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: Julia Barton: "Ukraine's Domain in Dot-Dispute".

додано: 28-06-2001 // // URL: http://maidan.org.ua/static/mai/993736526.html
Версія до друку // Редагувати // Стерти

Stepping into the breach is Ukraine's successor to the KGB, known as the SBU, which said recently that it will take over the top-level domain name.

Not so fast, says a San Francisco networks administrator who officially has control of the domain-name registration through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Dmitry Kohmanyuk, who runs the domain with a group of volunteers in the U.S. and Ukraine, says he wants to give up the responsibility, but only to a service "based on the Internet principle of nondiscrimination, and open to everybody." He doesn't believe the SBU is such an entity.

If the Ukrainian government presses its case, it could become a serious test for the still-evolving rules for administering country-code, top-level domains, or ccTLDs. Guidelines drafted last year say that "a government's wishes with respect to a ccTLD must be given very serious weight" but that "it is equally important to shield a ccTLD manager from shifting political winds."

Gennady Pritsker, secretary of the International Association of Top Level Domains -- who helped draft those guidelines -- admits there's no way of enforcing the key principle, that governments should be an "integral part" of the Internet community, not a dominating presence.

Although contracts for administering top level domains are held by ICANN, the Ukrainian government could take over dot-ua if it really wanted to, Pritsker said.
"The government is a sovereign entity, so who's to stop them? ICANN is a private California corporation; they're not going to summon the national guard to Ukraine," he said.

Neither Kohmanyuk nor SBU have appealed to ICANN, but if they do "it will be hard for ICANN to make a decision," said Esther Dyson, ICANN's former chairwoman and an investor in the Russian and Eastern European Internet. A spokeswoman for ICANN said the corporation will reserve judgment until approached.

Observers inside Ukraine say the dot-ua struggle fits a familiar pattern in a country where both the government and mafia have been known to demand a piece of business ventures in the name of "protecting" them. (The SBU says dot-ua needs protection from "internal and external attack.")

"The post-Soviet mentality is quite straightforward in this respect: control," said Ivan Lozowy, director of the Institute of Statehood and Democracy in Kiev. "In a country where the rules are not firmly established and the situation is wide open, it is natural to 'grab' as much as possible."

But this particular grab comes at a time when the Internet is playing an increasing role in the country's political life.

Last year, Georgiy Gongadze, the founder of a fiesty political site Ukrainian Truth, was found murdered outside Kiev.

Then came the bombshell release of digital audio made by a disgruntled presidential bodyguard who later received political asylum in the United States. On the audio, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma can be heard calling Gongadze a "son of a bitch" who should be kidnapped by Chechens. The president insists he said no such thing, and said that the audio has been doctored.

Regardless of whether Ukrainians embrace Kuchma or push him away, it's clear that the Internet isn't going away.

Only 500,000 Ukrainians, or 1 percent of the population, has regular access to the Net. As in many of the former Soviet republics, poverty and decrepit phone lines make dialing up both expensive and frustrating.

But Internet cafes are springing up around the country (one in Kiev brings beer and dumplings right to your terminal), and so are political forums like Maidan.org.ua, a sounding board for anti-Kuchma protesters.

For the second time in three years, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has placed Kuchma on its Enemies of the Press list, citing not only Gongadze's murder, but "habitual censorship of opposition newspapers and increased attacks and threats against independent journalists." That’s made freedom of speech on the Internet more vital than ever, said Jed Sunden, the founder of SputnikMedia,
Ukraine’s most popular Web portal.

Sunden pays to register all of his company's websites under dot-com and dot-net domains, thus avoiding the uncertainty of dot-ua’s future. But many Ukrainian companies can't afford the fees, Kohmanyuk said. Right now dot-ua registration is free, though Kohmanyuk would like to see the domain name run by a nonprofit that only charges enough to pay a few administrative salaries.

Kohmanyuk says government security forces should have nothing to do with the venture. He's confident that the SBU will give up its efforts, saying the agents he's met don't understand how the Internet is governed, much less how to administer a top-level domain name.

"They want us to give this all to them ... it’s pathetic," Kohmanyuk said. "It's like someone asks to drive your car, and they don't even know where the steering wheel is."

But the SBU's deputy for technological systems, Valery Balabanov, said the issue is a political one.
"If the maintenance of the dot-ua domain is disrupted, Ukraine would simply cease to exist for the outside world," he said on Ukrainian TV. "There would be nowhere to send mail."

додано: 28-06-2001 // URL: http://maidan.org.ua/static/mai/993736526.html
Версія до друку // Редагувати // Стерти

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