back to article I bless the reins down on .africa ... Dot-word injunction hits ICANN

DNS overseer ICANN has been hit with a preliminary injunction ordering it to halt the delegation of the .africa internet space for a second time. The judgment [PDF] by the Central District Court of California slams the nonprofit organization for running a sham process over the top-level domain in an effort to hand it to its …

  1. Adrian Midgley 1

    Rather a long TLD

    compared to the transparent good sense of the originators of the original set.

    Marketeers and politicians displaced the engineers there?

    1. Ole Juul

      Re: Rather a long TLD

      "compared to the transparent good sense of the originators of the original set."

      Which were snatched up by Freenom, a Dutch company that specializes in taking advantage of poor African countries. I've got a few of those domains (.cf .ml) myself and would love to pay for them if the money went to those countries instead of towards some European executive's second BMW.

  2. Ole Juul

    ICANN will have to go to court to explain its actions.

    With ICANN being constitutionally unable to tell the truth that's going to be really tedious.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      WTF?

      What is that going to change ?

      ICANN is specialized in pretending that nothing anyone else decides concerns it, has relevance, is pertinent or conforms to its internal decisions.

      Any external attempt to influence it has forever been met with "Nope, not required" or "Well, we'll give it a thought", whilst ICANN continues on its merry way to do whatever it wants.

      I seriously see no hope for change until the entire Board is thrown directly into the slammer and a new one brought in that is determined to set things right.

  3. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

    Unfortunately in this instance ICANN's decision DOES make sense. Why should .africa go to a bunch of yanks when the other bidders are located on the continent (RSA)?

    http://www.africainonespace.org/

    1. Bumpy Cat

      Dotconnectafrica does look as much African as the other group, though; it was founded by Sophia Bekele from Ethiopia and is based in Kenya and Mauritius. I suspect this is a conflict between an independent businesswoman and a state-sponsored group.

      1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

        I see the RSA version being funded by "COZA House" - in it's 20 years of existence I had never heard of state funding.

      2. Boris T

        No. Sophia Bekele was born in Ethiopia but is a US citizen and lives in California. Mauritius is the local tax haven and she just has some associates in Kenya.

        The most frustrating part is that more than 70% of the countries in Africa endorsed the ZACR application but thanks to ICANN's incompetence, racism and the insanity of the US legal system they don't get a say.

        1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

          I see a 'clean room' approach. Hand it to ZACR (on the African continent), then let the DCA take them to court and you've cleared the difficulty of keeping it on US soil.

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      "Unfortunately in this instance ICANN's decision DOES make sense."

      The thing is, whether their conclusion might have been the correct one is a different question from whether they used the correct process to reach that conclusion. If DCA is not the best organisation to get the tld, ICANN shouldn't need to lie, cheat and break their own rules in order to decide that. The actual outcome of this specific bid is really only interesting to a tiny number of people, but such serious and blatant dishonesty at the heart of internet governance is a big concern for anyone who uses the internet.

  4. Yes Me Silver badge

    "ICANN intended to deny DCA's application based on pretext"

    I wouldn't take assertions like that in an injunction at face value. They have to assert something very bad to get an injunction in the first place. The truth may, or may not, come out in court.

    However, this illustrates again the massive folly in opening up contestable gTLD names in the first place. Many, many people can say "I told you so." Greedy pandering to greed was always going to end badly.

    And it shows once again the enormous blunder of incorporating ICANN in US jurisdiction, where such litigation is all too common. Many people can say "I told you so" about that, too.

  5. Ole Juul

    " I suspect this is a conflict between an independent businesswoman and a state-sponsored group."

    You may have nailed it there, but it is long story. How much Sophia Bekele really toots her own horn is somewhat off-putting. However, she's been working on this for a long time and also worked for ICANN so may be a good contender. To be fair though it's important to note that the TLD will be managed by the DotConnectAfrica Trust. The other contender, South Africa’s ZA Central Registry (ZACR), has apparently received endorsement of the African Union whereas Bekele's group didn't. Here's an older, and African, article about this. Actually, the whole thing is a right mess. Wikipedia outlines the .africa history.

    1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

      Thanks for that. For the record though, Uniforum has done a sterling job and there has been very little help from the state for our (relatively poor) internet here. OTOH, NGTLD's are not something I care about.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge
      Meh

      ...received endorsement of the African Union....

      Which usually translates as: "Greased the right palms".

      1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

        See my post above. From my vantage point it's the other way around. There really is a sparsity of registrars on this continent and ZACR deserves kudos.

  6. lafnlab
    Devil

    Damn you, headline writer

    After reading that headline, I'm now suffering through an 80s prog rock earworm.

    1. andy gibson

      Re: Damn you, headline writer

      I'm buying the domain name toto.africa

    2. Trixr Bronze badge

      Re: Damn you, headline writer

      I have to give points to the writer for getting the line in the song right!

  7. Justicesays

    So, precedent set?

    "The court also rejected ICANN's claims that DCA is not entitled to sue it because it made DCA sign a contract before it applied for .africa that said it was not allowed to sue ICANN in a court of law."

    Given that almost every contract has started to contain terms that purport to prevent or limit legal actions against the dominant partner in the contract, are these terms now looking to be invalid? (as well they should be).

    1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: So, precedent set?

      > Given that almost every contract has started to contain terms that purport to prevent or limit legal actions against the dominant partner in the contract, are these terms now looking to be invalid?

      IANAL, AIUI in English law there is a concept of "meeting of minds". Where a contract was formed by a meeting of minds (ie both parties negotiated on equal terms and reached a mutually acceptable position) then most things go - but where one party is dominant then it can be argued that the contract wasn't formed by a meeting of minds, but imposed by the dominant party in the other and therefore clauses may be challenged.

      IMO this is the sort of term that could be considered unreasonable, and if the US has a similar concept then that may well be grounds for having the clause declared unenforceable.

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