According to IANA The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is tasked with managing the Domain Name System root zone as part of a set of functions governed by a contract with the US Government. Through an ICANN department known as the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), it receives requests for delegating and redelegating the operation of top-level domains. An investigation is performed on the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and, when appropriate, the requests are implemented. Decisions on whether to implement requests to delegate or redelegate top-level domains are made by the ICANN Board of Directors, taking into account ICANN’s core mission to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systems.
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 country-code top-level domains are assigned to responsible trustees (known as ‘Sponsoring Organisations’) who meet a number of established criteria for eligibility — largely relating to their level of support from their local Internet community, their capacity to ensure stable operation of the domain, and their applicability under any relevant local laws.
In accordance with this, a request was received for the redelegation of the .BY top-level domain on 23 July 2008. This domain is designated in the ISO 3166-1 standard for Belarus, a country in Eastern Europe with a population of approximately 9.6 million people.
The .BY top-level domain was initially delegated on 5 May 1994 to Open Contact Ltd (Russian: ÎÎÎ Îòêðûòûé êîíòàêò), an entity domiciled in Belarus.
In October 1999, a request was completed to change the Sponsoring Organisation, administrative and technical contacts to The State Centre of Security Information of Belarus.
In July 2000, a request was completed to change the technical contact for .BY to a representative of Open Contact. The State Centre of Security Information remains the Sponsoring Organisation and technical contact.
In July 2008, The State Centre of Security Information ceased to exist by decree of the President of Belarus. It was replaced by the Operative Analytical Centre. Based on the decree, all the rights and duties of the previous entity have been assumed by the Operative Analytical Centre.
The proposed redelegation requests that Open Contact Ltd be the designated Sponsoring Organisation for the .BY top-level domain. The Operative Analytical Center is designated as the administrative contact, as per a joint agreement between the two entities.
The evaluation of a delegation or redelegation request is guided by the practices summarised in:
“Domain Name System Structure and Delegation” (RFC 1591). This document describes IANA function practices relating to delegations at its publication in 1994.
“Internet Domain Name System Structure and Delegation” (ICP-1). This document represents an update of the portions of RFC 1591 dealing with ccTLDs and reflects subsequent evolution of the policies followed by ICANN through May 1999.
The ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee’s Principles for Delegation and Administration of ccTLDs (GAC Principles). This document serve as “best practices” to guide governments in assuming proper roles with respect to the Internet's naming system.
In considering the delegation or redelegation of a ccTLD, input is sought from both the requesting party as well as from persons and/or organizations that may be significantly affected by the change, particularly those within the nation or territory to which the ccTLD is designated. As noted in ICP-1, the parties affected include 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.”
Taking these factors into consideration, the burden required to permit a delegation action involves determining suitability in relation to the applicant’s capacity to meet the following criteria:
Operational and technical skills
The prospective manager has the requisite skills to operate the TLD appropriately. (ICP-1 §a, RFC 1591 §3.5)
There must be reliable, full-time IP connectivity to the nameservers and electronic mail connectivity to the operators; (ICP-1 §a; RFC 1591 §3.1)
The manager must perform its duties in assigning domains and operating nameservers with technical competence (ICP-1 §d; RFC 1591 §3.5)
Operator in country
The prospective manager supervises and operates the domain name from within the country represented by the TLD; (ICP-1 §a; RFC 1591 §3.1)
The prospective administrative contact must reside in the country represented by the TLD. (ICP-1 §a; RFC 1591 §3.1)
The prospective manager must be equitable and fair to all groups encompassed by the TLD that may request domain names (ICP-1 §c; RFC 1591 §3.3)
The prospective manager has the requisite authority to operate the TLD appropriately, with the desire of the government taken very seriously. (ICP-1 §a, GAC Principles)
Significantly interested parties in the domain should agree that the prospective manager is the appropriate party to receive the delegation (ICP-1 §a; RFC 1591 §3.4)
In meeting these criteria, information is requested from the applicant. 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 a change; the competencies and skills of the organisation to operate the registry; the legal authenticity, status and character of the proposed operator; and the nature of government support for the proposal. The view of the current operator is obtained, and in the event of a redelegation, the transfer plan from the previous operator to the new operator is also assessed with a view to ensuring ongoing stable operation of the domain.
After receiving these documents, the input received is analysed in relation to existing zone management procedures, seeking input from parties both related to as well as independent of the applying organization should the information provided by the applicant in their request be deficient.
Once all the documentation has been received, various technical checks are performed on the proposed operator’s DNS infrastructure to ensure name servers are properly configured and are able to respond to queries for the top-level domain being requested. Should any anomalies be detected in the applicant’s technical infrastructure, ICANN staff will work with the applicant to address the issues.
Assuming all issues are resolved, a report is compiled providing all relevant details regarding the applicant, its suitability for operating the top-level domain being requested, and any other information pertinent to the application and submit that report to ICANN’s Board of Directors for its determination on whether to proceed with the request.
This evaluation is being provided to the ICANN Board for consideration and decision, as part of 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 top-level domains, investigating the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and reporting on the requests.
The evaluation of the various criteria relating to the request are as follows:
Operational and technical skills
The proposed Sponsoring Organisation is currently the operator of .BY, and despite changes in stewardship of the domain, has remained the technical operator throughout this time. The organisation has provided descriptions of their operational and technical configuration.
Operator in country
The proposed sponsoring organisation and administrative contact is located within Belarus.
Fair and equitable treatment
The applicant has made undertakings that registrations will be performed on a basis that is fair and equitable.
The request is supported by the relevant government agency, which will retain a role as the administrative contact for the domain.
Community sentiment Letters of support for the redelegation were received from three different organisations that purport to represent community interests.
In its decision making process on accepting delegation and redelegation requests, ICANN respects the ability for a local Internet community as well as local law and local government to make decisions about the operation of a top-level domain.
In its research, staff believe that there are grounds for reassignment of the domain name under the relevant criteria.
It is therefore recommended that the .BY domain should be redelegated to Open Contact Ltd. as per their request.
Postscript: Board Resolution
On 3 February 2009, the Board of ICANN passed the following resolution:
Whereas, the .BY top-level domain is the designated country-code for Belarus.
Whereas, ICANN has received a request for redelegation of .BY to Open Contact Ltd.
Whereas, ICANN has reviewed the request, and has determined that the proposed redelegation would be in the best interest of the local and global Internet communities.
It is hereby resolved (2009-02-03-12), that the proposed redelegation of the .BY domain to Open Contact Ltd is approved.
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