InternetNZ Seeks To Reimagine .NZ’s Future

InternetNZ is seeking to ‘Reimagine the future of .nz’ with the release of a weighty (should you print it) Options Report from their .nz Policy Advisory Panel. The report seeks feedback on .nz’s guiding principles (trusted, safe and secure, open and accessible and for all New Zealanders), whether it should be more engaged with Māori and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, should .nz eligibility be tightened, registrant privacy, conflicted domain names and much more.

The Panel set out in July last year to review InternetNZ’s .nz domain name space policies. They talked to New Zealanders from all walks of life to help develop recommendations that reflected their, and New Zealand’s, attitudes and interests. They found this was not always easy given the limited ways to engage in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdown. Last Friday the Panel released the result of their deliberations: a 112-page “Re-imagining the future of .nz: Options Report”. Now they want to hear from stakeholders about the options and questions raised.

Despite the limitations, the Panel spoke to or heard from many New Zealanders and now they want feedback on the result. The Panel wants to know if New Zealanders agree the .nz domain name space should remain trusted, safe and secure, open and accessible, and managed in a way that develops .nz for all New Zealanders, as well as supporting the use of te reo on the Internet and support Māori participation in .nz. On this, the Panel provides a roadmap for how they think InternetNZ should be collaborating with tangata whenua to achieve positive outcomes.

Given the heft of the report, it’s not surprising it addresses a wide range of issues. The second part explores issues related to .nz policy, and the possible options for responding. Many of the issues stem from the growing sophistication and complexity of the Internet and how it is used, the report notes. Privacy, security, and response to the harmful use of the Internet are pressing issues today, and the .nz policies were developed in a context where these were not priorities.

The Panel has looked at how the .nz domain name space, and the policies themselves can be made more accessible and useful for people who do not speak English primarily, or who use written languages with characters that .nz currently does not support.

Another issue is who should be able to hold a .nz domain name, and whether there should be more restrictions on who can register names based on where they are located.

The .nz policies are currently underpinned by a ‘no concern for use’ principle. The Panel has considered what it would mean for this principle to be revised, to enhance people’s safety and security, and reduce the harmful uses of .nz domain names.

The Panel has also looked at how to end a process that InternetNZ and DNCL have been using for conflicted names. There are many domain names that cannot be registered because multiple parties have claimed rights to them, and this Report looks at ways to move past this.

The Panel has noted that the current model of collecting domain name registration information and sharing it publicly in a searchable database may be failing registrants and undermining their privacy. This Report looks at ways to enhance privacy for registrants, while retaining the accountability and oversight that comes with an open WHOIS protocol.

Finally, this Report looks to the future growth and development of .nz for the benefit of all New Zealanders. The Panel has proposed options for improving how the market operates, and to ensure the relationships between registrants, registrars, resellers and the Registry are working in a way that protects registrants rights and enables the use of .nz to flourish.

The Options Report outlines the thinking behind each of those visionary statements and, unsurprisingly, options for progressing them. The Panel, itself selected from vastly different backgrounds and vastly different interactions with the .nz domain name space, has worked tirelessly with the Secretariat to develop this paper. In announcing the Report, it is noted that not all of the Panel members agreed on all options, but they all agreed it is important to seek feedback on those selected, before putting their final recommendations to InternetNZ this year.

To have your say on the future of .nz, click here. Submissions close 14 August 2020.

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