Search Menu
Language Menu
Mobile Menu

Public Comments on the "Consultation Paper on the Review on Administration and Assignment of Internet Domain Names and Internet Protocol Addresses in Hong Kong"


HKISPA Response to the Consultation Paper on the Review on Administration and Assignment of Internet Domain Names and Internet Protocol Addresses in Hong Kong

  1. For years, HKISPA has been concerned about the administration and assignment of Internet domain names and Internet protocol addresses in Hong Kong. Specifically, we have been concerned that policies of the Hong Kong Network Information Center (HKNIC) have not been friendly to the development of Internet business and electronic commerce, and the HKNIC administration has also been lacking in transparency. HKISPA has therefore called for a review of the situation for years and after several meetings with the Government about this issue, we were glad that a task force was formed to review the matters.
  2. Concerning the Proposed Institutional Arrangements, HKISPA agrees that "a new non-profit making body" be set up "to assume the overall responsibility for Internet domain name administration in Hong Kong". HKISPA is also basically in principle agreement that the new body should not be in the form of a statutory body.
  3. However, HKISPA is concerned about the issue of legitimacy for the new HKNIC. For example, the task force may draw its attention to the recent controversies surrounding ICANN and its legitimacy, and the problems ICANN encounters in attempting to collect fees from national governments. In the current review, it has been virtually assumed that the HKSAR Government, or the Information Technology and Broadcasting Bureau, with the recommendation from the Task Force on the Review on Administration and Assignment of Internet Domain Names and Internet Protocol Address in Hong Kong, will have the legitimacy to set up a new HKNIC authority. HKISPA believes that such assumption may warrant a closer examination.
  4. Therefore, HKISPA would like to see further discussion regarding the authority, or even ownership, of the new HKNIC. HKISPA does not believe the authority should be a Government, or even a para-Government, entity. One way to ensure the legitimacy base of such an organization or authority will be through extensive consultation - of which the current exercise is a major step - and how representative the membership of the new authority will have. So, HKISPA believes that the new HKNIC should be an independent, membership-owned body, recognized and endorsed by the Government.
  5. The task force recommends the membership of the future non-profit making body will have membership that is "open on a subscription basis to ISPs, the commercial sector, academia, the Government as well as other organizations and individuals with an interest in the development of the Internet." HKISPA welcomes that the membership is recommended to be open to an person, corporation or association with an interest. However, HKISPA believes it is premature to stipulate that membership will only be "open" on a "subscription basis." This is in contrary to the principle of making the body as open as possible. By comparison, ICANN membership is completely open, with any interested person able to become an "at-large member" simply by registering on its web site. HKISPA believes that the classification of membership and charges, if any, should be further discussed with the public before any decision is made.
  6. HKISPA is concerned that before the issue of legitimacy and representation is clarified, it is premature to recommend that "a Board of Directors should be appointed to exercise the policy-making function." It was not clear from the consultation who will make such appointment. In the case of ICANN, the members of the various boards were elected, and indeed, the terms of reference and the bylaws of the body itself were also publicly discussed, drafted, amended, and rectified. Such is the tradition of openness of the Internet, and Hong Kong should adopt such an open approach, as opposed to the Government making appointments on its own, and then leaving the new authority open to criticism about its legitimacy base, and the Government open to attacks about the lack of transparency. HKISPA believes that election can take place from the beginning, as opposed to "gradually [transforming] into the proposed membership-based body with its directors elected from its members." HKISPA is also seriously concerned that no timetable for the migration to an independent elected body has been discussed or proposed, other than that it will be "gradual." This will leave the future of the Internet industry in very serious uncertainty.
  7. HKISPA agrees that the current arrangements for the Policy-making function relating to IP addresses should continue. We also agree that the arrangement for a single Administrator of the ccTLD registry should be continue.
  8. Concerning the issues about registrars and agents, HKISPA agrees that the Government may take over the registrar responsibility of the domain, since the domain space will be exclusively for the use of the HKSAR Government anyway. However, HKISPA has some reservations about the task force's view that "JUCC's role [as the registrar] should continue if the public generally supports the approach." While JUCC would be an acceptable party to continue to handle the task, the proper approach should be a open solicitation or tender for a neutral, independent body or consortium to compete for the task, in case some bodies may be as, or more, capable and appropriate to handle the task. HKISPA is also concerned that no timetable has been discussed about the transfer of authority if JUCC is to continue the task of administration of HKNIC.
  9. About the issue of multiple registrars, HKISPA believes that while the specific number and policies need not be confirmed at present time, it is important for the Government and the task force to fully endorse the concept that multiple registrars will lead to more competition and hence will be beneficial to the industry overall. There should not be much controversy about this matter because it is the generally accepted view of the international community including ICANN, and is consistent with the HKSAR Government's telecommunications and Internet policies.
  10. Concerning the registration guidelines for .hk domain names, HKISPA believes that the public should be involved in the determination of any reserved list, and an appeal process should be allowed for any person or company in case it believes it has a legitimate reason to apply for the use of a name on the reserved list. Also, HKISPA is very concerned about the "unclear" definition that any "general principle" to protect Interent domain names from "indecency, words which are obscene, scandalous, indecent, and contrary to [添.] morality" should not be registered. There will be serious public concern if there is no prevailing standard and such applications will be "accessed on a case by case basis." Efforts should also be made to ensure consistency with the broadcasting and publishing guidelines regarding such "words," if any, and the use of words as Internet domain names should not be any more restrictive.
  11. Regarding the format and business nature of a domain name, HKISPA does not agree that "a requested domain name must resemble the name of the company or its products/services, the rationale being that a domain name is primarily intended to provide a clear and convenient Internet address to facilitate access to a web site of the concerned company or its services/products." In fact, the domain name itself is the company identity, or its service or product. Therefore, the principle for allowing any company to register any domain name available, based on a "first come, first served" principle, is proposed by HKISPA.
  12. About multiple domain names per registrant organization, HKISPA believes that no limit should be set on the number of names each entity may be allowed to register, simply because any limit on any number will be arbitrary.
  13. About the issue of local presence, HKISPA disagrees with the task force that "only companies and organizations registered or incorporated in Hong Kong should be allowed to register domain names ending with .hk." This is inconsistent with Hong Kong's aim to become an Internet and electronic commerce center or hub in the region, or the world. There is limited risks, if any, for completely opening .hk registration. In fact, in many previous cases, overseas companies have failed to reserve its .hk domain names before a local office has been set up, and saw their names taken by others, causing them to switch to set up an office in other regional economies. Therefore, HKISPA proposes a completely open policy for .hk registration.
  14. The registration of domain names for individuals is long called for, and HKISPA agrees that individual residents of Hong Kong should be allowed to register domain names in a new second-level domain category under .hk. However, HKISPA does not believe that such domain names must be "derived directly from the names appearing on their Hong Kong identity cards." This act serves no practical purpose other than imposing restrictions and stifling creativity and individuality, key characteristics of the Internet and Internet citizens. As long as records are kept about the legal domain name individual owners and that these owners are traceable, there is no reason to limit the way individuals may like to use a creative individual domain name or alias. The Government mentality about the Internet cannot take an overly paternalistic or authoritative approach unnecessarily.
  15. For years HKISPA has proposed that HKNIC would collect charges for the renewal of domain names, so HKISPA is supportive of the task force proposal to the same effect.
  16. In principle, HKISPA agrees that dispute resolution mechanism with an arbitration panel should be set up for handling disputes. However, HKISPA is concerned that no discussion so far about the authority and the membership of the arbitration panel has been discussed so far.
  17. The issue of Chinese domain names was discussed in the review paper as background information and no specific recommendations were made about Chinese domain names in the current review. HKISPA agrees that it is too early at this stage to set up any policy in this area, and since it may take some time for any standard to emerge, the policy in Hong Kong regarding Chinese domain names should be as open as possible, or , in other words, no policy may be needed at present.
  18. HKISPA welcomes its views as reflected in this response to be made public by the Government.

Hong Kong Internet Service Providers Association
July 16, 2000