Kyrgyzstan Govt Considers Draconian Changes to .KG ccTLD

The Kyrgyzstan government is rushing to pass legislation that would see management of the ccTLD transferred from the current manager of the ccTLD, AsiaInfo who has managed the .kg ccTLD since 1997, to KyrgyzPatent, the government patent office. It is feared this transfer will see government interference into who can register .kg domain names.

It is feared that transferring management of the ccTLD to KyrgyzPatent will see domain registrations requiring trademark ownership, a significant barrier to domain name registration. Further, the government could then decide who can and cannot hold a .kg domain name.

Already there are financial barriers to registering a .kg domain name with registrations currently costing US$100 for the first year and $60 for each subsequent year. This is a significant premium on a .com domain name which regularly costs under $20 per year.

The changes have offended internet users in Kyrgyzstan such as Oleg Zherebko, director of the Kyrgyzstani Association of Communications Operators.

“What is more dreadful is not only the fact that those behind the offered change do not put users interests first as it is in most of the countries, which have faced with the similar change, but violates fundamental human rights on the freedom on expression and on the freedom of choice through Internet control,” said Zherebko.

There are also fears the changes will lead to requirements such as showing trademark ownership of a word, which significantly increases the barrier to acquisition of domain names. The trademark office could also politically punitive with anyone the government doesn’t like finding it very difficult to register a domain name. This could be done through increasing prices. KyrgyzPatent ccould easily require a trademark but with payment of US$1,000 for a trademark before requiring the $100 domain name. Currently a trademark registration costs $365.

The process of transition from a democratic state, which most central Asian claimed Kyrgyzstan once was, and accepted as the “island of democracy” by the International community, seems to fade away as a result of the new “modern” innovations brought by the new administration and by those who are inspired by the ideas of a necessary change.

According to AkiPress a transfer of regulation of the .KG ccTLD from “AsiaInfo” company, which has managed the .KG ccTLD since 1997 to state control, is one of the best examples of the end of democracy in Kyrgyzstan. According to the CIA World Factbook, since 2001 internet users in Kyrgyzstan have grown from 51,600 users to 750, 000 users, which for a country of 5.3 million people is huge progress.

What is more dreadful is not only the fact that those behind the offered change do not put users interests first as it is in most of the countries, which have faced with the similar change, but violates fundamental human rights on the freedom on expression and on the freedom of choice through Internet control.