US court puts a halt on .africa domain

The protracted battle for the rights as to who can be made responsible for the issuing of the .africa domain has taken another turn in the Central District Court of California.

It was ruled at the beginning of the month that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) can’t appoint (for now) South Africa’s ZA Central Registry (ZACR) as the custodians thereof.

Effectively, that means ICANN can’t appoint ZACR (or anybody else for that matter) to run the .africa domain, which in turn means no .africa websites – for now.

Some time ago ZACR was given the all-clear by ICANN to operate the domain, but DotConnectAfrica Trust (DCA) took umbrage to the appointment, and applied to the courts in the US to stop it.

DCA’s main argument was that its application was improperly processed, and after much to-ing and fro-ing and a Temporary Restraining Order against ICANN, the California court heard the matter on 4th April.

According to court documents, the court granted a preliminary injunction in favour of DotConnectAfrica Trust which “prohibits defendant Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers from delegating the rights to the generic top-level domain (“gTLD”) “.Africa” until the case resolves.”

Interestingly, the court sided with DCA’s position that the .africa domain can only be issued once, and if “DCA’s application was improperly processed and ICANN is not barred from delegating the .Africa rights, DCA could suffer irreparable harm losing the chance to control the .Africa domain.”

The .Africa domain was supposed to go live more than two years ago, and it seems like there is no end in sight as to when the matter will be resolved.

For now, the issuing of .africa websites and the domain as a whole will be halted until the court can decide who the rightful administrator of the domain should be.



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