State take-over of top-level domain in Ukraine

By EDRi · November 5, 2003

The government of Ukraine is trying to take-over the national .ua
top-level domain. Via a new act on the administration of the .ua domain,
adopted on 22 July 2003, the new enterprise Ukrainian Network Information
Centre was established and made responsible. The act was apparently
adopted after complaints in the media by government officials about the
inefficiency of the domain administration and incapacity to meet the needs
of the Ukrainian Internet Community.

The governmental involvement in the new enterprise is clearly visible in
the list of organisations that are jointly responsible: the State
Telecommunications Committee; the State Security Service
Telecommunications and Information Protection Department and the Internet
Association of Ukraine, made up of 6 state-owned ISPs including state
monopolists Ukrtelecom, Utel, Infocom. The only 2 more or less independent
participants are the Association of Telephone Operators ‘TELAS’ and the
Ukrainian Association of Internet Market Participants, representing the
interests of 40 small regional ISPs.

The new act met with joined resistance from the Ukrainian Internet
Society, a major non-governmental organisation representing interests of
Internet users in all regions of the Ukraine and the previous technical
administrator of the domain, HostMaster Ltd.

Hostmaster brought a lawsuit against government in August 2003 in the Kyiv
City Commercial Court, claiming unlawfulness of the Governmental Act on
the grounds that it interfered with commercial activity and constituted a
violation of the Law on Enterprises.

Since 1992, the .UA ccTLD was delegated by IANA (ICANN) to 2 Ukrainian
citizens in the interests of all Ukrainian users. Until 2001 the domain
was coordinated by enthusiasts of the Ukrainian Net Group Coordination (UA
NCG). In 2001 its activists established HostMaster Ltd. This company
introduced Domain Administration Rules that entered in force in February
2003. A Public Supervisory Council was established for the coordination of
the domain administration. According to the HostMaster, Ltd. press
release, public bodies rejected to participate in the Council.

Reporters Sans Frontieres has expressed alarm over the governmental
efforts to take control over the country’s top-level domain, and is also
warning about proposals to legalise e-mail monitoring. The state
telecommunications commission asked telecom operators and Internet service
providers (ISPs) on 17 July to install equipment to monitor all traffic
they handled. The Ukrainian Internet Association objected strongly to this
as an unacceptable breach of privacy for Internet users and noted that for
the moment it was still illegal. The Ukrainian secret police asked
parliament on 19 August to legalise recording and interception of phone
and Internet messages, ostensibly to help fight crime and supposedly to
bring the law into line with European standards.
In a statement, RSFs secretary-general Robert Menard said that the
Ukrainian government is effectively trying to gag online activity.

Concern about secret police bid to control the Internet (27.20.2003)

Statement by the director of the ‘Ukrainian Network Information Centre’

(Thanks to Andriy Pazyuk from Privacy Ukraine)