Maintenance of essential .nz domain name data is being handicapped by international body Icann insisting that countries sign a contract which InternetNZ says would give Icann too much control.
Icann, or the Internet Committee for Assigned Names and Numbers, is trying to use any request from a national authority such as InternetNZ for a change in the Icann backup databases for national zones as an excuse to raise the question of countries signing up to Icann’s new standard terms of contract, says Peter Dengate-Thrush, head of InternetNZ’s international committee.
This contract, which very few national internet bodies have signed, “arrogates to Icann control over a lot of policy matters that we [country-code top-level domain authorities, or ccTLDs] think we should control”, says Dengate-Thrush. “This is souring relationships between ccTLDs and Icann and [its operational arm] IANA,” he says.
As part of the proposed new arrangements, Icann is requiring that it have access to national zone files – the database used to translate domain names to IP addresses – for all country-code top-level domains.
A crucial point in Icann’s new terms is expressed in a statement called ICP-1, which it wants to supersede the old guidelines, RFC1591, dealing with the necessity for a primary and secondary nameserver allocated to each address. A crucial added phrase in ICP-1 is “because of its responsibilities for the DNS, the IANA must be granted access to all TLD zones on a continuing basis.” This change is portrayed as an operational matter, says Dengate-Thrush, but it strays into the area of policy, and has not been through the approved policy-making process.
Centr, the organisation of European ccTLD bodies, says ICP-1 was never considered or approved by the ccTLD community and thus has not gained widespread support.
"Many ccTLDs only recognise RFC1591 as the authoritative document on ccTLD management.”
The transmission of sensitive information like a complete national internet database across national boundaries “raises all kinds of questions of privacy and copyright” and therefore definitely comes into policy territory, says Dengate-Thrush.
InternetNZ executive director Sue Leader confirms that there has been difficulty getting information changed, such as the addresses of the new name servers for the domain following the move to the new domain registry system (DRS). Icann is still sending correspondence to a physical address InternetNZ left about two years ago.
"Ever since Icann took over, they have been very slow to make any changes," Leader says. Originally, Icann had denied this was anything to do with InternetNZ and other ccTLDs refusing to sign the contract, says Leader, but about four weeks ago, they acknowledged this was the reason.
"The ccTLDs drafted contracts through a consensual process two years ago, and Icann is trying to override this with its own contract, that basically says 'you will pay what we say and do what we tell you'. We have a responsibility to our own internet communities, at minimum to our own governments, but most ccTLDs have interested communities considerably broader than that."