The public are generally in support of the setting up of a new non-profit-making and non-statutory corporation to assume the overall responsibility for Internet domain name administration in Hong Kong.
They also support proposed registration principles to liberalize Internet domain name registration and the proposed alternative dispute resolution arrangements which could help to address cybersquatting.
These views were received during the public consultation on Administration and Assignment of Internet Domain Names and Internet Protocol Addresses in Hong Kong held between June 5 and July 16 this year.
Announcing the results of the consultation exercise at a press conference today (July 31), Deputy Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting, Mr Alan Siu, said a total of 37 submissions were received in the consultation exercise, of which eight were submissions from individuals and 29 were submitted by organizations and companies.
He said all the comments received had been considered in detail by the Task Force set up under the Information Infrastructure Advisory Committee (IIAC) to review the administration and assignment of Internet domain names and Internet Protocol addresses. The Task Force had made its recommendations which were subsequently endorsed by the IIAC, he added.
At present, the Hong Kong Network Information Centre under the Joint Universities Computer Centre (JUCC) is the organization which provides registration service for domain names under .hk, i.e. .com.hk, .org.hk, .net.hk, .edu.hk and .gov.hk.
The chairman of the Task Force, Professor Charles Kao, said that in view of the public support for the setting up of a new corporation to assume the overall responsibility for Internet domain name administration in Hong Kong, the JUCC would be invited to take forward the proposal on the gradual transformation of the institutional arrangement for Internet domain names administration as a matter of priority.
On domain name registration function, he said that some of the more urgent changes to the registration arrangements to facilitate Internet development in Hong Kong, e.g. allowing multiple domain names to be registered by a company or an organization, would be put into effect as soon as possible after the necessary preparatory arrangements had been made. A dispute resolution mechanism based on similar practices abroad would also be set up to provide an efficient and effective means to handle disputes arising from the registration or use of domain names.
Professor Kao noted, however, that the public had reservations over the adoption of a reserved list of Internet domain names and the requirement of a requested domain name to resemble the name or the products/services of the applicant organisation.
"After careful consideration, the Task Force proposes that there is no need to draw up a reserved list nor to require a domain name to resemble the name of a company or its products/services," he added.
The Director of Information Technology Services, Mr K H Lau, paid tribute to the JUCC in respect of its pioneering work, initiatives and contributions in providing ".hk" domain names registration services to the Hong Kong community for the past years.
He said that there was general consensus in the public consultation exercise that the new corporation to carry out Internet domain names administration in future should be spun off from the JUCC, with a provisional board of directors comprising representatives from the academia, the industry, the Government and other organisations, and also individuals, to ensure a wide representation.
"In the longer term, the corporation should be totally devolved from the JUCC. It should operate on a self-financing basis and gradually transform into a membership-based organisation with its directors elected from its members," Mr Lau said, adding that the authority of the corporation should be formalised through some form of endorsement from the Government.
He added that the public supported the following registration principles :
* allowing multiple domain names registration for each company/organization;
* allowing in principle the transfer of domain names with possible safeguards;
* allowing domain name registration by individuals; and
* renewal of domain name registration and renewal fees would be charged to cover the administrative costs involved.
"On dispute resolution, the comments received supported that the new corporation should maintain a neutral role in the handling of disputes arising from the registration or use of domain names ending with .hk," Mr Lau said, adding that the corporation should set up a dispute resolution mechanism based on similar practices overseas as soon as possible. The mechanism had proved to be effective internationally in combating cybersquatting for domain names ending with .com, .net and .org. In Hong Kong, similar to overseas practices, the mechanism could be in the form of engaging service providers to provide dispute resolution services in accordance with stipulated criteria.
Mr Lau also said that the provisional Board of Directors and the new corporation would need to consider and take forward, among others, the following :
* to accord top priority to determining its financial model, as well as the mechanism for recruiting members and electing directors to the corporation;
* given the increasing demand for IP addresses to be deployed, e.g. in mobile devices, and the fact that IP is currently undergoing evolution to its next version, to engage in the deliberation of issues concerning IP address allocation;
* to adopt the single registrar approach initially and to review the subject of multiple registrars in the light of operational experience; and
* as the use of Chinese domain names is still at an embryonic stage and whether a single international Chinese domain name standard would emerge remains to be seen, to closely monitor the latest development in this area.
All submissions received in the consultation exercise have been put on the Government's "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) for public inspection.
End/Monday, July 31, 2000 NNNN