A couple of reports from the people behind .nz have shown the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on New Zealanders and their internet use in recent months. Statistics for .nz shows increased DNS activity, including a surge in registrations that has taken registrations to close to 715,000.
New Zealand’s Domain Name Commission (DNC) had their third victory in three appearances in their ongoing court battle with DomainTools, the latest being in March. DomainTools had appealed three claims, following losing their first appeal, but won only one, while the DNC won the remaining two, with consideration being given by the DNC to appeal the remaining claim. It is a battle over whether a top-level domain registry protect the privacy of their registrants. As Jordan Carter, InternetNZ’s CEO, told the Goldstein Report back in March 2019, “this test case will be significant for protecting the privacy rights of .nz registrants in the .nz domain name space and it is likely to have an impact on other ccTLDs and the wider industry.” It seems that the privacy rights of .nz registrants has been protected.Continue reading .NZ Gets Another Victory In DomainTools Battle Over registrant Privacy Rights
An independent review into the body responsible for regulating New Zealand’s ccTLD, the Domain Name Commission, has found “there is much for current and past DNCL staff to be proud of” and that it “is a sound and competent regulator of the .nz space.”
It’s the first regulatory review into the Domain Name Commission and was undertaken over 2018-2019 by independent reviewer David Pickens and was published Thursday. It’s a far cry from New Zealand’s neighbours Australia where a government review published in April 2018 found “urgent reforms are necessary” and that auDA’s “current management framework is no longer fit-for-purpose and reform is necessary if the company is to perform effectively and meet the needs of Australia’s internet community.”
The independent reviewer found DNCL staff are well regarded for their achievements, and there is much optimism with respect to where the DNCL is heading.
One of the findings of the report is “against the theory of regulatory standards and enforcement theory, the evidence available to the review and from the interviews, the DNCL is a sound and competent regulator of the .nz space. It is highly regarded internationally and operates absent many of the handicaps other TLDs contend with. With small exceptions, the .nz policies and the enforcement of those standards were viewed as appropriate.”
The report notes that “overwhelmingly, the response from the DNCL’s stakeholders was positive, with one exception… The majority offered no or minor criticism only. Favourably commented upon were the people, culture, systems and comparative international performance.”
The one exception was criticism of how the DNC deals with domain name abuse but even here there were diverging views with criticism not coming from all respondents.
“All regulators and a number of other stakeholders felt the DNCL needed to more actively reduce opportunities for domain name abuse. Harm was being perpetrated that the DNCL was uniquely positioned to stop, New Zealand was now out of step with international developments, there was a growing risk to integrity and confidence in the .nz space and legal and political risks to the DNCL was growing. Nearly all, however, acknowledged the DNCL appeared more open to debating and moving towards a more proactive role, and its recent efforts were supported.”
With this though there were “a significant number of people who supported the status quo, arguing policing this activity was not the DNCL’s responsibility and that comparatively New Zealand performed well. It was also argued greater policing efforts would be costly and generate little benefit.”
One key weakness identified during interviews was “the absence of well-developed indicators allowing comparison of the DNCL’s performances with comparable entities overseas.”
“This has been a huge amount of work for Mr Pickens, and we thank him for the thought-provoking report,” said DNCL Chair Jordan Carter.
“Since the Domain Name Commission was established in 2002 to regulate the .nz online space, the .nz space has evolved. In today’s online era, the .nz domain is at the heart of New Zealand’s distinctive online world.”
The Domain Name Commissioner Brent Carey welcomed the review findings saying “Mr Pickens’ recommendations will help to ensure we are keeping pace with modern self-regulatory challenges”.
“The Commission and InternetNZ will be looking to work with others to equip us with the right relationships and tools to help us keep .nz fair and safe for everyone.”
There were a number of recommendations made by Pickens including that “the DNCL should view itself more as a competitor against other TLD administrators and regulators,” “to explore the utility of a comprehensive information disclosure regime to drive better performance across registrars in the .nz space”, to collect and disseminate performance data, “seek international co-operation”, “rescinding the current market concentration policies” and to collect market concentration information “with respect to the abuse of market power by registrars”.
In responding to the report, the DNCL have “already commenced the implementation of some of the recommendations and will continue to incorporate the report’s findings and recommendations in its priorities.”
Additionally, the DNCL “have identified several improvement areas including, process improvement, delivery capability, emerging policy considerations, stakeholder relationship management and enforcement and compliance.”
Of the 15 recommendations in the report, the DNCL note they either fully support or support in principle every one of them.
The Commission has published the full final review along with its response to the recommendations. For the report, Pickens conducted 23 interviews with DNC stakeholders, current and past staff, Board members, staff of the other two main players in the .nz space (InternetNZ and the Registry), Government and self-regulators and registrars. Specialists from overseas and those delivering the Disputes Resolution Service were also interviewed. Registrants were sought out, although many interviewed were .nz registrants.
New Zealand’s Domain Name Commissioner has been sharing its expertise both in New Zealand and among a couple of Pacific countries, signing 4 Memorandums of Understanding, the latest announced this week with Papua New Guinea’s ccTLD manager.
Previous MoUs have been with CERT NZ, The Telecommunications and Radiocommunications Regulator of Vanuatu and the Digital Safety Directorate in NZ’s Department of Internal Affairs.
In the latest MoU [pdf] with the Department of Information Technology of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology, who manages the country’s country code top level domain (ccTLD) .pg, the DNC will collaborate and cooperate on rules and regulations, dispute resolution, consumer protection and any other issues that emerge.
It appears registrations of .pg domain names are restricted to Papua New Guinea entities with com.pg and net.pg domain names requiring proof they’re for bona fide PNG businesses. Other second level .pg domain names available for registration include org.pg, gov.pg and ac.pg.
The DNC is a body appointed by InternetNZ, who is delegated to manage .nz, to develop and monitor a competitive registrar market, as well as create a fair environment for the registration and management of .nz domain names.
Recently the DNC has been seeking feedback on its first Independent Review, giving New Zealanders and anyone else that’s interested an opportunity to have their say on how the Commission can best serve the sellers, buyers and service providers in the .nz domain name industry and how the Commission should represent itself at international fora alongside InternetNZ. Consultation closes on 6 June.
New Zealand’s Domain Name Commission this week won a motion for preliminary injunction in a US court [pdf] to prevent DomainTools from accessing .nz’s Whois details and downloading the information into their own database.
The DNC, whose role they describe as being to develop and monitor a competitive registrar market, as well as creating a fair environment for the registration and management of New Zealand’s country code top level domain, comes under the InternetNZ umbrella. They viewed the victory as important for the .nz domain name space and for domain name holders wanting to keep some of their personal details from public view. It also strikes a precedent for other registries wanting to keep registrant data private.
The preliminary injunction prevents DomainTools from “sending ‘high volume’ queries, “accessing the .nz Register ‘in bulk’”, “storing or compiling register data”, “publishing historical or non-current versions of the register data; and publishing register data in bulk.”
In the leadup to the decision, in November 2017 the DNC allowed individual registrants who are not in trade to choose to withhold their phone number and contact address from publicly appearing in the domain registrant search (Whois). Earlier this year, this became mandated. More than 20,000 domain names have already taken up the privacy option.
Domain Name Commissioner, Brent Carey, says winning this lawsuit is good news for .nz domain name holders and their privacy.
“The ruling allows the Commission to continue balancing online accountability with respect for individual privacy. The ruling temporarily puts to an end DomainTools’ bulk harvesting of .nz domain holders’ personal information and selling that data for a profit.
DomainTools argued that this lawsuit may cause an avalanche of litigation as other registries attempt to protect the privacy of their registrants – and Judge Lasnik stated they may be correct.
“We look forward to presenting our full case to the Court, as we seek to permanently prevent DomainTools from ever building a secondary .nz database offshore and outside the control of the Domain Name Commission,” says Carey.
In court, DomainTools requested $3.5 million (over NZ$5m) in bond to compensate for reworking database files to ensure that .nz data is not provided to its customers. However, the judge ruled that a nominal bond of only $1,000 (NZ$1,500) is required.
Over 22,000 individuals with .nz domain names have chosen to have the Individual Registrant Privacy Option (IRPO) applied, New Zealandâs Domain Name Commissioner has revealed in their August update.
The DNC notes this reflects a significant shift in online spaces more generally, with many users taking a stronger approach to privacy online. In the .nz domain name space, the DNC notes itâs critical to strike the right balance between fostering transparency and accountability, while enabling users to take control of their privacy. The IRPO was designed to do just that.
The DNC reminds that not all .nz registrants qualify to use IRPO, and misuse of the service is something that the DNC will be looking at in greater detail in the coming months. Eligibility is limited to:
- an identifiable individual (i.e., not a company or organisation), and
- not using the domain name to any significant extent in trade.
As a result of the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation, there has also been seen an increase in the use of third-party privacy options and proxy services. These are not permissible under .nz policy. The DNC will be addressing the use of these services by working with the providers offering these.
For the complete August update, which also provides updates on International Outreach, the latest Board meeting, a Registrar Advisory Group meeting, Making .nz safe, trusted and secure, NetHui dates and the development of a strawman Cyber Security Strategy by the National Cyber Policy Office, see:
Brent Carey has come home and will be heading New Zealand’s Domain Name Commission, according to an announcement from the Chair and Board of the Domain Name Commission. Carey will take the DNC into a new phase after the Organisational Review of the InternetNZ group during 2017.
âBrent left the Office of the Australian Telecommunications Ombudsman to join the DNCL in July 2017 as the Chief Operations and Policy Officer after an international recruitment process. We are pleased to have found someone with extensive compliance, commercial and stakeholder skills in Brentâ, says David Farrar, Chair of the DNCL Board
Brent Carey has over 18 yearsâ experience in customer service, regulatory, compliance and integrity roles throughout Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Brent has a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts from Victoria University of Wellington and a graduate diploma in Dispute Resolution (Industry) from BoxHill Institute, Australia. He is a life member of the Australian Privacy Foundation, a past board member of the International Association of Privacy Professionals Australia/New Zealand and a member of Veski Connection a leading group of scientists and business leaders committed to supporting the State of Victoriaâs science and innovation communities.
Brent is excited to bring his experience in innovation to the .nz space. He is a Director of Taranaki based online butchery startup Green Meadows Beef Ltd and has been a past chairman of a not-for-profit organisation, Rainbow Youth NZ.
âThis is an exciting time for the .nz space. I am looking forward in the first few months in the role to tell our story better, work with our data and to involve all of .nzâs stakeholders to ensure we work together for the future of New Zealandâs internet communities.â Says Brent Carey.
Mr Carey will act in the role from 15 January before his formal appointment in the middle of March 2018.
The InternetNZ Council has released plans to merge the 3 bodies that manage different aspects of .NZ into one. The plans follow an organisational review of the InternetNZ group (InternetNZ, the Domain Name Commission and NZRS) initiated by the Council in late 2016.
The current structure was designed in 2002 and has not been reviewed since 2008. The scale and impact of the Internet on society over the past decade has been enormous and is evolving rapidly – making InternetNZ’s role as a voice for the local internet community even more important. The review sought to understand whether we are still best setup to deliver on our vision in this changing environment.
InternetNZ’s current organisational approach was developed from 2000 to 2002 to support responsibilities for running the .nz ccTLD. This saw the membership-based incorporated society setting up two focused centres of expertise and governance:
- a domain name policy function, to develop and enforce the .nz policy framework, authorise registrars, represent .nz internationally, provide a Dispute Resolution Service and assure the service quality of the .nz offering (now DNCL)
- a registry function, to develop and operate the Shared Registry System and the DNS infrastructure for .nz (NZRS).
InternetNZ is responsible for “the strategic direction and operationally deliver on the Objects of the Society.”
The consultation paper notes that the “evolution of the policy framework for .nz is largely complete, and no major policy issues are foreseen in the near future. DNCL has been considering how to best resource the current work programme which may result in a smaller organisation.”
The Council is now consulting on a proposed change to our organisational design which, if accepted, would see the three organisations merge to become one, governed by one Council. If the proposals are accepted, the size and composition of the Council will be reviewed in 2018 including whether to reduce the size and how to ensure the right skills are on board to support high quality governance.
If the proposed changes are accepted they would be implemented in 2 key phases:
- The first phase would be to establish a new Chief Executive position for the proposed consolidated organisation, employed by InternetNZ and appointed by the Council
- In the second phase, the person appointed to the proposed new Chief Executive position would be tasked with reviewing and proposing a structure for the organisation with little change below the Chief Executive level.
In this interim period, the current senior managers in InternetNZ, DNCL and NZRS would move to report to the new Chief Executive, with a small number of other minor changes to reporting lines in order to ensure the number of direct reports to the proposed new Chief Executive is manageable.
Employees, members and stakeholders are welcome to provide feedback on these proposals, with the consultation closing on 30 June.
The changes are in stark contrast to plans across the “ditch” for .au where auDA has announced they will be taking over running the registry, which has been run since 2002 by AusRegistry (now owned by Neustar) with the consultation to take place after the decision has been made.
The consultation paper is available to download here.
Individual registrants who register their .nz domain names for personal use will be able to withhold their phone number and contact address from publicly appearing in domain registrant searches from 28 November.
The change to the public registrant details has come about after the Domain Name Commission completed a review of the Whois domain registrant search. After five rounds of consultation and 133 submissions from individuals and organisations, their input led to the development of this policy to become a major change in the .nz space.
The option to withhold contact information will be available from the 28 November 2017 with all .nz registrars having to offer the service from 28 March 2018. This timeline allows the registry and registrars to make any changes required in their systems.
The Domain Name Commissioner Debbie Monahan is pleased with the robust discussion around this privacy measure and encourages individual registrants to think about using this option if they feel it's best for them.
The .NZ Domain Name Commissioner has issued proposed changes to enable the resolution of “conflicted” domain names following the release of second level domains. The changes aren’t changes to the process, which currently has no time limits, but rather one of engagement and requiring action to resolve the conflict.
The problem has arisen where registrants of domains for the New Zealand country code top level domain (ccTLD) such as anyname.co.nz, anyname.net.nz and anyname.org.nz all have rights to the second level domain, anyname.nz, and they cannot reach agreement about who can register anyname.nz.
At the time of the release of second level registrations on 30 September 2014, it was documented in the policy that the process for considering registrations of conflicted names would be reviewed two years after that date. The DNC have now done that review and identified some proposed changes.
Currently there are 2 ways to resolve conflicts – either an agreement is reached between the parties that have currently registered the conflicted domains or for all but one of the conflicted names to be cancelled and released, leaving only one remaining.
When second level registrations were launched there were 36,771 conflicted domains but only 5,903 have done anything to resolve the problem. The proposed changes gives registrants of conflicted domains 12 months to resolve the problem.
In the case of a conflict set involving 2 domain names, the failure of one registrant to lodge a preference would mean the conflict was resolved in the favour of the registrant who had lodged a preference, assuming the preference they lodged was to try and get the shorter version of their name (currently 91.8% of preferences lodged are for this). Where no preferences are lodged in a conflict set, the conflict would automatically be resolved with the name becoming available for registration on a first come, first served basis.
For more information on the proposed changes, see the .NZ Domain Name Commissioner announcement here.