Application Comment Details

DotConnectAfrica Trust
ZA Central Registry NPC trading as Registry.Africa
Legal Rights Objection Ground
Illegal Contract between AU and UniForum
4 September 2012 at 15:06:16 UTC

An Illegitimate Agreement was signed between the African Union and UniForum that Grants the AU all the Rights to the .AFRICA TLD and all rights to Registry Databases for the .AFRICA gTLD

According to the published parts of the application for .AFRICA submitted by UniForum, we read the following statement: “It should be noted that the AUC shall retain all rights relating to the dotAfrica TLD, including in particular, intellectual property and other rights to the registry databases required to ensure the implementation of the agreement between the AUC and the ZACR, and the right to re-designate the registry function”. We have examined every aspect of the new gTLD Applicant’s Guidebook, and wish to note that there is no provision for a third-party organization such as the AU, a non-applicant, and an organization that is not a registry operator, to have all rights to a TLD and other rights over registry databases and the right to re-designate the registry function. We believe that all TLD rights belong to ICANN, including the registry databases that have to be escrowed to enable ICANN implement user and registrant protection to guard against the risk of registry failure, and the imperative of continuing registry functions with an ICANN-appointed emergency back-end registry (EBERO) services provider.

The new gTLD Registry Agreement is very clear on the technical and legal requirements regarding the escrow of Registry Data. ICANN is the principal beneficiary of any registry data which is held by a third-party data escrow agent. Therefore, we do not see the legality of an agreement between UniForum ZA Central Registry and the AU Commission that grants the African Union the rights to the registry databases for the .AFRICA gTLD in direct contradiction and violation of Specification 2 (Data Escrow Requirements) of the new gTLD Registry Agreement of ICANN. We believe that accepting UniForum’s application for evaluation would give legitimacy to the illegal agreement between UniForum and the AU that contravenes the new gTLD program objective by making the AU the beneficiary of registry databases, something that is not provided for within the new gTLD Registry Agreement of ICANN.

The ICANN Evaluation should take note of this and reject the application for .Africa that was submitted by UniForum ZA Central Registry on the basis of this wrong attribution of legal rights of the .Africa TLD to a non-applicant in apparent violation of the new gTLD Registry Agreement of ICANN’s new gTLD program.