From Thu Jan 15 09:45:06 2004
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 2004 08:00:07 -0600 (CST)
From: Bob Corbett <>
To: Haiti mailing list <>
Subject: 17938: Reid: Haiti rewarded with control over own internet domain name (fwd)

From: Ralph Reid <>

Haiti kisses ICANN ring, rewarded with control over own domain

By Kieren McCarthy, 14 January 2004 21:52 GMT

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In Geneva recently, the world’s governments got together in the first ever meeting dedicated to discussing the effect of the Internet on the world.

It very nearly fell apart after a huge split over who should be running the Net—the semi-autonomous private Californian company still beholden to the US government, ICANN, or the international standards body responsible for telecommunications across the globe, ITU.

The arguments were complex and the issue cleverly put on the backburner. But if there is one point that the committee set up to debate the issue and report back next year ought to focus on it is the issue of the redelegation of country code top-level domains.

This issue—where the overall control of all the domains for a particular country (like .uk for Great Britain or .de for Germany) is given to a completely different entity—is really a microcosm of what is happening across the entire Internet and raises points that simply cannot be ignored. And as luck would have it, another one has just popped up.

Enter Haiti

Control over the entire .ht domain, representing the Caribbean island of Haiti, is to be given to the government-supported consortium FDS/RDDH. The existing owner, Hintelfocus, is said to be happy with this arrangement. And so it shall be done.

On the surface, there is nothing wrong with this. In the early days of the Internet, few people had the know-how to run a country’s registry so control of them was handed out by Jon Postel personally to individuals he felt could be trusted to do a good job. It was inevitable that as the Net grew, these individuals would be replaced by big companies and that the country’s government would take a great interest in who was running its domain names.

In fact, it is reasonable to assume that a government would have final say over who ran its domain names. They do represent the country and the government are the people that run the country. ICANN agrees. In general. This is what the private company based in California reckons about the world having control of its own domains: In general, [we] 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 longer or shorter of it is that countries have been held to ransom by ICANN over their own domain names until they agree to ICANN’s terms. And those terms are always that the government swears loyalty to ICANN. And signs a contract to that effect.

The Haiti government indicated back in May 2002 that it wanted FDS/RDDH to take over its .ht domain. Yet it has taken nearly two years for this to happen. The redelegation of the .af domain for Afghanistan took just three weeks. Three weeks after the US had invaded and taken over the country.

Why the discrepancy? Almost certainly because the Haiti government refused to agree to ICANN’s terms. But once it realised that ICANN can stall any redelegation forever and that ICANN was almost certainly going to survive as Internet overseer, it had no choice but to acquiesce.