Most countries secure and own their own internet domain names and in Uganda the reverse is true. Apparently a private company owns Uganda’s Internet domain name — co.ug. This code is reserved for a country, something seen as threat to national security if it’s in the hands of private citizens or firms.
According to the Daily Monitor, the MPs put the ICT minister John Nasasira to task and explain how a private company, i3c, formerly, known as Computer Frontiers, came to own the nation’s domain name. Mr Xavier Kyooma (Ibanda North, NRM) said,
[signoff predefined=”Quotation” icon=”icon-username”]“We cannot afford to leave our domain in private hands when there are criminals in nearly 200 countries lurking online – plotting large-scale attacks as well as smaller attacks aimed at stealing personal information from unsuspecting citizens’ home computers,” [/signoff]
Internet domain names are allocated by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is a US-based not-for-profit public-benefit corporation dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. In Africa, domain name allocation by ICANN is done in conjunction with AFRINIC, a regional registry for Internet number resources serving the African Internet community.
MPs argue that the .ug domain is a national resource, and the world over, governments manage the country code top level domain name, At the minimum, there should be a Public Private Partnership so that government can be held accountable on matters of cyber security. The legislators feel, in case of any problem, we run a risk because sensitive government agencies like Bank of Uganda and Uganda Revenue Authority are using a domain which is controlled by a private operator.
Mr Saaka the NITA boss however said negotiations were in advanced stages for government to reclaim the domain name, he said,
[signoff predefined=”Quotation” icon=”icon-username”]“The thing is that there are people who rushed and obtained the domain name. But we went to Cabinet and a policy on the domain name was approved. We have engaged the company [to relinquish] the top level domain. There is also go.ug which must be purely government. They have done a good job, we cannot just disregard them. We can only discuss with them to see how we can own the domain,” [/signoff]
The MPs resolved to contact the registrar of companies to provide them with the details of the proprietors of i3c and asked the minister to explain the circumstances under which the company took over the domain.