Masters of our own Domain

The role of a ccTLD administrator is not to arbitrate public morals. While simple rules can be set concerning appropriate use of the domain, they need to be kept to a minimum. The approach we need to take is a minimalist one. There are some terms, for example, that do little or nothing to enhance the public dialogue. Swear words, for example.

But that does not mean that a domain administrator should have any direct role in defining what topics can or should be discussed in the public sphere.

A ccTLD administrator is neither pastor, policeman nor politician. It does not exist to make rules about public morality, nor should it be given powers beyond the minimal set necessary to ensure the smooth operation of its part of the Internet Domain Name Service (DNS).

Vanuatu has laws, and everyone has to respect them. A national domain administrator has a responsibility to uphold those laws, and to the extent that it’s reasonable to do so, it should ensure that those laws are upheld by its stakeholders and clients.

A domain administrator’s role is primarily technical. Most of what they do is make the registration of domains by multiple parties practical, simple and conducive to the conduct of a public exchange of information, for whatever purpose.

[This week’s Communications column for the Vanuatu Independent.]

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working on contract to assist the Interim Telecommunications Regulator in conducting a consultation seeking public input on how best to manage Vanuatu’s .vu domain in a pluralistic, healthy commercial ISP market.

A fair amount of technical information necessarily goes into such discussions, and you can read more about that on the Regulator’s website.

The issue of managing Vanuatu’s national domain affects us all. It’s not sufficient for a bunch of geeks to get together and decide everything; we need to make sure everyone in Vanuatu has a clear idea what’s happening.

To that end, I’ve dug through a number of older columns on the subject of what a domain is, how it should work, and what it all means to Internet users in Vanuatu.

Read more “Masters of our own Domain”