.Za Alternative Dispute Resolution Regulations: The First Few SAIIPL Decisions: Lex Informatica Conference, 21st-23rd May 2008 Pretoria, South Africa

By Pistorius, Tana | Journal of Information, Law and Technology, January 2009 | Go to article overview

.Za Alternative Dispute Resolution Regulations: The First Few SAIIPL Decisions: Lex Informatica Conference, 21st-23rd May 2008 Pretoria, South Africa


Pistorius, Tana, Journal of Information, Law and Technology


1 South African Domain Name Administration & Zadna (1)

South Africa's domain name system has grown very informally since the Internet made its first appearance in the country in 1980s when the .za domain-name space was administered by UNINET (Vecciatto, 2007). The idea that an independent Domain Name Authority be established for South Africa was first raised in a discussion paper in 1999. The next year this was formally raised as a governmental policy in the Green Paper (2000) of the Department of Communications . The proposal was met with disbelief and it was vehemently opposed by the Namespace ZA (2002), the industry stakeholder. The South African government remained convinced that its involvement in the .za DNS was crucial for the emerging information economy. The government believed that the policy-formulation process in the ICT arena should be inclusive of all stakeholders. The view was also expressed that the new economy, like all other free-market economies, is not perfect and therefore requires the government's intervention, particularly in the formulation of policy, to extend services to both public institutions and citizens who wish to access such services (Green Paper, 2000).

The South African Government enacted its policy with the establishment of the .za Domain Name Authority (Zadna) as a section-21 company in the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, 2002 (s. 59). The objects, powers, and matters incidental to the incorporation of the company are provided for in sections 59-67 of the ECT Act. The Minister is empowered to establish a national policy concerning the .za DNS (s. 68). The Authority is responsible for administering and managing the .za domain name space in compliance with international best practices and to licence and regulate registries and registrars. The Authority must also publish guidelines on the general administration and management of the .za domain name space and facilitate and maintain public access to a repository (s. 65; Marx, 2004, pp 125-127).

On 18 May 2007 Zadna assumed responsibility for the administration and management of the .za domain-name space . Since its inception the Zadna has focused its efforts on developing suitable policies and procedures for improved management of the .za domain space (Vecchiatto, 2007). On 30 July 2007 the Zadna's policies and procedures were published . In terms of these policies a single registry model must be adopted and role-players will be invited to apply for licences as registry operators and registrars.

At present, several organisations administer the various .za second level domains. For instance, .co.za is administered by UniForum and .org.za by Internet Solutions. The .mil.za, and .gov.za SLDs are respectively administered by the South African National Defence Force, the State IT Agency. Other SLDs are administered by private individuals. A major concern is the SLD administrators' infrastructure to support public domain names. When the licensing regime is introduced the DNA will administer these domains. However, the Zadna has yet to promulgate licensing regulations with clear technical requirements (Du Toit, 2007).

2. .za Domain Name ADR Procedure

South Africa's Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Regulations were promulgated in November 2006 in terms of section 69 read with section 94 of the ECT Act. Domain name ADR procedures are necessary due to the fact that a lack of harmonisation between the Domain Name System and trade mark law has allowed a number of illegal practices to emerge, including the deliberate, bad-faith registration of well-known trade marks as domain names, a practice known as "cyber squatting" (British Telecommunications Plc v. …

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