The Government today (June 5) published a consultation paper on the proposed arrangements for the administration and assignment of Internet domain names and Internet protocol (IP) addresses in Hong Kong.
The paper was produced by the Task Force set up under the Information Infrastructure Advisory Committee (IIAC) in October 1999 to review the administration and assignment of Internet domain names and IP addresses, with a view to recommending a framework of arrangements which best suits Hong Kong's needs.
At a press conference announcing the publication of the consultation paper today, the chairman of the Task Force, Professor Charles Kao, said, "In reviewing the subject, we have carefully studied the existing arrangements in Hong Kong and also the practices in other economies, i.e. Australia, Singapore, Japan, the United Kingdom, the Mainland of China, Taiwan, Canada and Finland. We have also made reference to the initiatives taken and directions given by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
"We completed our review last month and our recommendations were endorsed by the IIAC for public consultation."
Professor Kao said the major recommendations of the Task Force are :
* a new policy-making and administrative body, comprising members from different sectors, should be set up to assume the overall responsibility for Internet domain names administration in Hong Kong;
* more flexibility should be provided in the registration of .hk domain names, e.g. companies and organisations should be allowed to register more than one domain name, domain names ending with .hk should in principle be transferable on valid grounds, and registration by individuals in Hong Kong should be allowed; and
* an alternative dispute resolution mechanism may have to be established to strengthen the administrative measures on domain names dispute resolution.
At present, the Hong Kong Network Information Centre (HKNIC) under the Joint Universities Computer Centre (JUCC) is the only organization which provides registration service for domain names under .hk, i.e. .com.hk, .org.hk, .net.hk, .edu.hk and .gov.hk. The HKNIC charges a one-off fee of $200 for each application for registration of new domain names or modification of existing domain names. Only organisations registered with a public registry in Hong Kong are eligible for application. Each organization may register only one domain name and registration by individuals is not allowed. As of April 2000, the number of domain names ending with .hk was around 37,000 whereas the number of monthly new applications exceeds 2,000.
The HKNIC is currently not involved in the allocation of IP addresses. The Hong Kong members of the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), which are mainly Internet Service Providers (ISPs), obtain IP addresses directly from the APNIC and distribute them to smaller ISPs and end-users in Hong Kong.
The Director of Information Technology Services, Mr K H Lau, who is also a member of the Task Force, explained that the Task Force was of the view that the proposed new body, which was to assume the overall responsibility for Internet domain name administration in Hong Kong, should be a non-profit making and non-statutory corporation, with membership open on a subscription basis to ISPs, the commercial sector, academia, the Government as well as other organizations and individuals with an interest in the development of the Internet.
"The new body will operate on a self-financing basis and may derive its income from fees collected from its members and from domain name registration," he said.
On domain name registry function, Mr Lau said the Task Force considered that the Government should take over the registrar responsibility of the .gov.hk domain while JUCC could continue with the registrar responsibility of the .edu.hk domain. The registrar responsible for .com.hk, .org.hk and .net.hk domain names may engage agents, such as ISPs, to perform some of the routine registration work.
The existing arrangements for the administration and assignment of IP addresses from the APNIC to Hong Kong have been operating smoothly and are well received by the ISPs and other related organizations in Hong Kong. The Task Force was of the view that these arrangements should continue.
"To minimise cybersquatting," Mr Lau continued, "the Task Force considers that a reserved list of well-known names, country names, international trademark names and brand names, etc. may be drawn up by making reference to similar lists maintained by other overseas network information centres."
The consultation will last for six weeks. Comments on the consultation paper should be sent on or before July 16 by post to the Information Technology Services Department, 8/F Shui On Centre, 6-8 Harbour Road, Wanchai; by fax 2189 2525; or by e-mail email@example.com.
The consultation paper has been put on the "Digital 21" web site (www.digital21.gov.hk) as well as the web sites of the Government Information Centre (www.info.gov.hk), the Information Technology and Broadcasting Bureau (www.info.gov.hk/itbb) and the Information Technology Services Department (www.info.gov.hk/itsd). Copies are also available at District Offices.
End/Monday, June 5, 2000 NNNN