NameSpace registry proves controversial

South Africa

Leading local internet players have formed a new company - NameSpace - to oversee the allocation and administration of domain names in South Africa. The firm beat plans by the government's Communications Department to take over the administration process, previously administered by the company Uniforum.

The move was led by the Internet Society of South Africa (Isoc-ZA), which formed a drafting committee to discuss the most practical way for overseeing the country-code top-level domain '.za'.

While Isoc-ZA believes that the governance of domain names should be left to the private sector, the government does not. The government would prefer that an independent body of public and private sector representatives be established to administer the '.za' domain. As a result, the government has not only refused to nominate a board member to NameSpace, it is also drafting a bill that is expected to cover, among other things, domain name administration, access to infrastructure, taxation, data privacy, copyright, standards for electronic payment and the liability of internet service providers.

The controversy that has developed between Isoc-ZA and the government must be resolved soon if NameSpace is to be recognized by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers as the official domain name registrar in South Africa.

Pamela Stein, Cheadle Thompson & Haysom, Johannesburg

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