Draft NARALO Statement on the Misappropriation of the .PR Domain

The following draft statement on the .pr controversy was prepared by Eduardo Diaz, with comments by Garth Bruen and final revisions by Beau Brendler.

At this point, this draft is under discussion within NARALO.  NARALO members are invited to give feedback promptly by using the "Add comment" function at the bottom of this page.


DRAFT STATEMENT OF THE NORTH AMERICAN AT-LARGE REGIONAL ORGANIZATION ON THE MISAPPROPRIATION OF THE .PR DOMAIN


The North American At-Large Regional Organization wants to bring the ICANN community’s attention to a serious concern regarding management of Puerto Rico’s country code top-level domain, .pr, following a June 2011 lawsuit filed by The University of Puerto Rico against the domain’s manager alleging misappropriation of public funds and inappropriate ownership claim of the domain, among other allegations.

Background
In 1988, the U.S. National Science Foundation established a program to expand use of the Internet outside the United States by establishing a domain registration that would allow each country connected to the network to offer access the Internet through that domain. 

Within that program, the University of Puerto Rico, through its Gauss Research Laboratory in the Natural Sciences department, requested the domain ".pr" (institutional research number 8818283, "Support for the Participation of the University of Puerto Rico in the NSFNet”). This proposal was approved in 1989 and administration of the .pr domain was designated to the “Gauss Research Laboratory” with the university as manager.

In 2006, the .pr ccTLD’s manager contacted the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority to request a name change in the sponsoring organization, from the University of Puerto Rico to a corporation with the same name, including the abbreviations “INC. i.e. Gauss Research Laboratory, Inc.” As a result of this change, Gauss Research Laboratory Inc. was permitted to remove the .pr ccTLD operations outside the university campus, as well as redirect any funds generated by domain purchases.
 
Results of IANA Decision
It is apparent IANA, in its decision, considered the  request for a name change in the sponsoring organization to be an administrative task, not a re-delegation of the ccTLD. However, according to the lawsuit, the ccTLD manager took action as if a full re-delegation had been made, allowing him to move the operation outside the university. Critically, in 2007, Gauss Research Laboratory, Inc. filed a change in corporate status from non-profit to for-profit with the Department of State of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Therefore, IANA’s decision effectively resulted in the hijacking of a public resource from a non-profit educational institution to a for-profit corporation.

The NARALO is concerned the apparent “re-delegation” of the .pr domain represents a potential abuse of public trust and misappropriation of Internet resources.

In addition, while the controversy over Puerto Rico's country-code domain may seem unusual, findings presented in the final report of the ccNSO Delegation and Redelegation Working Group (http://ccnso.icann.org/workinggroups/final-drd-report-02may11-en.pdf) clearly indicate it is not.

NARALO applauds and supports the ccNSO working group’s desire, stated in that report, to “create an environment for making consistent and predictable decisions regarding the delegation, re-delegation and retirement of ccTLDs while enhancing accountability and transparency.”

Therefore, at the 2011 ICANN meeting in Dakar, NARALO will present the facts and allegations in this case, as well as examples of similar cases, in hopes of prompting a multi-stakeholder discussion and approach to create such an environment worldwide.

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4 Comments

  1. In the 4th paragraph where it says: " ...was permitted to remove..." it should say: "...proceeded to remove..."

  2. Firstly I am unsure if this is a DRAFT Statement for only Regional consideration or one duly created and seen as final and endorsed by NARALO and all its component ALSes, but I'm equally sure that will be explained to me (and any one else interested) at DAKAR meeting(s) OR if it is a statement text intended for wider community discussion and or review...

    If it is the latter then I have serious concerns on some text and inference to be possibly drawn from some of the text proposed INCLUDING for example the title of the document and Wiki...

    However as the ALAC's liaison to the ccNSO and our rep on the FOI-WG whose charter states: 1. Objective
    The objective of the Working Group is to develop and propose a "Framework of Interpretation" for the delegation and re delegation of ccTLDs. This framework should provide a clear guide to IANA and the ICANN Board on interpretations of the current Policy Statements."

    I was planning to attend the session NARALO is holding in DAKAR to outline these cross community activities that are follow on from the ccNSO Delegation and Redelegation Working Group (DRDWG) http://ccnso.icann.org/workinggroups/final-drd-report-02may11-en.pdf because there seemed to me at least to be some particular relevance of this ongoing work to the the stated intention of this document i.e.

    "NARALO applauds... ... ... 'create an environment for making consistent and predictable decisions regarding the delegation, re-delegation and retirement of ccTLDs while enhancing accountability and transparency.' AND "prompting a multi-stakeholder discussion and approach to create such an environment worldwide."

    BUT I would do more than caution any one from engaging in the following :-
    to "presentation the facts and allegations in this .PR case, as well as examples of similar cases, in hopes of ... ... ... " whilst a subject related case is ongoing in any jurisdiction, AND at this time there is of course a current law suit ongoing in Puerto Rico...

    Perhaps the NARALO organizers / text authors, might wish to seek specific opinion or guidance on this in preparation for the meeting planned to be held in Dakar...

    More from me to follow and/or in Dakar perhaps...

  3. As a resident of PR and an ALAC member from the region, I fully support the intent of this statement. The purpose here is to bring attention of the ICANN and the At Large community of this anomaly, and the need for better control mechanisms to ensure validity of domain ownership requests. This case sounds similar to, hypothetically, Jon Postel creating "Information Sciences Institute USC, Inc.," leaving the academia to pursue internet development commercially. The fact I have experienced is when the domain registration fees are lower and affordable due to competitive market pressures, the cost to register a .pr domain still remains astronomical due to commercial motivations. This situation inhibits adoption of the ccTLD, both by individuals and business community.

    I think it is appropriate to bring this case to the attention of DRDWG (Thank you, Cheryl) for appropriate policy/framework formulation on re-delegation of ccTLDs to avoid such instances in future. However I believe this case merits immediate investigation and appropriate investigation & resolution without further delay, or waiting for policies to evolve if need be. Looking forward to authors' presentation in Dakar.

  4. Anonymous

    FWIW there doesn't seem to be a reasonable or rational reason for the .PR TLD at this point.  My

    guess is that given the various forms of Internet related illegal activity origination from within Puerto Rico would be

    more than sufficient to discontinue this TLD post haste.

    Kindest Regards,

    Jeffrey A. Williams

    CISO IDNS LLC.