Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dirty tricks with official domain names in Argentina

It seems that the same winds that have consistently made many Latin America nations to be in continuous process of under-development are blowing again, and I am not talking about any ominous foreign influence but about the lack of rule of law and the use of the public resources to benefit a person or political party. And the government of Argentina, probably jealous for loosing the regional leadership in not respecting the rule of law to some of its friends a little norther, has decided to commit some domain name registration anomalies to try to regain the title as the one that respects the law less in the area.
Not happy with having the wife of the President representing the country and even signing international treaties on behalf of it, which clearly represents a very lax interpretation of the principles established in the Argentine Constitution, especially arts 72 and 99 (you would imagine that only the president or the minister of foreign affairs would do that, but in Argentina, being a senator and wife of the President is enough qualification even if the senate has not given its authorization as required in the art. 72 of the Argentine Constitution), it seems that the wife of the President is a public institution on her own merits, or at least she is one for domain registration purposes.
On 9 May the domain was registered by the presidency's spokesman, Miguel Núñez, even the official rules limit the domain names using to government organizations at federal, provincial and municipal level, being barred its use for particular persons. If that irregularity wasn’t enough, the same person, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner got a very exclusive top-level domain name,, without any gov. com. or anything like that, of which are only few in the whole country. There are less than twenty .ar domain names, belonging to organizations that pre-existed the Network Information Center Argentina or that have a supra-governmental purpose, like (since the first category does not apply, is the NIC suggesting that the President wife’s candidacy is a State’s matter that goes beyond the government aims? (with “beyond” meaning “above” or "more important" here)). Not satisfied with violating the NIC Argentina rules for domain name registration, the domain name, which was liked to, is owned by Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner with domicile at 24 Balcarce Street, the address of the Presidency’s office also known as the Pink House.The domain name has as contact the mentioned Miguel Núñez, who also gives as his address the Pink House and as his phone numbers his offices’ ones. Needles to say that even some Argentine legislation may seem bizarre, the law clearly does not goas as far as allowing the use of public resources to benefit a potential candidate.
Another questions that pop into people’s minds is how the procedures were handled. According to the law, a domain name registration can be completed online, but the data submitted has the character of sworn statement and for a domain name a official letter with letterhead and signature of the official in charge (in original) needs to be submitted to the NIC. Who signed that request?
Are these the people that took power to get rid of the “old politics”? If they cannot get rid of the “old politics”, can they let the domain name systems out of their dirty business?
I hope that situations like this help to explain why in several informal conversations during the IGF in Athens I said that it was better to keep ICANN as it is and far from some countries public officials’ hands…

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