The Honorable Senator John 'Jay' Rockefeller
The Chairman of the United States Senate Committee
on Commerce, Science and Transportation
United States Congress
Dear Senator Rockefeller,
We begin Senator by commending your enviable record of distinguished public service in the United States Congress spanning nearly three decades, and your esteemed leadership of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and previous stint in the Senate Committee on Intelligence where you introduced and made invaluable contributions to cyber-security and telecommunications legislation. We note the official support and encouragement received by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to commence the expansion of the Internet through the new programme to introduce new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLD), a global process under which domain names such as "DotAfrica" are expected to be delegated as new Internet domains to be created in the root zone of the Internet. The new gTLD programme was threatened at some stage by many dissonant voices that called for either its postponement or outright cancellation which would have frustrated the hopes and aspirations of many especially in Africa.
DCA Trust is an independent, non-profit and non-partisan organization that is constituted under the Laws of the Republic of Mauritius, and its main charitable objects are: (a) for the advancement of education in information technology to the African society; and (b) in connection with (a) to provide the African society with a continental Internet domain name to have access to Internet services for the people of Africa as a purpose beneficial to the public in general.
DCA Trust has participated in the new gTLD ICANN programme of ICANN during the application window that opened on 12th January 2012, and closed on 30th May 2012. DCA Trust has funded the application to the tune of nearly US$500,000.00 (Five Hundred Thousand United States of America Dollars) to cover payment of the ICANN Registration and Application Evaluation Fees, and the set-up of a Registry Continuity Operations Instrument (COI) undertaken for the proactive protection of intended users and registrants of DotAfrica gTLD from any registry business failure. Therefore, DCA Trust has already taken upon itself certain financial and other strategic risks on behalf of future Internet users of the DotAfrica gTLD in Africa which can only be mitigated by success in the current application round. Apart from the huge application fees and mandatory reserves that need to be provided for registry business operations continuity just to participate in the application round, large sums of money have also been expended on preparatory work and campaigning globally for the programme that took place over many years.
However, success in the current programme is not guaranteed, and in our estimation, one reason that poses severe risks to the entire new gTLD programme is the possible changes to the Global Internet Governance Architecture that is presently overseen by ICANN that handles the IANA mandate under a contract with the U.S. National Technology & Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department of Commerce. Honorable Senator, it is clear that since ICANN is 'midwifing' the new gTLD programme, any change to the present Global Internet Governance structure and its multi-stakeholder underpinnings could very well have an impact on the outcome of the new gTLD programme, with potential disruptions and unforeseen risks to those organizations, including DCA Trust, that have already participated in the present gTLD application round, not forgetting the disappointment to all those that are looking forward to a smooth Internet expansion programme.
Recent news reports in global media, and moves by certain countries such as Russia, China, India, South Africa and others proposing changes to the present governance model of the Internet and to place its regulation under the aegis of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a member of the multilateral United Nations Organizations (UN), could possibly derail the current ICANN-led stakeholder model, with potentially disastrous impact not only on the new gTLD programme but on global Internet availability, security, stability, openness; and the inalienable rights of peoples everywhere to freedom of communication, availability of information, and the free usage of the Internet as a forum for inter-change of ideas and a platform for fostering education, collaborative research, innovation and inventiveness, etc., ideals and values that are considered pillars of American culture and a buttressed democratic ethos which the United States continues to share with the world through its international public diplomacy efforts.
The Internet itself has proved to be a very useful platform for bringing Africa into the mainstream of global information and communication technology usage, and its gradual and increasing availability is helping Africa to bridge the so-called 'Digital Divide'. Many examples exist of how the Internet is acting as a mechanism for development in Africa, and how it is impacting lives positively in the areas of education and health, of which the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is helping to fund many programs in Africa such as Basic Education Systems Overhaul (BESO), General Educational Quality Improvement (GEQIP), and various HIV/AIDS prevention and management and general health sector improvement and disease control initiatives in Africa. Most of these international development projects funded by the USAID in Africa - including the improvement of agricultural production and livestock management and market value chains - have large computer procurement and Internet service delivery components necessary for modern agricultural commodity/produce marketing information systems and commodity exchange. Programs such as COMPETE - Competiveness & Trade Expansion Program - assist in building and accelerating Africa's trading competiveness in the global marketplace. Most of these programs are very life-changing and continue to impact positively on the socio-economic development prospects of communities in different countries in Africa.
We think that a proposed change in Internet Governance to the multilateral UN poses a great risk to the current multi-stakeholder model over-sighted by U.S.-based institutions. It is for this reason Honorable Senator that we are writing to express the support of DCA Trust for the U.S. Government's position in defense of the Global Internet Governance status quo; which promises further stability and continuity in a more predictable manner, whilst also expressing a willingness to testify should further hearings at the US Senate become necessary on the Current Multistakeholder Internet Governance process, with a view to enhancing and protecting its core participatory and democratic principles, present and future operational consolidation and overall effectiveness for the benefit of a Global Internet Society which requires continuing American stewardship. Even in Africa, an open multi-stakeholder based Internet is very essential for the development and consolidation of democracy, human and people's rights, and human security in Africa, as the continent becomes more and more integrated into the global community.
DCA Trust is ready to present its opinion on the matter should the U.S. Senate decide to commence official proceedings and hold more ....
The Full Letter: http://library.constantcontact.com/
Most respectfully yours,
Ms. Sophia Bekele, MBA, CISA, CGEIT