registry operators to assist them in setting up the new registry functions. Their proposed name server operations meet the technical criteria applied to existing TLD operators. To the extent feasible and according to IANA function process, this verifies the capability for the proposed operator to successfully operate the registry while respecting the ability to for a local Internet community to make decisions about the operation of a TLD. (ICP-1 §a, RFC 1591 §3.5)
Operator in country
The prospective manager and proposed sponsoring organization (MNI Networks Ltd) and the administrative contact both reside in Montserrat. (ICP-1 §a; RFC 1591 §3.1)
The prospective manager has made undertakings to ICANN that registrations will be performed on a first-come, first-served basis that is fair and equitable. (ICP-1 §c; RFC 1591 §3.3)
ICANN has received written support for the application from the Government of Montserrat, signed by Dr. Lowell Lewis, Hon. Chief Minister & Minister of Finance, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. (ICP-1 §a, GAC Principles)
The prospective manager has provided statements of local Internet community support as part of the application. It also has the support of the current manager, who has agreed to provide assistance in the form of registry data to the proposed new operator to facilitate a transfer of operations. Given the small population of the country, there is not a well-established and cohesive local Internet community. (ICP-1 §a; RFC 1591 §3.4)
As described in RFC 1591 and ICP-1, the IANA function is required 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.
In its research, ICANN staff believes that there are grounds for reassignment of the domain name under the relevant criteria.
ICANN therefore concludes that the .MS domain should be redelegated to MNI Networks Ltd as per their request.
On 28 August 2008 the Board of ICANN passed the following resolution:
Whereas, the .MS top-level domain is the designated country-code for Montserrat.
Whereas, ICANN has received a request for redelegation of .MS to MNI Networks Ltd.
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 (2008.08.28.01), that the proposed redelegation of the .MS domain to MNI Networks Ltd is approved.