Contribution from Nabil
Permanent Representative of the Syrian
Administration to the ITU
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
National Telecommunications and Information
Docket No. 060519136-6136-01
The Continued Transition of the Technical
Coordination and Management of the Internet Domain Name and Addressing System
Available at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/frnotices/2006/NOI_DNS_Transition_0506.htm
Introduction and background
I thank the United States Department of Commerce
for conducting this consultation which I highly appreciate.
And this because there is at present a very
serious issue regarding Coordination and Management of the Internet Domain Name
and Addressing System: some countries, including my country Syria, at stated previously on many relevant occasions and formums, believe that the current system
is not consistent with their national sovereignty, and this because:
a) ICANN is a US entity under the jurisdiction, laws, and courts of the USA.
b) ICANN and its
subdivision IANA operate under formal agreement with the US government.
c) ICANN chooses gTLDs and
sets rules regarding prices, services, and dispute resolution with respect to
gTLDs, whereas this is a matter of interest to all countries.
d) ICANN determines who
operates a particular ccTLD, whereas this is supposed to be a national matter.
e) ICANN is ultimately
responsible for IP address allocation, a matter that is of interest to many
countries, and where historical imbalances have yet to be corrected (which is
not the case for the comparable addressing resources for other
authoritative root server is operated by a US company (Verisign) under a
contract with the US government.
g) Three root servers are
operated by agencies of the US government.
These departures from national
sovereignty have practical consequences, they are not just theoretical
problems. The practical consequences include among other things:
- The assignment of
an operator for a country code top level domain names such as “.iq” for Iraq can be tied in US courts for US domestic reasons.
- The process by which
a country re-assigns its ccTLD to a different operator is not purely a
- IP address
allocation is unbalanced, and favors Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in
certain countries who then use this to obtain favourable arrangements with
respect to Internet interconnections, to the disadvantage of developing
countries, as was clearly demonstrated through the preparatory phases of
recommendations from a body such as WIPO (concerning protection of country
names in the domain name system) are not implemented.
- Domain names such
as “.tel” or “.mobi” could be delegated to anybody, with unpredictable
consequences for the integrity of the E.164 numbering plan (contrary to ITU
Plenipotentiary Conference Resolution 133 adopted in 2002), if the
operator decides to implement its own variety of ENUM, ignoring relevant
IETF standards and ITU-T Recommendations.
- The US courts will decide to what and extent ICANN can or should regulate Versign, the operator
of “.com”, with respect to new services.
- Unilateral changes
can be made to the rules regarding the domain name “.int”, even though
that domain name is reserved for intergovernmental organizations.
E-Mail is suffering, because of spam, and
electronic commerce will soon follow, unless solutions are found to phishing
and such. These problems are due to insufficient security and insufficient
security is due to the fact that governments did not require adequate security,
unlike the situation with respect to other telecommunications technologies, in
which governments were properly involved in order to ensure that the public
interest is well protected (for example, by requirements for security, quality
of service, emergency services, legal intercept, etc. which apply to equipment
and operations). The private sector will provide only the level of security
that it needs for its own purposes, which is typically less than the level
needed for public safety.
It has been proposed that ICANN’s
Government Advisory Committee (GAC) could be a way to address some, if not all,
of these issues. Syria is not convinced that this is the case, for many
reasons, including the fact that it is absurd to embed a strong government
structure within a private sector company. Those who believe in private sector
leadership surely cannot argue in favour of a strong GAC. But a weak, purely
advisory, GAC cannot handle the issues outlined above.
As a way forward, Syria proposes that DoC should implement the spit of responsibilities outlined below.
1. Administration of Internet names and IP addresses
1.1 Country code top level domain names
At present, the authoritative source of the
correspondence between country code top level domain names (ccTLDs) and the
organization operating the ccTLD is maintained in the so-called “hidden” root
server operated by Verisign under an agreement with the US Department of
Commerce (DoC). Changes to the entries in the “hidden” root server are
proposed by the Internet Assigned Names Authority (IANA), a unit of the
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), approved by DoC,
implemented by Verisign, and then automatically replicated to the 13 root
servers and their various slaves and copies around the world. IANA/ICANN has
its own consultative processes for approving changes prior to submission to
DoC, involving various concerned constituencies. (See Annex A below.)
This arrangement is not consistent with national
sovereignty (for some countries), in that a sovereign country who wishes to
change the operator of its national ccTLD must first agree the change with IANA
(a unit of a US corporation), and then wait until it is approved by DoC and
implemented by Versisign (also a US corporation).
Given the differing views on this topic ITU
should maintain, at the request of specific countries, and as early as
possible, the list of authoritative ccTLD operators for those specific
countries. The operator of the “hidden” root server should rely on the list
published by ITU for those specific countries and this should be recorded in a
formal agreement between the US government and the ITU and/or the operator in
question (Verisign) and the ITU. The mechanisms for ITU’s maintaining such a
list should be specified in an appropriate Resolution and/or a Recommendation;
pending approval of such a Resolution or a Recommendation, an interim procedure
should be used. Other countries may continue to rely on the present
1.2 IP address allocation
At present, IP addresses are allocated to
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and large end-users by regional
private-sector organizations called Regional Internet Registries (RIRs). RIRs
sub-allocate addresses to Local Internet Registries (LIRs). There are no
“hard” geographic constraints, in that any organization can request addresses
from any RIR, independently of its geographic location.
The current arrangement is an evolution of a
historical allocation scheme that had not been designed to cope with the
commercial growth of the Internet and that had resulted in what are widely
considered to be sub-optimal allocations (for example, excessively large blocks
of addresses allocated to early adopters. Some administrations believe that
the historical allocation favors large ISPs in developed countries, who use
this (in addition to other factors) to negotiate Internet interconnection
agreements that are not related to costs and that result is a net transfer of
revenue from developing countries to developed countries.
In the future, a portion of the IP version 6
address space should be reserved for allocation by national authorities, thus
allowing small national operators to obtain addresses at low cost from a public
national source. We recognize that it has been stated that any such national
allocation scheme might result in excessive growth of routing tables and
eventually create significant technical problems that could adversely affect
inter-operability, but these statements should be validated by parties who are
not financially implicated in the current allocation system..
ITU should explore, in conjunction with other
relevant bodies, in particular the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), the
issues and find a solution that would address all the concerns that have been
1.3 Generic and Special top-level domain names
Generic top level domain names (gTLD) are those
such as “.com” that are used generically. Sponsored top-level domain names
(sTLD) are those that have a special purpose such as “.aero”.
At present, ICANN develops the rules for
allocating new gTLDs and sTLDs, chooses the operators for gTLDs and sTLDs, and
sets the rules (including fees paid to ICANN, wholesale prices, service
limitations, etc.) that apply to operators of gTLDs and sTLDs.
All gTLDs and sTLDs are of interest to all
countries. Furthermore, in certain cases, some proposed new sTLDs would appear
to have a potential to interact with telecommunication technologies that have
been subject to national regulation and to international coordination through
ITU, for example “.mobi” and “.tel”, for example by using ITU-T Recommendation
E.164 numbers in conjunction with Internet domain names.
ITU should be involved, for the time being, in
conjunction with a reformed ICANN (if any) and other relevant bodies, in the
approval of the rules related to gTLDs and sTLDs, in particular for what
concerns multilingual top-level domain names (this is, use of IDN for gTLDs).
1.4 Administration of root server system
At present, there are 13 root servers, each
independently operated. Each of these 13 systems has various slaves or
duplicate copies around the world. Each of these 13 systems obtains its data
from an authoritative source, called the “hidden” root server. The “hidden”
root server is operated by Verisign under an agreement with the US Department
of Commerce (DoC). Changes to the entries in the “hidden” server are made only
with the approval of DoC. Three of the servers are operated by agencies of the
US government. This is not consistent with national sovereignty.
There are various options that could be
considered in order to change the current arrangement. Some of those options involving
ITU are shown graphically in Annex B of this paper.
In particular, ITU should act as repository for
a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) formalizing agreements between concerned
parties with respect to administration of the root server system, which parties
might include those governments, who wish to be involved in the administration
of such systems.
2. Responses to specific questions posed by NTIA
This section contains my responses to the
specific questions posed by NTIA.
2.1 Are the White Paper principles still relevant?
Partly. The principles of stability;
competition; private, bottom-up coordination; and representation are relevant
(as they have always been throughout the history of telecommunications). But
it should be noted that ICANN has failed on all counts, because:
a) There is insufficient
competition for gTLDs and for IP address allocation;
b) ICANN is hardly a model
of private-sector leadership, given the heavy influence of the US government;
c) It has been stated by
others that ICANN at times overrides bottom-up consensus views;
d) Many key stakeholders
are not represented (see 2.4 below).
Further, the above principles must be
supplemented by the principles agreed in WSIS, namely:
1) The Internet
has evolved into a global facility available to the public and its governance
should constitute a core issue of the Information Society agenda. The
international management of the Internet should be multilateral, transparent
and democratic, with the full involvement of governments, the private sector,
civil society and international organizations. It should ensure an equitable
distribution of resources, facilitate access for all and ensure a stable and
secure functioning of the Internet, taking into account multilingualism. (Geneva Declaration of Principles, 48). This means, among other things, that new
methods must be found to ensure equitable allocation of IP addresses.
management of the Internet encompasses both technical and public policy issues
and should involve all stakeholders and relevant intergovernmental and
international organizations. In this respect it is recognized that: (Geneva Declaration of Principles, 49)
Policy authority for Internet-related public
policy issues is the sovereign right of States. They have rights and
responsibilities for international Internet-related public policy issues;
The private sector has had and should continue
to have an important role in the development of the Internet, both in the
technical and economic fields;
Civil society has also played an important role
on Internet matters, especially at community level, and should continue to play
such a role;
Intergovernmental organizations have had and
should continue to have a facilitating role in the coordination of
Internet-related public policy issues;
International organizations have also had and
should continue to have an important role in the development of
Internet-related technical standards and relevant policies.
3) Countries should not be
involved in decisions regarding another country’s ccTLD. (Tunis Agenda,
53). This means that no US entity, whether government or private sector,
should be involved in decisions regarding non-US ccTLDs.
2.2 Has ICANN achieved sufficient progress?
No. As noted in the introduction above, ICANN lacks
legitimacy, in particular concerning ccTLD management and IP address
allocation. The only transition that could be envisaged at present is the
implementation of a new cooperation model between ICANN and ITU as proposed in
section 1 above.
2.3 Should new or revised tasks/methods be considered in order for
the transition to occur?
Yes. A new cooperation model and split of
responsibilities proposed in section 1 above should be considered.
2.4 Stakeholder participation
As noted in section 1 above, participation by
the governments of many countries is at present totally inadequate, and in fact
impossible under the current structure. The same is true with respect to
participation by private sector operators and civil society from many
Greater involvement from these stakeholders, who
are essential for the future growth of the Internet, could be facilitated by
adopting the new cooperation model and split of responsibilities proposed in
section 1 above.
2.5 Supporting organizations
Same answer as for 2.4 above.
2.6 ccTLD issues
See 1.1 above.
2.7 Enhanced cooperation
The new cooperation model and split of
responsibilities outlined in section 1 above should be implemented.
Annex A: Relations amongst various DNS administration bodies
Administration of the Internet Domain Name
System (DNS) comprises two types of activities: agreeing policies for the
assignment of certain resources, and administering a database or other record
of the assignments made. We will refer to these two different activities as
the Policy Function (PF) and the Administration Function (AF).
The resources in question are entries in the
source (or master) root file (RF), IP addresses (IP), and protocol parameters
In addition, administration of the DNS comprises
developing policies related to operation of root servers (RS) and
administration of those policies (that is, ensuring that the actual operations
are carried out in accordance with the agreed policies).
And it comprises developing policies related to
the operation of gTLDs and ccTLDs and administration of those policies.
In the figures that follow, NRO refers to
Numbering Resource Organization, which comprises the Regional Internet
Figures A.1 and A.2 represent the present
relations amongst various bodies.
Annex B: Possible alternatives for Relations amongst various DNS
Figure B.1 shows the proposed alternative to the