New .CO.ZA Registration Rules Could Do More Harm Than Good

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The dotZA Domain Name Authority (ZADNA) has published draft rules aimed at further regulating the registration and operation of websites in South Africa.

For local hosting companies that offer domain name registrations and registrar services, additional license conditions and fees payable via the registry may impact their ability to offer competitive pricing, this is according to South African web-hosting company 1-grid which has raised concerns over the new rules.

1-grid currently services 35,000 customers across the country, including loot.co.za and restaurant Kauai.

The proposed changes come less than a year after the 2021 domain registration fee increase.

“Our concern is that the costs related to compliance and licensing will end up being passed on to the consumer, which in turn will have a knock-on effect for local hosting companies. If a potential registrant has the choice of registering a .com domain more easily than a .co.za, this may put them off a .co.za domain,” says Thomas Vollrath, head of 1-grid.

New Registration Rules

As part of the new rules, registrars must collect and store identity documents, physical addresses, and contact information of people wishing to register .za domains.

Additionally, registrars must apply for a license, which will be valid for 10 years; non-commercial registrars that stop operating must provide customer registration data to ZADNA, and registrars must provide broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) information with their license application — specifically details of BEE ownership.

“Even when implemented with the best of intentions, restrictions run the risk of creating a barrier to entry. While we support the work of the registry in ensuring that the domain database is accurate, we also believe in an open market. Internationally, we’ve seen that the most successful registries have been the ones that ensure widescale open access to domains, without unnecessary barriers to registration,” opines Vollrath.

Only 1.3-million .co.za domains are currently registered in South Africa, says 1-grid.

“To support local providers and promote industry growth, we should be encouraging South Africans to invest in local domains. Our hope is that additional license conditions and fees do not end up increasing the costs of domains to the end-user – which might deter them from purchasing a .co.za domain,” he said.

Public comments for the proposed new regulations are open until 6 June 2022.


Edited by Luis Monzon
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