TRANSLATED FROM RUSSIAN
MAINTENANCE AND DEVELOPMENT
OF .SU TLD: PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS
This document, compiled
by experts of the Foundation's .SU Registry
Regulation Committee, provides analysis of major discussions
held by the Internet community on the .SU Registry Development Project
and updates the Foundation's proposals regarding effective resolution
of the existing problems. The document does not make any final conclusions
but can serve as a basis for preparation of the Foundation's subsequent
decisions in this area. We hope that our analysis of the problems
will let the local Internet community conduct a more detailed discussion
on the issue and come up with a fair-minded assessment of the Project.
The .SU Registry Committee will give thorough consideration to all
comments on this document supplied by interested parties.
In 1994, following a change of the SU country
code in the ISO 3166 standard, the local Internet community came
up with an idea of "indefinitely lasting operation" of
the .su top-level domain in the Internet. The idea had never been
formalized and was primarily aimed at stepping up domain name registration
activities in the newly emerging national domain zones. Since then,
users have been taking recourse of the .su domain at their free
will, with the domain, as time shows, experiencing a period of self-incited
development. During 1995, the number of hosts registered in
the .su domain zone doubled, exceeding the 10,000 level. The first
attempt to take the situation under control was made in 1996 in
connection with the users' rapidly increasing interest in registration
of second-level domain names. In April 1996 AO Relcom, MP Demos
Plus and RIPN (Russian Institute for Public Networks) came up with
joint recommendations to discontinue domain name registration activities
in the .su domain zone. In addition, RIPN virtually stopped endorsing
registration of second-level domain names in the zone. Yet none
of the above measures succeeded in curbing the process of the .su
domain's further development. Since 1994, the number of domain names
registered in the .su domain has increased nearly tenfold and, according
to RIPE NCC statistics,
by May 2002 exceeded the 28,000 level. With the users' right to
free choice seen as a basic market value, the above fact may be
construed as an achievement. Yet in the context of the .su zone's
"indefinitely lasting operation", assuming users' voluntary
departure from its facilities, self-incited development of the domain
zone proves to be fraught with evident contradictions. Unfortunately,
in this particular case the questions "who", "why"
and "for what purpose" is using the .su zone cannot be
treated as issues of a purely technical discussion. The facts speak
for themselves - the domain zone continues to develop, defying restrictions
specifically set to check its growth. Further uncontrolled development
of the .su zone may challenge the principle of Internet stability.
With due regard of the
situation that had emerged by 2001, the
signatories to the aforementioned 1996 recommendations decided
to explore the issue of the .su domain zone's further operation.
The task was assigned to a group of experts from the Foundation
for Internet Development. Their work resulted in drafting the .su
domain development program recently proposed by the Foundation for
public consideration. As expected, the initiative elicited both
support and criticism of the program. In essence, the discussion
focused on one major issue - subsequent transformation of the current
concept of .su zone's "indefinitely lasting operation",
with the sides involved advocating two opposite views on the problem.
The program's opponents de facto argue in favour of setting a deadline
for the domain's operation while its supporters object to imposing
any time limits. The number of arguments put forward by each of
the sides in support of their respective viewpoints is restricted
solely by the vigour of the participants' emotions.
The Foundation's position
on the issue is well known - the .su top-level domain should be
kept in operation because its emergence and evolution was a milestone
event in the Internet history. Users may feel secure about the domain's
stability in case it continues to evolve as an Internet territorial
domain in compliance with the global principles
underlying the Internet's current trends of development. It is these
principles that offer a civilized solution to the problems confronting
the .su zone's further development. In this context, the attitude
of the local Internet community becomes the main factor in determining
prospects for domain name registration in the .su zone.
Problems arising from
restricting registration in the .su domain zone.
In essence, all proposals
on restricting registration and/or setting operational deadlines
boil down to a suggestion that the .su zone should be shut down.
Generally, closure of a domain necessitates resolution of three
Who shall work out the
procedure for the closure?
What approvals are required to authorize the procedure?
Who shall assume responsibility for implementation of the procedure?
So far, neither the Foundation's
experts who drafted the domain development program nor their opponents
have succeeded in giving sound and concrete answers to the above
questions. For all of them, the basic challenge lies in the fact
that no procedure has yet been worked out for closing top-level
domains in the Internet. The aforementioned 1996 recommendations
were in fact the first attempt at developing such a procedure. That
initiative, obviously, was not an exactly successful endeavour.
It ought to be mentioned in this respect that
the Internet knows two historical cases when domain zones were effectively
closed and top-level domains deleted. In both cases, it was primarily
good will of the local Internet community and specific technical
and, in fact, political circumstances that prompted the move. In
the first case, the .zr domain gave way to the .cd domain when the
state of Zaire was renamed in 1997. As of July 1997, the .zr domain
zone was holding 8
registered hosts. By January 1998, all registered hosts in the
.zr domain zone had been removed. The .zr domain was deleted in
June 2001. Czechoslovakia's .cs domain offers the other example.
From early 1993, when the decision on delegation of the Czech Republic's
.cz and Slovakia's .sk domains was officially made, to July 1994,
when Prague welcomed the INET-94 conference, the .cs domain zone
was holding as many as 2,500
hosts. By October 1994, through the efforts of the local Internet
community, all registered entities in the .cs domain zone had been
removed and in January 1995 the .cs domain was effectively deleted.
Formally, one might say that over the past decade
all users of the .su domain could have been able to adapt their
applications and to switch over to other domains. The statistical
data, however, show that nothing of the kind has been happening.
Regrettably, practical experience of managing the .su zone shows
that in some instances it is simply impossible.
At present, there are some quite serious technical
problems stemming from the history of the domain's development that
stand in the way of closing the .su zone. It is general knowledge
that the Internet's stability to a large extent depends on proper
operation of the DNS servers. The .su zone happens to accommodate
quite a few DNS servers historically registered in the domain. They
continue to be responsible for stable performance of the Russian
segment of the Internet. There are nearly 5,000 registered domain
names in the .ru domain zone, whose performance depends on the .su
zone's DNS servers. A number of the .su zone's DNS servers have
been historically used to maintain top-level domains. They have
also been instrumental in effecting registration in the .com, .net,
.org and, since recently, .info and .biz domains, let alone the
currently active applications operating in the .su zone proper as
well as numerous references to those.
The .su domain zone proved to be one of the Internet's
first commercial zones and has been always totally independent of
the state. For that reason, the aforementioned issue of the burden
of responsibility holds much more than purely theoretical value
and in case the zone gets closed may entail compensation of losses
incurred by companies, using the .su domain.
Problems Confronting .su Domain Zone Development
Three main questions need to be answered to ensure
further maintenance and development of the .su domain.
Is the .su domain zone
really in demand?
Can the ISO 3166 experts re-assign the SU code to some other country?
May continued maintenance of the .su domain set a precedent that
will cause obstacles in the Internet's development?
Is the .su domain in demand with the Internet
community? Facts and statistics offer the best answer to this question.
The domain zone is growing and only sanctions specifically aimed
at closing the domain can check that growth. As things stand now,
it is evident that the Internet community is bound to take a clear
stand on the issue. The Foundation's experts have
taken their choice and believe that the option they are proposing
is more constructive than any other solution.
It is the type of code reservation in the international
ISO 3166 standard (employed for designating countries and territories)
that most significantly affects the outlook for continued use of
the SU code in the Internet. Technically, the ten experts of the
3166 Maintenance Agency have been in a position to re-assign
the SU code to another country since 1997. They have not done so
only for common sense reasons, as, due to objective factors, a large
number of the standard's applications using this code (the Internet
included) are still in operation. Since 1974, the Agency's experts
have re-assigned a code of similar magnitude on just one occasion.
The currently effective type of code registration does not provide
for the code's further application, and it was this stipulation
that the aforesaid 1996 recommendations for registration in the
.su domain were based on. The Foundation's experts believe that
in the final analysis community's interests should always prevail
over written instructions. For that reason, the Foundation proposes
that the type of the SU code's ISO 3166 reservation should be changed,
with the .su domain being granted the status currently enjoyed by
the Internet's historically justified exceptions.
In addition to the challenge of securing ISO 3166
reservation of the SU code, there is one more problem pertaining
to the .su domain's continued maintenance and development - the
problem of creating a historical precedent. Is it proper to set
conditions for stable future operation of the .su domain on the
one hand and refer to the case as being unique and exceptional on
the other? Are we not creating prerequisites for maintaining domains
of countries whose codes, for one reason or another, happen to be
reserved in ISO 3166? In the opinion of the Foundation's experts,
there is good reason to believe that the proposals brought forth
by the Foundation will not be instrumental in setting prerequisites
for such a historical precedent. Their opinion is based primarily
[00.75] adopted by the ICANN Board of Directors on 25 September
2000. In accordance with this Resolution, new ccTLD domains in the
Internet shall be delegated only in case an appropriate Agreement
has been made with the ICANN. It stands to reason that the terms
and conditions of "indefinitely lasting operation" of
a specific domain, should the latter ever come to existence, may
well be coordinated with the local Internet community and duly specified
in the aforesaid Agreement.
In its proposals, the Foundation proceeds from
the premise that any problem ought to be addressed primarily in
the interests of the users, while continued development invariably
ensures stability and carries advantages in the technical, economic
and information senses. At present, the opponents of the Foundation's
program are vastly outnumbered by those who continue to use the
domain's facilities. An opinion poll that has been going on in the
Internet at www.voxru.net
since November 2001 features over 50 percent of the votes in favour
and only 25 percent against further development of the .su domain.
The Foundation notes without prejudice users' complaints about the
domain's "increasing commercialization" as well as the
opinion expressed by most respondents (63 percent) beleving that
the high initial price for registration fails to provide effective
protection against cybersquatting. The Foundation's decision
to suspend implementation of the program was taken, among other
things, with due account of the above factors. The Foundation's
experts believe that opinions of the local Internet community should
by all means be taken into consideration during preparation of decisions
on the program and intend to continue approaching all interested
parties in an effort to identify effective solutions to the existing
problems. The final choice must be made by the Internet community,
in whose interests
the .su top-level domain was initially delegated in 1990.
The .SU Registry Regulation Committee
28 May 2002