Controversial bill suggests government take control of '.za'

South Africa

A bill has been tabled before Parliament that, if enacted, will establish a new domain name authority responsible for administering the '.za' top-level county-code domain (ccTLD). The Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill also provides that "the state will be the only member and shareholder of the agency". Responsibility for '.za' will be transferred from Namespace ZA, a non-profit organization, to the Department of Communications.

Critics of the government's proposal to assume unilateral control of the ccTLD argue that both private and public organizations should be involved in the establishment of an independent organization (such as Namespace ZA) to manage the ccTLD undisturbed. They fear that under the government's plan, government employees with insufficient technical expertise will be given too much authority, and not enough resources will be allocated to the development of the namespace.

The Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill is a 100-page document that would also grant legal recognition to digital signatures, provide new consumer protections for e-commerce transactions, and criminalize several types of cybercrime.

Daniel Greenberg, DM Kisch Inc, Sandton

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