Uganda Government Moves Towards Top-Level Domain Management 06/10/2014 by Hillary Muheebwa for Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Use of the internet continues to grow rapidly in Uganda. The Uganda Communications Commission’s quarterly report reveals that the country had over eight million internet users by the end of the first quarter of 2014. Now, the government of Uganda is involved in a struggle over who should have the custodial rights to manage the .ug domain, the country’s Country Code Top-Level Domain, (ccTLD), which is currently run by a third party. The domain is currently managed by a privately owned company, Infinity Computers and Communication Company, (i3C). This management includes the setting of policies on: domain usage, technical and administrative functions of the ccTLD, domain registrar and sponsor. According to Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa, CIPESA, “upon application in 1995, i3C received approval for management of the .ug domain from the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, (IANA). The company’s head, Charles Musisi, was designated as the administrative contact for the domain and he remains so up to now.” At the time, there was no national body in charge of regulating or guiding the ICT sector in Uganda. The two bodies were created later. The Uganda Communications Commission for regulating was founded in 1997. The National Information Technology Authority – Uganda was formed in 2009. If such bodies had been in place by 1995 and had the technical ability to administer the domain, there could have been a possibility for them to get the delegation before Uganda Online, on whose behalf i3C manages the domain. According to Kyle Spencer, a technology for development specialist, IANA has allocated management of these domains on a first-come first-served basis as long as the first applicant shows technical and administrative capability. The Uganda government has been trying to take over management of the .ug domain for many years. The government policy statement, titled “Policy Framework for Management Of .ug Country Code Top Level Domain,” states: “As ccTLDs become increasingly important, national governments are beginning to assert control over the administration of their ccTLDs. It is very ideal that Uganda joins the rest of the world and takes control of its ccTLD.” Due to the design of the domain name system, IANA is responsible for delegating management authority for all ccTLDs worldwide. IANA is part of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, the US not-for-profit corporation responsible for global co-ordination of the internet domain name system. IANA has an established procedure for handling complaints related to ccTLD management issues. This procedure requires that the complainant prove certain conditions exist in order to trigger a re-delegation. These conditions include mismanagement, abuse of a dominant market position, or community discontent. This is done while demonstrating string eligibility, technical and administrative competency, a stable transfer plan, consent from involved parties, and that the request serves the local internet community’s interest. The request form should also demonstrate government review and consideration, including a statement of support or non-objection from an authorised representative of the government. The government was unable to prove any of these conditions exist, with regard to i3C. Under the IANA delegation/re-delegation requirements, there needs to be consent from the current management of the ccTLD to re-delegate. i3C has so far not given the consent. According to Reinier Battenberg, an information technology architecture specialist, “It is impossible to ‘take over’ a top level domain, unless the procedures of IANA are followed. These are international agreements, not Ugandan laws that need to be adhered to. There are several Ugandan organisations and individuals that regularly attend internet governance forums and thus contribute to the correct management of the Web we want. There is no government in charge of the internet.” Ugandan parliamentarians are not convinced. “We cannot afford to leave our domain in private hands when there are criminals in nearly 200 countries lurking online – plotting large-scale attacks as well as smaller attacks aimed at stealing personal information from unsuspecting citizens’ home computers,” argued Parliament Member Xavier Kyooma, during a recent parliamentary committee meeting. Reinier differs. “Internet security is not a government responsibility per se. In fact, the last years we have seen numerous examples where the threats to internet security were governments. It is up to the internet governance institutions to deal with these issues. And government has always been a part of this.” There are different types of domain names: generic top level domains (gTLD), country code top level domains (ccTLD) and second level domain names which can be provided either under a ccTLD or gTLD. “In the complete list of all top level domains in the world, there are several other countries where the country top level domain is held by a private or non-government organisation,” Reinier adds. James Saaka, executive director of National Information Technology Authority, said as technology has evolved, i3C has helped the government to run the domain. “They have done a good job, we cannot just disregard them. We can only discuss with them to see how we can own the domain,” he said. “At the minimum, there should be a public-private partnership so that government can be held accountable on matters of cyber security,” adds Vincent Bagiire, chairman of the Information and Communication Technology parliamentary committee. “I think the only thing that would be really great is if the price of the .ug domain would come down, so more organisations can start using the .ug domain.” Said Reiner. CIPESA agrees to this, stating that “the cost for registering the .ug domain is very expensive, with a minimal $30 compared to other gTLDs like .org, .com, .net, which cost a minimum of $10. So many Ugandans would rather go for the gTLDs which go for a minimum of $10 than the minimum $30 for .ug”. CIPESA argues that, “given the current approach by government with the development of the ccTLD policy and the ongoing public consultations, government stands a chance to win the re-delegation process should they re-submit to IANA.” In a document titled, “Policy, Business, Technical and Operational Considerations for the Management of a country code Top Level Domain,” from the UN International Telecommunication Union, it states that, “while it is obviously important for a government to have sovereignty over its ccTLD, this should be placed in the overall context of the administration’s wider public policy goals as well as its ambitions for Internet usage.” Image Credits: globalgiving.org Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Hillary Muheebwa may be reached at email@example.com."Uganda Government Moves Towards Top-Level Domain Management" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.