Comments on ccTLD sunset
1. Should IANA adhere to the ISO-3166 standard and remove top-level domains from the DNS root that become transitionally reserved (i.e. retired)?
Domains should never be removed from the DNS root as long as they are actively used, i.e. as long as there are names registered under that domain.
The domains belong to the persons or organisations who registered them. Closing down a domain can be seen as an expropriation. (Taking away property or something resembling property is unfair and also extremly unpopular.) It also suddenly renders all addresses -- URLs, mailboxes, etc. -- invalid.
Instead of removal, the domain should enter a "phase out" state in which no new registrations are allowed. To determine who gets to run the domain in phase-out, one has to draw a distinction between the following four cases:
* A country simply gets a new country code (e.g. TP to TL) or multiple countries merge into one, i.e. there is a single country to which the old code relates. The registry managing the old code should be appointed by the government of that country (see below).
* A country splits into multiple countries (e.g. CS to RS, ME), i.e. there are multiple countries to which the old code relates. The registry managing the old code should be jointly appointed by the new countries, preferably using a RFP process similar to ICANN's. If the countries can't reach an agreement, ICANN should take over the ccTLD and issue the RFP instead. (The later is probably what should happen with YU and SU.)
* A country gains independence, while the old code is still retained by the main country (e.g. ID => ID, TP/TL). An arrangement should be made so that users in the new country can keep their domain. Unfortunatly, it's unlikely that this can always be enforced.
* A code is reassigned to a new country (e.g. CS from Czechoslowakia to Serbia and Montenegro). The government of the new country appoints the registry BUT must guarantee that current domain owners are able to keep their domains. They could simply keep the registry operator and/ or allow registrars from the old country. ICANN should only re- delegate the domain if a suitable agreement can be reached. (Note that most ccTLDs allow registrations from everywhere around the globe anyway.) Well, with the current ISO policy of not reusing a code for 50 years, this can not happen before 2057.
5. What pre-emptive right, if any, should existing operators have toward a new code that covers an area previously serviced (in whole, or in part) by another code?
This should be determined by the government of the country to which the new code has been assigned.
In general, the government of a new country should issue a request for proposals while the government of a renamed country might simply appoint the current operator of the old code.
The new registry might also give owners of domains under the old TLD priority to the same name under the new TLD during a sunrise period.
6. In the event there is more than one code for a particular country available for its use (e.g. GB and UK), what policy should govern their status?
The old code should be set to the "phase out" state, i.e. no new registrations should be possible (see above).
The only country that has had multiple codes for a prolonged time is the United Kingdom. However, only the exceptionally reserved code "UK" has been in general use. While ISO 3166 would mandate a change to "GB" (i.e. to phase out "UK"), this seems impractical due to the vast number of domains already registered in this TLD. Such a move it would permanently divide the country's domain space into "old" (or "established") and
"new" domains. This is not such a problem if the code change is driven by political changes such as split-ups of countries, revolutions, etc.
So the "UK" code should be kept as a special exception and "GB" should be put in the phase-out state (in which it more or less already is).