Submission to Council of Ministers on the .tp Domain Name and the Official English National Name of "Timor Leste"
That the International Standards Organisation and the United Nations Statistics Division be contacted and the name 'Timor Leste' (and the abbreviation, TLS) be reverted to 'East Timor' (and the abbreviation, TMP) immediately.
That the .tp domain space be retained and commercial developments exploited.
That the Administrative Contact be redelegated from an individual to a representative of the Government ex-officio.
That the Technical Contact be retained subject to a contract between the Government of East Timor and the Technical Contact.
That a state-owned enterprise be established in partnership with connect.ie for commercial exploitation and state infrastructure development of the .tp domain space with a Memorandum of Understanding.
That charitable organizations be established internationally with technical support from connect.ie and administrative support from the East Timorese government to exploit the possibility of an international telephone directory through the domain.
That the *.gov.tp, *.edu.tp and *.mil.tp domain spaces be developed immediately for information services (world wide web, ftp achives etc) and communictaions (email).
Concerns of this issue were first raised in November 2002.
The sponoring organization for East Timor's cctld is Leleia. The Administrative Contact is Xanana Gusmao (email@example.com). The
technical contact is Martin Maguire, hostmaster at Connect-Ireland (firstname.lastname@example.org).
According to the BBC, the project was initiated by Connect-Ireland and the 1996 Nobel Prize winners Ramos Horta and Bishop Belo.
To date, there are two government (*.gov.tp) registrations in the top-level domain (mfac.gov.tp, mopf.gov.tp). There are military (*.mil.tp) or educational (*.edu.tp) registered with the .tp cctld, although primary registries have been established at some stage in
Ireland. There are a small number of private businesses (e.g., telstra.tp) and non-government organisations (oxfam.org.tp) who have
registered through the cctld.
There is one government website under the domain. (http://www.mfac.gov.tp)
Hosting the .tp domain in Ireland is strategically useful, providing excellent bandwidth given the high Internet useage in Europe, Canada and the United States, although this is hardly the sole location that is strategically useful.
There have been a number of expressions to change the cctld from .tp (representing Timor Portugese) to .tl (Timor Leste). The cctld .et is not available (held by Ethopia).
Whilst such a change would remove a symbolic colonial legacy (and add a new one, as 'Leste' is a Portuguese word), concerns are expressed that this would weaken the capacity of East Timor to generate substantial income through a suggested international telephone directory using the .tp mnenomic.
Such a directory would consist of a simple interface (like www.google.com) where a user could enter a name and be provided with a
list of subscribers with that name, according to nation, address, email address, telephone (landline) and mobile. For subscribers, an fee of $1/year, with automatic payments deducted on December 25 annually and with subscriber determined data (e.g., they could decide to keep their mobile number 'silent' in the directory).
Initial estimates suggest that such a directory could earn several million dollars per annum for East Timor. This cannot be done with the change of name and domain as there will be a loss of the .tp mnenomic.
These estimates are carefully considered. Internet growth must be considered in making these estimates. In 1996 there was almost 16,729,000 Internet hosts. This number has since consistently increased and shows no signs of letting up: In 1997, 26,053,00 hosts, in 1998 36,4739,000, in 1999 56, 218,000, in 2000 93,047,765, in 2001 125,888,197 and in 2002 162,128,493. Each individual on each of these hosts is a potential customer. They are primarily centered around the high income regions of Western Europe and North America.
Further, East Timor is in the unusual situation of having more international sympathizers than actual citizens. This weakens the prospect of competitive nations in the development of such a directory (there is only one, The Phillipines, with .ph). The primary motivation for people will not be so much the utility of the directory (although that has some benefit), but the fact that the finances are going to East Timor. As such, it is strongly recommended that any collection agency be established as a charitable, NGO-institution.
Use of ccTLD for income generation is becoming common for impoverished nations. Tuvula, with the .tv ccTLD, has sold thousands of subdomains of this lucrative name and the managing corporation that manages the domain, "The .TV Corporation", previously owned by the Tuvula government was purchased in 2002 by Verisign by $45 million dollars). More recently, the government of the People's Democratic Republic of Laos, through their agency LANIC and the Gernsey (UK) based LA Names Corporation a subsidiary of Ireland's Afilias Ltd., has arranged for the sale of .la domains at $50 per year. In the first month some 10,000 addresses have been registered and they expect 1 million addresses to be registered over the next few years (i.e, $50 000 000 annual income).
Finally, managing a cctld is no simple task and is certainly well beyond the skill levels of any East Timorese nationals and is likely to remain so for several years. Such a domain would certainly have to be hosted off-shore due to the low bandwidth that this nation receives.
The World Wide Top Level Domain Allaince (wwtld) has initiated cctld training currently consisting of an introduction to the Domain Name System (DNS), the maintenance of DNS registries and server management and security.
IANA does not determine country codes. This is decided by the International Standards Organisation, specifically the ISO 3166 Maintenance Authority. It is only possible to be listed in ISO 3166 if a country is either:
- a member country of the United Nations,
- a member of one of its specialized agencies or
- a party to the Statute of the International Court of Justice.
- in the list of names in the code of the UN Statistics Division is based on the bulletin Country Names and other UN sources. Once a country name or territory name appears in either of these two sources, it will be added to ISO 3166-1 by default.
A recent decision has been made to change the official English-language name of East Timor to 'Timor Leste', evident in the United Nations Statistical Division (Terminology Bulletin No. 347/Rev.1: Country Names). This is despite the fact that 'Leste' has no meaning in English and is a translation from the Portuguese. Evidently there has been no consideration to mention the problems as a English-language collective known.
With this the official abbreviation of the nationality is also changed from TMP to TLS. IANA/ICANN will automatically follow the decision, remove .tp as a ccTLD and replace it with .tl. This will cause significant disruption in the existing network.
There is no other country in the world which uses it's national language name as the translation to the official English language name. It is the equivalent, for example, of referring to Croatia as Hrvatske.
This is not an issue of identity or sovereignity, but a matter of linguistic facticity, which has the further impetus of financial
responsibility and common sense. The people of Croatia refer to their country as "Hrvatske". The people of East Timor refer to their country "Timor Leste" or "Timor Lorosa'e" (depending on which official national language is used).
"Identity" and "sovereignty" is the capacity of a nation-state to make laws and enforce those decisions. No doubt, under this guise, the Government of East Timor can define whatever name it so desires, and thus whatever cccTLD it so desires. But it is irresponsible to make such a decision for political reasons when it will condemn a population to poverty. It is certain this is how political "leaders" will be remembered by those who have to live with the effects of such decisions.
Note that a ccTLD does not have to equate with the official English-language ISO 3166 name. Croatia (the official name) uses .hr as its ccTLD. Cambodia uses .kh, and Mayotte is .yt. Having a ccTLD with financial utility is really a matter of luck and little else.
3. Actions Required
The Government must contact the International Standards Organisation ISO 3166 Maintenance Authority to ensure that the official English name of the country is 'East Timor', the national abbreviation is TMP and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers that the ccTLD is .tp
Connect-Ireland, the Technical Administrators for the .tp domain space, must be immediately approached to ensure a transfer of Administrative Contact, commercial and public development of the .tp domain space and in particular a Public-Private Partnership and Memorandum of Understanding.
Further, Connect-Ireland and the Government of East Timor must cooperate in the establishment of charitable organizations to harness the income-earning potential of an international telephone directory.
4. Financial Implications
The financial implications of the change of name policy evidently have not been considered. They consist of two parts, costs arising from the change of name and income forgone from the change of name.
Significant financial costs arise from the change of name through reestablishing existing email addresses, websites, official printed correspondence etc that have the name "East Timor". This includes email addresses from two government ministries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation website, and the re-establishment of existing domains under the .tp domain.
However these costs are trivial compared to the issue of forgone income mentioned in this document.
5. Public Risks
Negotiation between the Government of East Timor and the administration of Connect Ireland is required to ensure a smooth transition in administrative and (when necessary technical) contracts.
The change of the official English name from "East Timor" to "Timor Leste" must be reversed. The change has no linguistic or political
justification, causes significant administrative disarray, induces substantial costs and forgoes income in the realm of millions of dollars.
Information and Communications Technology Policy Advisor
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation
Policy version 1.0, June 20, 2003
British Broadcasting Commisison
Host Map of the Internet
Internet Software Consortium, Number of Hosts
LA Names Corporation
Network Information Centre, East Timor
Verisign Corporate News
World Wide Top Level Domain Alliance