The Electronic and Postal Communications (Domain Names Management) Regulations GN NO. 940 of 2020 (“DNM Regulations 2020”) regulates the management of domain names in Tanzania.
Regulation 2 defines a “domain name” to be a unique name that identifies internet resources such as websites that is registered as second level and/or third level domain under .tz ccTLD.
Regulation 3 (1) makes it a mandatory requirement for the use .tz country code for all domain name holders in Tanzania and Regulation 3(2) provides that entities must use their registered domain names for all official correspondences.
The types of .tz domain names that can be registered can be found at https://karibu.tz/learn and on the 5th Schedule of the Regulations. In order to register, Regulation 3(3) provides that the registration of the domain names can only be performed by accredited Registrars. The regulator has provided a list of accredited registrars: https://karibu.tz/domains/registrars/.
Those intending to register their domain names would need to comply to Regulation 9(2) which requires there to be a registration application form and payment of the registration fees or any other service fees in connection with such registration as set out in the 2nd Schedule of the Regulations.
Upon submitting applications, the Accredited Registrar is required to communicate to the Applicant and verify the identification details within 2 working days (as per Reg. 9(3)) and enter into an agreement for registration and management of domain names. The Agreement must adhere to Regulation 9(4) and 9 (5) (a), (b), (c), (d) which outlines the mandatory terms and conditions such as; provision for the applicant’s consent that Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) shall have powers to access the domain name holder’s data; any party may at any time terminate its agreement if the other party has grossly breached the agreement; the defined conditions under which the holder of domain name may change the registrar; and provisions requiring parties’ compliance to the regulations, technical specifications and guidelines issued by TCRA.
Upon full registration TCRA is to assign the use of the registered domain name to the registered holder (Reg. 9(7)).
Once registered, a domain name is valid for one year subject to renewal as intimated by Reg. 12(1). It may be renewed for several years upon payment of fees but not more than five years at once (Reg. 12(3)).
A registered domain name may also be transferred. It may be transferred to a new holder only upon written request to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) through the Registrar. It is to be noted that such transfer shall not affect the original day of expiration of the domain name. Therefore it is crucial to check and consider expiry of the domain name in the process of transfer as per Regulation 11(1) and Regulation 11(4).
DOMAIN NAME DISPUTE RESOLUTION
Anyone who registers a .tz domain with any accredited Registrar of his choice automatically agrees, through the registration agreement/form, with all domain registration rules and policies governing the .tz ccTLD administration and management. The dispute resolution policy and rules form part of the governing documents and they are meant to protect against abusive registrations /cyber squatting. The policy and rules provide protection against the following registrations: a) Identical or confusingly similar to a mark; b) Rights or legitimate use of a mark; and c) Usage of a mark in a bad faith.
Pursuant to Regulation 23 the holder of a registered domain name that has been aggrieved by a decision of an accredited registrar may file a complaint to TCRA. The complaint shall be handled by TCRA who is to serve the accredited registrar with a copy of the complaint and require a reply within 7 days. Upon the reply, TCRA is to summon the parties, conduct hearing and give its decision within 14 days. Additionally, Regulation 23 (4) it is provides for appeal mechanism for a party not satisfied by the decision made by TCRA to the Fair Competition Tribunal (FCT).
Regulation 24 caters to disputes between domain name holders or between a domain name holder and a third party are to be handled by any of the by dispute resolution providers authorised by TCRA. A list of the authorised dispute resolution providers together with their guidelines as published on the TCRA’s website can found at https://karibu.tz/domains/dispute/. Notably, the list includes iResolve as the only approved local dispute resolution provider for .tz.
The approved providers handle the disputes in accordance with .tz Regulations and the Providers Supplemental Rules as amended from time to time. Upon determination of the dispute by the service providers neutrals, TCRA is to implement the decision made by a dispute resolution provider. Dispute Resolution provider, provide efficient (in terms of time and cost) dispute resolution services to .tz registrants.
The appellate mechanism for a party aggrieved by the decision of the dispute resolution provider may seek redress from a court of law as per Regulation 24 (4).
A contravention of any provision of the DNM Regulations 2020 amounts to an offence which upon conviction, one may be liable to a fine of not less than 5 million shillings or to imprisonment for a term of not less than 12 months or to both (Reg. 25(1)).
For further reading: See the Report of the Arusha Women School of Internet Governance in September 2021 summarising the new reforms as presented by Madeline Kimei, Founder & Principle Director, iResolve.