Report on the Redelegation of the .VG domain representing the British Virgin Islands to the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission
3 February 2014
This report is being provided under the contract for performance of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) function between the United States Government and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Under that contract, ICANN performs the “IANA functions”, which include receiving delegation and redelegation requests concerning TLDs, investigating the circumstances pertinent to those requests, making its recommendations, and reporting actions undertaken in connection with processing such requests.
The “VG” ISO 3166-1 code is designated for use to represent the British Virgin Islands.
Chronology of events
The currently designated manager for the .VG top-level domain is Pinebrook Developments Ltd, as described in the IANA Root Zone Database.
The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) was established by the Telecommunications Act 2006. The TCR is empowered to “administer domain names” by section 6(h) of the Act. Section 41 elaborates this to include “registration and management of the Virgin Islands country code domain names”.
Pinebrook Developments Ltd, the currently listed sponsoring organization for .VG, is no longer an active legal entity in the British Virgin Islands. The company was automatically dissolved under local law on 31 October 2010 for non-payment of fees for 10 years.
In early 2013, ICANN performed several administrative updates for .VG modifying both the administrative and technical contacts’ emails and name servers. These updates were approved by both the administrative and technical contacts for the domain at the time.
A request to undo those change requests for .VG was submitted later by purported representatives of AdamsNames Ltd., the currently listed technical contact for .VG. At the same time, alternate domain modification requests were submitted by a different party purporting to represent AdamsNames Ltd. Upon investigation, ICANN staff determined there to be an active dispute between different business partners within the same organisation, and asked the parties to resolve the issues between one another before any of the changes could proceed. During these events, one of the two AdamsNames representations started trading under the name of Meridian TLD.
In the following months, ICANN received multiple enquiries and complaints from the Internet community regarding the status of .VG and contradictory communications from AdamsNames. ICANN received reports of dysfunction in the domain registry, and a lack of clarity to registrants and registrars in whom they should transact with and the status of their registrations.
The TRC took interest in the status of the .VG domain and sought to move its operations to a stable situation. On 19 September 2013, TRC entered into an agreement with KSregistry GmbH, a fully owned subsidiary company of Key-Systems GmbH registered in the Federal Republic of Germany, to perform the registry services of .VG under contract. KSregistry had previously been involved in .VG operations as a technical provider to AdamsNames.
On 11 October 2013, the TRC commenced a request to ICANN for redelegation of the .VG top-level domain.
Proposed Sponsoring Organisation and Contacts
The proposed sponsoring organisation is the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, a governmental regulatory body established in the British Virgin Islands.
The proposed administrative contact is Russell Jones, Chief Technology Officer of the Telecommunications Regulator Commission. The administrative contact is understood to be based in the British Virgin Islands.
The proposed technical contact is Oliver Fries, Chief Technology Officer, KSregistry GmbH.
Evaluation of the Request
The top-level domain is eligible for continued delegation under ICANN policy, as it is the assigned ISO 3166-1 two-letter code representing the British Virgin Islands.
Support for the application to redelegate the domain was provided by Hon. Mark Vanterpool, the Minister for Communications and Works of the Government of the British Virgin Islands. Additional statements in support of this redelegation were provided by LIME BVI, the largest local ISP in the British Virgin Islands; Carib Gamer Association, an association representing local Internet users; and Infinite Solutions, the largest local computer-related retail store and services provider.
The application is consistent with known applicable local laws in the British Virgin Islands.
The proposed sponsoring organisation undertakes responsibility to operate the domain in a fair and equitable manner.
Based in country
The proposed sponsoring organisation is constituted in British Virgin Islands. The proposed administrative contact is understood to be resident in the British Virgin Islands. The registry is to be operated in the country.
The existing sponsoring organization has been dissolved, and as such ICANN is unable to obtain formal explicit consent for the transfer.
The current technical contact for the domain does not consent to the change request. A transfer plan was provided by the TRC for the redelegation of .VG to mitigate any risks relating to Internet stability. The TRC has advised the de-facto current operators of the domain registry of their redelegation approach, and as part of their plan, will reconcile the domain database with domain registrars and other involved parties.
The application has provided satisfactory details on the technical and operational infrastructure and expertise that will be used to operate the .VG domain. Proposed policies for management of the domain have also been tendered.
ICANN is tasked with coordinating the Domain Name System root zone as part of a set of functions governed by a contract with the U.S. Government. This includes accepting and evaluating requests for 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 (ccTLDs), and are assigned by ICANN to responsible trustees (known as “Sponsoring Organisations”) that meet a number of public-interest criteria for eligibility. These criteria largely relate to the level of support the trustee has from its local Internet community, its capacity to ensure stable operation of the domain, and its applicability under any relevant local laws.
Through ICANN’s IANA department, requests are received for delegating new ccTLDs, and redelegating or revoking existing ccTLDs. An investigation is performed on the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and, when appropriate, the requests are implemented and a recommendation for delegation or redelegation is made to the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
Purpose of evaluations
The evaluation of eligibility for ccTLDs, 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.
In considering requests to delegate or redelegate ccTLDs, 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 correctly. 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 relevant top-level domain.