As 2013 draws to a close it is worth looking back at where we have been and consider what 2014 will bring. As usual for DCA, it has been a year of intense activity to ensure that our promise to Africa stands – that “we shall deliver .africa registry to the continent, sooner than expected”.
DCA Trust has a long-standing tradition of informing its African and global constituency on matters affecting the global Internet Governance, ICANN and related African affairs. Our regular Newsletters and Social media Campaigns sites provide us the conduit to keep all informed and more importantly, get feedbak on our initiatives.
Before reviewing the major highlights of what DCA Trust accomplished during the year, I would like to make an extended commentary on the most important global issue of 2013.
From Wikileaks of 2012 to Edward Snowden’s NSA Leaks of 2013:
Implications for Global Internet Governance
2012 will always be remembered as the Year of Wikileaks. Similarly, 2013 shall also be remembered as the year that Edward Snowden, a computer security specialist and former CIA employee and National Security Agency contractor, leaked classified information regarding the NSA global surveillance programs.
Whilst Wikileaks was about US diplomatic cables, the Edward Snowden disclosure of classified NSA information to private media organizations such as the UK Guardian newspaper has had graver implications for global Internet privacy. Unfortunately, the NSA leak presented the United States of America as a country that practically spies on everybody in a most indiscriminate manner, including its own allies. It was revealed that the President of Brazil, Ms. Dilma Rouseff had been spied upon by the USA; a dangerous revelation that compelled her to cancel a planned official visit to the United States of America. The German Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel also complained that her mobile phone had been hacked into, and the ‘usual suspect’ had been listening into all her conversations. The German Government was indignant and complained directly to the US Government. The EU also sought clarifications from the United States. Most foreign leaders demanded that US spying must stop after it was revealed by the Guardian that 35 world leaders had been spied upon after their telephone communications were tapped.
Brazil had to take the matter to the United Nations General Assembly and collaborated with Germany in October to draft a resolution on the US spying allegations that would guarantee the privacy of electronic communications. The consensus resolution on “The right to privacy in the digital age” was adapted on 19th December 2013. It calls on UN Member States to “review their procedures, practices and legislation on the surveillance of communications, their interception and collection of personal data, including mass surveillance, with a view to upholding the right to privacy by ensuring the full and effective implementation of all relevant obligations under international human rights law”. This seems to be the only coordinated reaction by the international community to the US global spying and surveillance activities.
But the revelation is that the US Federal Government has expanded its global electronic surveillance program and is said to have been collecting diverse types of information including email, chat, video-conferencing, file transfers, etc. supplied by Internet companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL, YouTube, etc, although all of them denying it, unless under a court order. These companies are often forced to comply since it is lawful under US laws for them to cooperate with National Intelligence Agencies. The US-based Internet and Telecoms companies (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc.) ordinarily cannot refuse to provide data upon the request of US national security agencies against the backdrop that increased surveillance activities by US National Security operatives are justified by heightened global counter-terrorism efforts that are aimed at discovering and disrupting terrorist threats.
Thus, anything that is happening on the Internet, especially on the Social Media space is no longer private. These recent revelations have clearly shown that Internet user privacy has been significantly undermined and public confidence and trust on the Internet as a communications platform has been considerably eroded.
It is expected that these issues would remain topical throughout 2014 and beyond, as the future of Global Internet Governance is debated. The voices of those calling for a paradigm shift in the architecture of Global Internet Governance towards one that de-emphasizes the centrality of U.S.-based institutions will no doubt become more strident. The NSA leaks and the allegations of widespread international spying activities by the United States of America, including access to millions of data records obtained from Internet and telephone companies, have seriously undercut US moral authority as the custodian of Internet privacy, civil liberties and human rights. The countries that have been clamoring for a new internet Governance model that is led by the UN would try to buttress their case by citing US global Internet surveillance program and global spying activities.
The independent panel that was setup by the US Administration to review the surveillance programs recommended that some restrictions should be placed on NSA spying activities. During 2014, the global community will be closely monitoring the commencement of implementation of policy reforms regarding the US surveillance programs by the NSA.
DCA’s Year in Review
DCA Trust had another year of continuous activity and engagement with matters and event concerning the new gTLD program and the DNS industry generally
In March 2013, DCA Registry Services and its UK Technical Partner CentralNic participated in the African Multi-stakeholder Internet Governance meeting held at the UNECA Conference center in Addis Ababa, Ethioipia from 6-8 Mrach 2013. DCA Trust participated at the event along other African organizations like African IGF, AfriNIC, AFTLD, ISOC Africa, and the ATU and ITU. The delegation noted the urgent need for the improvement of services to make the market viable and profitable and these findings strengthen its promise to work with the ccTLD’s.
DotConnectAfrica then attended and contributed to the “Innovation Africa Digital Summit”, with the theme: “National Broadband Strategies and Agendas: Acceleration and Alignment”, which was also held in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. DCA got the opportunity to clarify the .africa bid to the audience, stating that DotAfrica as an Internet new gTLD resource rightly belongs to ICANN, and that the entire new gTLD program is governed by ICANN under a globally approved process, and the AUC has no authorization to delegate DotAfrica to a registry operator outside the ICANN’s process. DCA explained that Uniforum in its application submitted to ICANN has already given away the legal rights to the .africa registry databases and all intellectual property to the AU, which explains why Uniforum was calling it an AU initiative, the same view that was held by the NEPAD representative who was also a panelist at the forum. DCA Trust has always maintained that all the rights to the new DotAfrica gTLD including the registry databases, rightfully belongs to ICANN according to the stipulations of the new gTLD Program and the associated new gTLD Registry Services Agreement, and that the African Union and UniForum cannot act outside these specifications that have been legally codified and approve.
Also in March, The Republic of Kenya saw the peaceful election of His Excellency, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta and His Deputy, H.E. Mr. William Ruto. DotConnectAfrica Trust (DCA Trust), and its affiliate DCA Registry Services (Kenya) Ltd. was pleased to extend very warm congratulations to the president and country of Kenya.
The following months, in a candid discourse, The Reporter Daily a highly influential and respected source of reliable news to Ethiopians, Africans and globally through its online readership laid out the struggle of DotConnectAfrica and its six year efforts in initiating the .africa gTLD, the first African run gTLD registry business for Africa.
In April, the ICANN-46 International gathering that took place in Beijing, China, DCA participated and learned its .africa application received an objection advice from ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee (GAC), in the Beijing GAC Advice, to which DotConnectAfrica Trust responded. The GAC Objection Advice against DCA’s .Africa application was later accepted by the ICANN Board New gTLD Program Committee (NGPC); a decision that DCA Trust refused to accept because the NGPC failed to perform all required procedures when considering GAC Advice related to Objections such as consultations with independent experts as stipulated in Section 3.1 of the Applicants Guidebook. DCA Trust has therefore challenged the ICANN NGPC decision to accept the GAC Objection Advice, and hopes that this will be resolved during 2014.
To improve our skills in the ever changing ICT spectrum DCA not only train but also participate in training. DotConnectAfrica Registry Services (Kenya) in the month of June participated in a rigorous two-day training programme on DNSSEC that was conducted at the AFRALTI Nairobi.
In July, the DotConnectAfrica team participated in the ICANN-47 International Meeting in Durban, South Africa. DCA’s team were panelist to the Second Africa Domain Name System (DNS) Forum held as a precursor to the ICANN meeting and also raised question to the ICANN Board and GAC on .africa regarding GAC’s treatment of its application.
The world could be such a better place if we did not have tragedies, Kenya had terror visited on its citizens in October. DotConnectAfrica Registry services Kenya, showed solidarity with the people of Kenya during this difficult period and sent our heartfelt condolences and mourned with the victims.
Cooperation with the African Union has never been new to DotConnectAfrica, despite the contentious issues of the recent .Africa TLD. DotConnectAfrica as an African organization has always been interested with the work of the African Union, as a Pan African organization and its objective to serve Africa and its people better. DCA Trust has engaged with the AU at the various levels this year. First of all, DCA Trust has written to the newly elected AU leaders on matters of .africa and the controversy and issues surrounding it has requested a positive resolution of the .africa issue directly with the AU commission. Being one engaged in multi-stakeholder process, DCA Trust has participated and provided our Comments to the very important document Draft African Union Convention on the Establishment of A Credible Legal Framework For Cyber Security. DCA Trust has also contributed to “The African union Vision 2063” an the ambitious future roadmap whose vision for Africa AU says is that of “An Integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena”.
In November, DotConnectAfrica Registry Services actively participated in ICANN and IGF activities. Our dedicated delegates were among more than 1,700 people from around the world that attended the just concludes ICANN-48 International Meeting that took place in Buenos Aires Argentina from November 17, 2013 to November 21, 2013. At the Afralo meeting, DCA reinforced to ICANN that its work is still marginilized at ICANN. DCA has been an active participant at ICANN since 2005, and has championed various ICANN and Africa initiatives, including IDNs, promoting new gTLDs and multi-stakeholder model, Internet Governance issues, and corporate sponsorship of ICANN events. We are an applicant for the .africa new gTLD. However, says DCA, our contributions to the ICANN Process and Africa have been immense, but our knowledge and expertise are yet to be utilized by the current ICANN operatives. Despite the issues at the forum regarding lack of African participation, the process itself has isolated those who actively participate like DCA.
In December 2013, the world came together to mourn, honor and celebrate Africa’s Hero and Giant Iconic Leader Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. DotConnectAfrica Trust took the opportunity to honor and celebrate the Giant Iconic Leader of Africa, calling him: Courageous, Selfless and Noble. We quoted him in our message.
“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say.
Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward.
There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. ”
With such a high note from one of the greatest Legends, we ask that you continue to pray for DCA, DotAfrica and Africa during this Holiday Season period and beyond.
2013 has been a great and busy year for Yes2dotAfrica campaign but thanks to your support it has been worth the while. We did apply for the .africa gTLD in 2012 as promised in our campaigns. We are still going through the rigorous ICANN processes to ensure that we deliver our promise come 2014.
On behalf of DCA and myself, I wish you peace, joy and Goodwill this Holiday Season
for Africa and the world!.
See you all in 2014!
Happy Holidays & Happy New Year