Domain name coming home for Christmas?

Australia

A storm has been raging on Christmas Island over use of '.cx', a country code top-level domain (ccTLD).

In January last year the operation of '.cx' was to be transferred to Dot cx Ltd, a non-profit organization located on Christmas Island, from a London company that had been operating the ccTLD for several years. The transfer was touted as a significant development for the information economy on Christmas Island. However, problems arose for Dot cx Ltd when it sought approval for the transfer from the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which has responsibility for receiving, investigating and deciding re-delegation requests.

When it received the request from Dot cx Ltd, IANA sought the approval of the Australian government. The government blocked the transfer and sought to impose conditions on the re-delegation. After more than 18 months of wrangling, the transfer remains incomplete.

One might ask: 'Why did IANA seek the approval of the Australian government?' Christmas Island is a dependency of Australia and, while there are no set rules on how a re-delegation request should be assessed, IANA believes that the wishes of a territory's government should be given significant consideration. A fundamental principle of IANA's management of ccTLDs is to ensure that they are used for the benefit of the community in the nation or territory with which the country code is associated. This means that for overseas territories, IANA will seek the view of the sovereign nation and will give those views considerable weight.

Calm has now settled over Christmas Island as a temporary truce has been reached between Christmas Island, IANA and the Australian government. The government has provided its qualified support for Dot cx Ltd, and IANA has allowed it to run the '.cx' domain name service while the investigation continues. The saga still awaits its final chapter, however, leaving the Christmas Islanders wondering at the workings of the new economy.

Charles Schofield, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Sydney

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