MOVE BY AMERICAN SAMOA TO OBTAIN 'DOT-AS' DOMAIN NAME REJECTED

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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (March 3, 2000 – Radio Australia)---The global organization which assigns Internet suffixes has rejected a bid by American Samoa to take control of the territory’s domain name, ".as".

Radio Australia Pacific correspondent Kevin McQuillan reports that the decision will impact on moves by other countries to nationalize their Internet suffixes.

"American Samoa's suffix, "dot-as", was granted to Joseph Matua in 1997, with no objections from the government, which now wants ownership and any income the suffix generates.

This week, the government asked the global Internet governance organization, ICANN, to give it control of the suffix.

"Mr. Matua strongly objected, pointing out he has provided free websites for the government, parliament, judiciary and schools, as well as a free chat line for Samoans across the world.

ICANN has now rejected the government's application, saying it has no reason to re-delegate the suffix.

A legal officer has told the government that the Internet is a private sector activity and has advised both sides to resolve the dispute by negotiation.

Earlier this week, the Niue government passed legislation to nationalize that country's ".nu" suffix.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

"THE INTERNET IS A PRIVATE-SECTOR ACTIVITY," OFFICIAL SAYS

By Lewis Wolman

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (February 29, 2000 – Samoa News)---Getting "dot-as" under the wing of the American Samoa Government may be even harder then getting a commemorative stamp for American Samoa.

American Samoa has formally notified the Internet governing bodies, IANA and ICANN, that it wishes to have the "dot-as" country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) reassigned to the American Samoa Government.

At the request of the Fono, Governor Tauese Sunia wrote a letter to ICANN on February 21.

A response was received yesterday from ICANN's top lawyer (see full text below) which throws some cold water on our hot passions for authority over the domain name and possession of the revenues derived from it in the past, present and future.

"The Internet is a private sector activity," wrote General Counsel Louis Touton, "and while the IANA welcomes governmental viewpoints when they are offered, none were offered in the case of 'dot-as’."

Now that ASG has spoken up, Touton advises that "any parties disputing the propriety of an existing delegation are required to engage in extensive efforts to carefully and thoroughly discuss their dispute and proceed in good faith to resolve their dispute by agreement."

In simpler English: ASG must hash this out with Joseph Matua and his company, American Samoa Domain Registry, before seeking assistance from ICANN.

"At the present time," Touton wrote disapprovingly, the IANA is not aware that the government has made efforts to discuss the matter with (Joseph) Matua, or that he was even invited to present his views at the recent Fono hearings."

The e-mail also suggests that American Samoa should not take too much encouragement from the recent decision to redelegate the ".pn" ccTLD to the Pitcairn Islanders.

He said the action was taken only after two years of discussions, and after the Islanders "presented an extraordinarily strong case for redelegation (essentially every resident of the island signed a petition requesting redelegation)."

Matua has reportedly retained legal counsel to advise him, and has failed to respond to e-mails from Samoa News requesting information or comment.

The following letter was received late yesterday afternoon, via e-mail. It was sent to lawyers working for the Governor's Office (Henry Kappel) and the Fono (Christa Lin).

It was written by Louis Touton, an IANA official and head lawyer for ICANN.

Dear Ms. Lin and Mr. Kappel:

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) has received a letter from Governor Tauese P.F. Sunia and an e-mail message from Ms. Lin on behalf of the Fono. Both inquire about the original delegation and possible redelegation of the ".as" top-level domain.

In response to your questions regarding the original delegation of the .as top-level domain:

1. The domain was originally delegated on June 12, 1997, to Joseph Matua as administrative contact, with the named organization being "AS Domain Registry" in Pago Pago.

2. The original technical contact was Net Names Ltd of London, UK. The technical contact is generally responsible for operating the name service for a domain according to policies established by the administrative contact. In early 1999, Mr. Matua became dissatisfied with the technical service provided by NetNames and entered a new service agreement, this time with GDNS of New York City.

3. At no time in the delegation process did the IANA ever receive any communications from any official of the American Samoa government. The Internet is a private-sector activity and, while the IANA welcomes governmental viewpoints when they are offered, none were offered in the case of ".as".

In response to your questions regarding the possibility of a change in delegation of .as:

1. The currently applicable policies concerning delegation and redelegation matters are set forth in ICP-1, entitled "Internet Domain Name System Structure and Delegation" (May 1999) and available at http://www.icann.org/icp/icp-1.htm

2. Under that policy, any parties disputing the propriety of an existing delegation are required to engage in extensive efforts to carefully and thoroughly discuss their dispute and proceed in good faith to resolve their dispute by agreement. As stated in the IANA's February 11, 2000 report on a request for redelegation of the ".pn" (Pitcairn Island) domain: A key theme in the IANA's evaluation of redelegation matters is that the contending parties should seek to achieve a consensual solution to any disputes.

As noted in ICP-1: On a few occasions, the parties involved in proposed delegations or transfers have not been able to reach an agreement and the IANA has been required to resolve the matter. This is usually a long drawn out process, leaving at least one party unhappy, so it is far better when the parties can reach an agreement among themselves. [ICP-1, section (e)]

In this [the .pn] matter, for over two years the contending parties have discussed possible resolutions, but no consensual solution has been achieved. It is apparent that this is one of those circumstances in which non-consensual resolution is necessary.

It should be noted that ".pn" presented an extraordinarily strong case for redelegation (essentially every resident of the island signed a petition requesting redelegation). While it was unfortunate that a consensual resolution could not be achieved in that case, the good-faith consultation requirement has worked well in many other circumstances, resulting in consensual solution providing enhanced Internet service to the relevant community.

3. At the present time, the IANA is not aware that the government has made efforts to discuss the matter with Mr. Matua, or that he was even invited to present his views at the recent Fono hearings. The IANA requests that it be kept advised of future consultations between the Government of American Samoa and Mr. Matua.

Please feel free to contact me at this address if you wish to discuss this matter further.

Louis Touton

Items from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to

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