CCK set to duel with IANA/ICANN over .ke closure plans

Few weeks ago, I got information that KENIC, the .ke registry was set to be wound up or sold. The first reaction was that the person was joking, given that KENIC is a multi stakeholder body, and it was not in debt.

When I think of a multistakeholder body, I think of the coffee society or the cattle dip. How can anyone sell? The place can go broke but how can anyone sell? It belongs to the community.

Upon investigations, the information was right. The communications commission is intending to break it up and sell to the highest bidder. I wrote a news item to that effect and you can read it here.

The upshot of it that CCK sees itself as the real owner of the .ke domain together with TESPOK,  the Telecommunications Service Provider Association. Apparently the power vests it both of them.

There is no question that the .ke domain has gone to the dogs, you have to look at yesterday’s Africa Domain awards, South Africa and Tanzania reigned supreme, Kenya is nowhere to be seen or heard. Tanzania came to Kenya in 2005 and studied the model for running their .tz ccTLD. Now they have perfected the model and are runners up to South Africa. How now?

Think, KENIC has 28,000 domains, selling @ $35 how much is that? Even if they were to sell the domains @ $10 that is still $ 280,000 and they don’t pay rent.  Yet the board insisted on firing competent guys by slashing their salaries and replaced them with….well…. if the frequent outages is anything to go by….you know what it means.

To some extent I think CCK is right in wanting to reduce the cost of domains and reign on the errant board (the things I have heard, if I wrote I would be accused of malice, well, maybe I am already being accused but hey..). Maybe the folks at CCK want more secure and affordable domain but it this the best way to go?

There is a small problem that is IANA, the ICANN organ charged with management of the whole internet and ensuring it remains stable and end users are not affected. What happens if the tender goes to a company that has no experience in running a registry and in the process switches off wanjiku.co.ke? What will happen if the company decides to hell with $35 and charges $100?

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So, what/who is IANA?

“The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions contract (SA1301-12-CN-0035) between ICANN and the United States Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) to maintain the continuity and stability of services related to certain interdependent Internet technical management functions, known collectively as the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority calls for a public consultation from all interested and affected parties to help satisfy the following objective:

C.2.8 Performance Standards — Within six (6) months of award, the Contractor shall develop performance standards, in collaboration with all interested and affected parties as enumerated in Section C.1.3, for each of the IANA functions as set forth at C.2.9 to C.2.9.4 and post via a website.”

As you can see from the excerpt from the IANA website, it is tasked by the US government to ensure that we all adhere to the rules. The IANA function is then contracted to ICANN. You can read more about it in an article I did sometimes back.

It is funny that CCK thought that the Kenyan law overrides the US law and that the enactment of the Kenya Information and Communications Act would keep away the requirements from IANA/ICANN.

For any change in the administrative or technical contact, IANA must be involved in a process known as redelegation. This is what IANA says:

“The process for changing the designated manager(s) of a ccTLD is known as redelegation.”

What would be the processes for .ke delegation or redelegation?

“The steps for delegation and redelegation involve preparation of an initial request via a Change Request Template. In addition to the Change Request Template, supplementary information is required to show that the request meets the eligibility criteria. ICANN uses this information to corroborate the delegation or redelegation request. This documentation includes:

  • Information showing the request serves the local interest in the country;
  • Documentation demonstrating the technical and administrative capabilities of the organization receiving the delegation;
  • A description of the legal status of the organization;
  • The names of contacts in any in-country government agencies who have a say in the delegation/redelegation;
  • A detailed description of how existing ccTLD operations will be transferred to the proposed new operator, in the case of a redelegation;
  • Documentation showing that the new operator will operate the domain in a fair and equitable manner; and,
  • The approvals of the current contacts for the TLD, in the case of a redelegation.”

 

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How long does this process take?

The shortest time the process can take, and that is assuming there are no objections is 9 months. If anyone objects, then it can take years. Is this what we want? You can read about basics of redelegation here.

How was KENIC formed anyway?

I have taken time to go through the redelegation notes and here is an except:

“In May 2000, a group of Kenyan Internet stakeholders launched an initiative to form a participatory, community-based non-profit organization located in Kenya to manage both the administrative and technical aspects of the .ke ccTLD registry. Since October 2001, there have been broad-based consultations and research led by the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), with the participation of stakeholders including the Telecommunications Service Providers Association of Kenya (TESPOK), the East Africa Internet Association (EAIA), Kenya Information Society (KIS), Kenya Education Network (KENET), the Computer Society of Kenya, the Institute of Computer Science, the Kenya Health Information Network, the Network Operators Association, Telkom Kenya, the Kenyan government’s Directorate of Information Technology Services, and the National Task Force on Electronic Commerce (NTF-ecom).

The result of these consultations was the Kenya Network Information Center, Limited (KENIC), organized under Kenyan law as a company limited by guarantee (a not-for-profit entity). In addition to performing the technical, administrative, and policy-setting functions for the .ke registry, a stated objective of KENIC is to “promote, manage and operate the delegated .ke ccTLD in the interest of the Kenyan Internet community and being mindful of the global Internet community interest in consistent with ICANN policies.”

Through the KENIC website, open mailing lists, Steering Committee and other organizational meetings, and public forums, the KENIC organizers undertook to develop technical and administrative plans, and to take input from and build support within the Kenyan Internet community. By mid-2002, the KENIC organizers has completed KENIC’s Memorandum & Articles of Association, and prepared and circulated for review and comment a draft annual budget for registry operations and a draft set of registration and administrative policies. Through the Computer Society of Kenya, an open membership organization, the organizers undertook a public awareness campaign aimed at increasing the involvement of individual and organizational Internet users in KENIC.”

You can read the whole redelegation report here. This was a protracted tussle, starting with Shem Ochuodho refusing to hand over .ke management to a more inclusive body. It makes very interesting reading.

Maybe we should explore which registry operations work and why. Before Kenya ICT community adopted this model, they had conversations with registry operators from Brazil and Australia and settled on a multistakeholder that includes all sectors.

What changed?