IANA Report on Redelegation of the .sd Top-Level Domain
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (the IANA), as part of the administrative functions associated with management of the domain-name system root, is responsible for receiving requests for delegation and redelegation of top-level domains, investigating the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and reporting on the requests. In March 2002, the IANA received a preliminary request for redelegation of the .sd (Sudan) country-code top-level domain (ccTLD). This report gives the findings and conclusions of the IANA on its investigation of that request.
The .sd ccTLD registry was first delegated by the IANA in March 1997 to Mr. Ihab I. Osman of Sudan OnLine, Inc., Khartoum, as administrative and technical contact.
Mr. Osman was initially able to establish a functional registry, but the combined pressures of Sudan's civil war, political instabilities, and international sanctions made its ongoing operation impossible. By mid-2001, the .sd registry was essentially dead no new zone files were being generated, and neither the primary nor secondary nameservers were responding to queries.
In 2001, the IANA was contacted by several parties interested in pursuing redelegation of the .sd ccTLD registry. However, most of these parties were located outside Sudan, and, upon investigation, none appeared to have any meaningful support from the local Internet community, and none had the concurrence of the current delegated manager, Mr. Osman.
In February 2002, the IANA was contacted by Mr. Yassir Hassan Elamin, President of Sudan Internet Society1 and an employee of Sudatel, the Sudan Telecom Company. Mr. Elamin had been working to develop a ccTLD management plan, and gathering local Internet community support, and the support of the Sudanese Government, for a broadly-supported redelegation with the consent of the existing manager. After a series of exchanges regarding IANA policies for redelegation, Mr. Elamin submitted to the IANA a preliminary request for redelegation on 20 March 2002. The redelegation proposal was incomplete in certain respects, and, through a series of exchanges over the following months, the IANA requested and obtained additional information on the Sudan Internet Society's technical plans and capabilities. The IANA's consultations with academic and other members of the Sudan Internet community indicated the existence of solid support for Sudan Internet Society and its redelegation initiative.
At the same time, the IANA requested the views and response of the current delegated manager, Mr. Osman. On 12 July 2002, Mr. Osman communicated to the IANA his position on the proposed redelegation: "I fully support the Sudanese Internet Society (SIS) to become the new registry for .sd ccTLD. The SIS is technically qualified and I believe they have the right systems and processes in place to manage the .sd ccTLD." He further expressed his commitment to assist in a smooth transition.
As to its technical capabilities, Sudan Internet Society has made fully adequate provisions for connectivity, DNS nameservers, a management system, and other necessary arrangements. Significantly, through its membership, Sudan Internet Society has access to a broad range of technical talent, including technical staff and systems administrators at ISPs, the national telecom operator, and several universities.
On 6 October 2002, a final version of the formal redelegation template was submitted to the IANA by Mr. Elamin. In a letter dated 15 October 2002, the Minister of Information and Communications of the Republic of the Sudan communicated to the IANA the Sudanese government's endorsement of Sudan Internet Society as the appropriate holder of the delegation for the .sd registry. The letter further attached an exchange of letters between the Ministry and Sudan Internet Society, which together specified in detail the arrangements by which the Sudanese government and Sudan Internet Society would fulfill their respective roles and responsibilities to assure that the .sd registry is operated in the interests of the Sudan Internet community.
The Sudan Internet Society and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) have agreed on language for a Sponsorship Agreement under which the Sudan Internet Society would assume the responsibility of as sponsoring organization/delegee of the .sd ccTLD. On 18 November 2002, the ICANN Board of Directors authorized ICANN to enter this Sponsorship Agreement, which closely parallels the model Sponsorship Agreement ICANN has developed for triangular relationships among ICANN, private-sector sponsoring organizations, and the relevant national governments.
This report is being provided under 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 ccTLDs, investigating the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and reporting on the requests.
In acting on redelegation requests, the IANA currently follows the practices summarized in "Internet Domain Name System Structure and Delegation" (ICP-1). ICP-1 represents an update of the portions of RFC 1591 (which was issued in March 1994) dealing with ccTLDs, and reflects subsequent documents and evolution of the policies followed by the IANA through May 1999.
In considering delegation or redelegation of a ccTLD, the IANA seeks input from persons significantly affected by the transfer, particularly those within the nation or territory which the ccTLD has been established to benefit. As noted in ICP-1, the parties affected include especially 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."
Based on the materials submitted and the IANA’s evaluation of the circumstances, the Sudan Internet Society appears to be an appropriate and technically competent manager for the .sd registry, with broad support from the Sudan Internet community, including the Sudanese government. As noted above, the government of the Republic of the Sudan has formally endorsed the Sudan Internet Society as the appropriate delegee for the .sd registry. Additional endorsements gathered in the IANA's investigation also demonstrate that the Sudan Internet Society enjoys broad support among non-governmental participants in the Sudan Internet community.
Mutual agreement of the old and new delegees is also a significant factor favoring a redelegation. Here, both present delegee (Ihab I. Osman) as well as the proposed new delegee (the Sudan Internet Society) favor the change in delegation.
As part of its redelegation request, Sudan Internet Society provided the IANA with a copy of its intended registration policies. The IANA has reviewed those policies and found them to be consistent with ICP-1 and RFC 1591. The Sudan Internet Society’s technical plans and resources are adequate to the likely needs of the .sd ccTLD.
In February 2000, the ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) issued a document entitled "Principles for the Delegation and Administration of Country Code Top Level Domains," commonly known as the "GAC Principles." These principles serve as "best practices" to guide governments in assuming proper roles with respect to the Internet's naming system, which the GAC has observed is a public resource to be administered in the public interest. In general, they recognize that each government has the ultimate responsibility within its territory for its national public-policy objectives, but also that ICANN has the responsibility for ensuring that the Internet domain-name system continues to provide an effective and interoperable global naming system. The GAC Principles recommend that governments and ICANN pursue their respective roles by creating a framework for accountability memorialized in communications with each other and with the ccTLD manager (see clause 2). The GAC Principles guide governments on how to responsibly structure their relations with ccTLD managers (see clauses 5.5 and 9). Among these specific principles, the best practices contemplate that governments will assist in ensuring that the ccTLD manager complies with ICANN polices related to global coordination of the Internet DNS (clauses 9.1.7 and 9.1.8).
SIS has committed itself to abiding by the GAC principles, and its responsibilities under clause 9, as confirmed in a 9 October 2002 communication from the Sudan Internet Society (SIS) to the Secretary General of the Ministry of Information and Communication of the Government of the Republic of the Sudan. This reaffirms that SIS is committed to carrying out its responsibilities for ensuring the interests of the local Internet community are being served.
In the case of the .sd ccTLD, the Minister of Information and Communications has assumed, on behalf of his Ministry, these responsibilities within a framework of accountability, openness, and service to the local Internet community. In a letter from the Minister to ICANN, the Government of the Republic of the Sudan has committed to private-sector management of the .sd ccTLD while providing the Government with the ability to intervene should the private sector be unable to fulfill this function. The letter also recognizes the desirability of private-sector technical coordination of the Internet on a global scale, and affirms that the Sudan Government is committed to ICANN and “considers ICANN to be the appropriate international entity to oversee the technical coordination of the Internet in a manner that will preserve it as an effective and convenient mechanism for global communication and commerce."
According to the design described in its constitution, and the relevant communications, SIS is well-suited to be inclusive of, and accountable to, the Sudan Internet community and to operate through appropriate open, transparent, and inclusive processes.
The structure proposed by the Sudan Internet Society and endorsed by the Sudanese Government is to have the Sudan Internet Society undertake management of the .sd ccTLD under appropriate oversight of the Sudanese Government (concerning national public-policy interests) and ICANN (concerning global technical-coordination interests). This structure is consonant with the principle of private-sector responsibility for technical coordination under which the Internet has flourished. In reviewing the request and in light of (a) the Sudanese Government's endorsement of the Sudan Internet Society as the appropriate private-sector manager and (b) the Sudan Internet Society’s willingness to enter a sponsorship agreement embodying an appropriate framework of accountability, the IANA concludes that the Sudan Internet Society is the appropriate delegee of the .sd ccTLD.
One mechanism to reflect an appropriate framework of accountability is the arrangement embodied in the GAC Principles. Where, as here, the relevant government is prepared to carry out the ultimate responsibility for overseeing the ccTLD manager's service to the local Internet community and the manager is prepared to conduct itself within that framework, the interests of the local and global Internet communities are served by ICANN joining into that cooperative arrangement.
Two of the three parts of that arrangement–the Sudan Internet Society/Government and Government/ICANN communications–have already been implemented. Upon signing of the ICANN/Sudan Internet Society sponsorship agreement, which reflects the principles set forth in clause 10 of the GAC principles, adjusted as necessary to suit local circumstances, the .sd ccTLD should be redelgated to Sudan Internet Society.
1. The Sudan Internet Society is not affiliated with the worldwide Internet Society (ISOC), though it is currently seeking to become a local chapter of ISOC. The Sudan Internet Society is a non-profit, open membership society formally registered in Sudan. According to its stated mission, the organization " is dedicated to identifying and surfacing the potential effective and efficient applications of the Internet throughout the Sudanese community. It is to provide support and information on all Internet related-issues in Sudan to enable individuals, businesses, professionals, and organizations achieve their goals more effectively." Sudan Internet Society currently has more than 500 individual members.
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