Comments from Nominet
On behalf of Nominet UK, the country code Top Level Domain registry for . uk, I would like to thank ICANN for the opportunity to comment on the discussion paper on retiring country code top level domains (ccTLDs). This issue is a challenging one, mostly because of the invariably political nature of changes to the names of countries and the break up of countries into states or the formation of new states within countries. The system for retiring country codes envisioned within the ISO-3166 process could cause security and stability difficulties as applied to the domain name system. For example, for a transitional reservation, the ISO instructions are stop using as soon as possible. In our view, an orderly and realistic transitional period is necessary in order to maintain the stability of the domain name system. In formulating our response to the discussion paper, we have found it helpful to re-visit the paper presented by the Governmental Advisory Committee of ICANN of April 2005 ? Principles and Guidelines for the Delegation and Administration of Country Code Top Level Domains. For ease of reference in this response, the paper is referred to as the GAC principles. The GAC principles laid down some guidelines relating to delegations and re-delegations of ccTLDs and it is our view that these should be developed in order to also apply to the retirement of ccTLDs. The key principle, in our view, is that of subsidiarity. This is reflected in section 7.1 of the GAC Principles which states: Delegation and re-delegation is a national issue and should be resolved nationally and in accordance with national laws, taking into account the views of all local stakeholders and the rights of the existing ccTLD Registry. Once a final formal decision has been reached, ICANN should act promptly to initiate the process of delegation or re-delegation in line with authoritative instructions showing the basis for the decision. We note the point that there are situations where a code no longer aligns to a present day country. However, we do not agree with your conclusion that it is then unclear which government and law has jurisdiction. To take the examples of .su and .yu which were mentioned, it simply means that the number of stakeholders (including governments) who would have a direct interest is increased. It does not alter the principle that the relevant decisions should be made locally. Bearing the above in mind, we would suggest that the issue of whether a particular ccTLD should be retired should be consulted upon within the local community in the country associated with the country code, and this includes the national government. This consultation should also include any current registrants within the ccTLD, with a view to developing consensus and, if appropriate, any relevant transitional arrangements. Where there are no further registrations, there will be increasing economic pressure on the registry to close the TLD down, but while there are active domain names within the TLD, there will be a need for address resolution and maintenance of the zone file. Retirement of a ccTLD from the IANA database should then only take place after such consultations and transitional arrangements have concluded. At that time, IANA should receive an authoritative request that has the support of the relevant local Internet community and registrants and is in line with national law. We therefore make the following responses to the guiding questions: Question 1: Should IANA adhere to the ISO-3166 Standard and remove top-level domains from the DNS root that become traditionally reserved (ie retired)? The ISO-3166 Standard is the foundation of the ccTLD framework and should remain so. However, no removal from the IANA database should take place unless and until IANA receives an authoritative request to do so. This is because the consequence of deletion is that the TLD will fail to resolve, which could impact the security and stability of the Internet. Question 2: If so, by what process should this be conducted? Normal IANA processes for acting on the receipt of an authoritative request should be followed. Question 3: What implementation timeframes for removal should be specified? The examples listed in your paper show that these are minority cases, each of which has their own particular circumstances. Because of this, no special implementation timeframes should apply, but best practice would suggest that registrants in any retiring ccTLD should be offered a mutually agreeable and reasonable time period to transfer to another TLD. During any transitional period, it would be assumed that the registry would remain, and would maintain the existing zone file, but would not accept new registrations. Question 4: If removal is test-based, what specific milestones should signify removal from the root zone? N/A Question 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 viewed as similar to a re-delegation under the GAC principles, i.e. a national issue, which should be resolved nationally and in accordance with national laws, taking into account the views of all local stakeholders and the rights of the registry operator. Question 6: In the event there is more than one code for a particular country available for its use (eg GB and UK), what policy should govern their status? In the case of the United Kingdom, it is our understanding that there was an election to use the exceptionally reserved code of UK as our primary ccTLD. Our understanding is that the request was made by the local internet community on the basis that the .gb code would be retired. Although it has been closed to new registrations for some years, .gb still has some active domain names, which require ongoing resolution. Under the ISO-3166 system, UK is exceptionally reserved, meaning that it is required to support a particular application [for example, the domain name system]. There is no question of either UK or GB being retired as ISO codes relating to the United Kingdom, neither is there any question of making either code available for any other geographical territory. Therefore, no action is required by IANA. In future, we would suggest that any similar requests should also cover the decision of the local internet community regarding the continuance or retirement of the other code, and relevant transitional arrangements.