Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

InternetNZ says sorry for “institutional racism”

Kevin Murphy, December 2, 2022, Domain Registries

New Zealand ccTLD registry InternetNZ has apologized for its “institutional racism” following a probe instigated by its reaction to a YouTube video last year that incited violence against Māori citizens.

“We acknowledge that InternetNZ has institutional racism built into our culture and structures. These systems, and the way people have acted within them, have caused harm to Te Ao Māori,” the company said in a statement last week.

“We unreservedly apologise for the harm to Te Ao Māori [the Māori world],” it added. “We know that from here, it is our actions that will right these wrongs.”

The apology follows the publication of a report into current and historical structural racism at the company by Māori language advocate Hana O’Regan, commissioned by the InternetNZ Council last year.

The review was ordered after two council members, both Māori women, resigned in protest at InternetNZ’s inaction when a masked individual reportedly uploaded a video to YouTube encouraging the massacre of Māori people.

It seems many believed InternetNZ should have publicly condemned the video, which stayed online for more than a day, as well as used its political clout to encourage YouTube to delete it.

The company apologized a few days later, saying it had not wanted to inadvertently draw attention to the video, perhaps inflaming matters, but said that was with hindsight the wrong call.

O’Regan’s report is more wide-ranging than the 2021 incident, however, delving back into InternetNZ’s roots in the mid-1990s and finding long-term resistance to the asks of the Māori people.

Māori had to struggle to get the second-level domain created, while sailed through approval, the report says. There was also resistance to enabling internationalized domain names, which would allow the macro diacritic used in the Māori language, it says.

The report also criticized InternetNZ’s decision-making structure as failing to embrace Māori cultural practices, and its membership for failing to be sufficiently diverse.

The company says it has in the last year or so appointed a C-level Māori cultural advisor and created a committee to advise on Māori matters. It is also working on a “comprehensive action plan” it intends to publish early next year.

The 35-page report can be found here (pdf). It’s written for a domestic audience, so if you’re not Kiwi, you’ll probably need Google Translate to follow it. And if you’re an American conservative, it’ll probably pop all your aneurysms at once.

InternetNZ appoints new CEO

Kevin Murphy, August 2, 2022, Domain Registries

Vivien Maidaborn has been selected as the new CEO of InternetNZ, New Zealand’s ccTLD registry.

She’s replacing Jordan Carter, who quit earlier this year for a top policy job at Australian registry auDA, and interim chief Andrew Cushen, who reportedly had put himself forward for the role on a permanent basis.

Maidaborn was most recently in a leadership role for Unicef in Vietnam. She’s expected to take over from Cushen in October.

InternetNZ is not only in the middle of a back-end transition to an EPP-based back-end based on technology from its Canadian counterpart CIRA, but also in a process of “becoming a Te Tiriti o Waitangi centric organisation”, a reference to the country’s foundational Treaty of Waitangi.

The press release announcing the appointment has a sprinkling of Māori terms that will most likely baffle foreigners, but the gist seems to be that the organization is trying to make itself more responsive to input from Māori citizens, whose ancestors landed on the islands hundreds of years before European settlers and got rather badly treated under British rule.

Form an orderly queue: New Zealand wants a new back-end

Kevin Murphy, October 23, 2019, Domain Registries

New Zealand is looking to possibly outsource its .nz ccTLD registry back-end for the first time, and has invited interested parties to get in touch.
Registry manager InternetNZ today published a request for expressions of interest in what it’s calling its “registry replacement project”.
It won’t be as straightforward as most registry migrations, as .nz is currently running essentially two different back-ends.
Today, about 65% of its registrations are based on an outdated custom Shared Registration System protocol, with the remainder on the industry standard Extensible Provisioning Protocol.
The proportion of registrars running SRS versus EPP is roughly the same, with about 65% on SRS, according to the REOI.
But the registry wants to get rid of SRS altogether, forcing all SRS-only registrars to adopt the EPP, and the new back-end provider will have to support this transition.
While registrars always have a bit of implementation work to do when a TLD changes back-ends, it’s not usually as complicated as adopting a completely different protocol with which they may not be unfamiliar.
So the risk of issues arising during the eventual handover — which will probably take a bit longer than usual — is probably a bit higher than usual.
But .nz is an attractive TLD. At the start of the month, it had 711,945 domains under management, a pretty good penetration on a per-capita basis when compared to the biggest ccTLDs.
It’s in the top 50 of the 1,338 TLDs for which I have data.
The deadline for responses to the REOI is November 29, a little over a month from now, InternetNZ said.
The registry is taking briefings at ICANN 66 in Montreal from November 2, and the following week in New Zealand.
UPDATE: This article originally stated that InternetNZ has decided to outsource its back end. In fact, outsourcing is just one of a number of options.

Beginning of the end for DomainTools? Court orders it to scrub Whois records

Kevin Murphy, September 13, 2018, Domain Registries

DomainTools has been temporarily banned from collecting and publishing the Whois records of all .nz domains.
A Washington court yesterday handed down a preliminary injunction against the company, after New Zealand’s Domain Name Commission sued it in July for scraping and republishing its Whois in violation of its terms of service.
Notably — especially if you’re involved in the ongoing Whois reform debate — Judge Robert Lasnik’s scathing order (pdf) rubbished DomainTools’ claims that its historical Whois service provides a public interest benefit that outweighs the privacy interests of .nz registrants.
The ruling by its own admission also potentially opens the floodgates for other registries and registrars to obtain injunctions against DomainTools for the own customers.
DomainTools has been “enjoined from accessing the .nz register while DomainTools’ limited license remains revoked and/or publishing any .nz register data DomainTools had stored or compiled in its own databases”.
DNC, the policy body that oversees .nz registry InternetNZ, had alleged that DomainTools had created a “secondary or shadow register” by bulk-downloading Whois records.
Since mid-2016, each .nz Whois record has contained a notice that such behavior is prohibited, and Lasnik agreed that DomainTools must surely have been aware of this.
Lasnik further agreed with DNC that DomainTools’ service is “sabotaging” its efforts to bring more privacy protection to .nz customers; since November last year it has offered individuals the ability to opt out of having their private data published, an offer 23,000 people have taken up.
That was enough for the judge to conclude that DNC’s case had met the “irreparable harm” test required for an injunction.
He was less impressed with DomainTools’ argument that implementing the injunction would take many months and cost it up to $3.5 million.
“Defendant can presumably filter the .nz data using relatively simple database tools,” he wrote, ordering DNC to post a “nominal” $1,000 bond to cover DT’s potential losses.
Lasnik also said the public interest would be better served by permitting registrant privacy than by serving the interests of DomainTools’ cybsecurity and law enforcement customers:

defendant argues that the products it creates from its meticulously collected register data are critical cybersecurity resources and that the public interest would be harmed if the reports provided to government, financial, and law enforcement entities were incomplete because the .nz data were excised. The .nz register is comparatively small, however (approximately 710,000 domains compared with over 135,000,000 .com domains), and the defendant and its customers can access the registration information directly through plaintiff’s website if it appears that a bad actor is using an .nz domain. On the other hand, the .nz registrants’ privacy and security interests are compromised as long as defendant is publishing non-current or historical .nz information out of its database. The Court finds that the public has an interest in the issuance of an injunction.

While arguably limited to historical Whois records, it’s a rare example of judicial commentary on the privacy rights of registrants and may well play into the ongoing debate about Whois in the post-GDPR world.
Even if it turns out not to have wider policy implications, the legal implications for DomainTools are potentially devastating.
While .nz has only about 710,000 domains under management, and is but one of over 1,500 TLDs, DomainTools, DNC and Judge Lasnik all seem to agree that the floodgates for further litigation may have now opened. Lasnik wrote:

defendant argues that a preliminary injunction in this case could start an avalanche of litigation as other registers attempt to protect the privacy of their registrants. If defendant built a business by downloading, storing, and using data from other registers in violation of the terms that governed its access to that data, defendant may be correct — other registers may be encouraged to pursue a breach of contract claim if plaintiff is successful here. It would be ironic, however, if a plaintiff who has shown a likelihood of success and irreparable injury were deprived of preliminary relief simply because defendant may have acted wrongfully toward others as well

DNC said in a statement: “Managers of other countries domain name systems across the world will want to pay attention to the judgment. This may raise confidence to fight their own cases should DomainTools be breaching their terms of use.”
The case has yet to go to court, but the fact that DNC won the injunction indicates that the judge believes it has a likelihood of winning.

InternetNZ loses two of its three CEOs as it simplifies

Kevin Murphy, December 5, 2017, Domain Registries

InternetNZ has announced the results of a consultation into a restructuring of the organization.
The .nz ccTLD manager is to cut one of its three operating companies and reduce the number of CEOs from three to one.
NZRS, which actually runs the registry, will be folded into InternetNZ, while policy-setting body Domain Name Commission Ltd will remain a separate company in the same group.
Jordan Carter, CEO of the company since 2013, has been picked to carry on leading InternetNZ and to chair the board of DNCL, which is losing three of its 12 seats.
The company threw open the idea of a restructuring back in June, noting that it had 20 governors, three CEOs and 10 senior executives for the 35 full time employees across the three organisations
InternetNZ leadership said in a statement that they hope the changes will help the registry become more effective as it simplifies.

InternetNZ wants to fire two of its three (!) CEOs

InternetNZ, the .nz ccTLD operator, is proposing a radical simplification of the organization in order to stay relevant in the age of new gTLDs.
A proposal put forward late last week would see the non-profit organization fold its two subsidiaries back into the parent and consolidate management under a single CEO.
Currently, InternetNZ owns Domain Name Commission Limited (DNCL), the .nz policy oversight body, and NZRS Limited, which actually runs the registry. Each of the three entities has its own CEO.
The new proposal describes the situation like this:

Our governance and management structures are cumbersome and a lack of single point of accountability makes it difficult to progress work across the group. The size of governance groups and management resource is out of proportion to the size of the organisation and the size of the issues it is dealing with. There are 20 governors, three chief executives and around 10 senior executives for the 35 FTE [Full Time Employees] across the three organisations.

The New Zealand organization needs to streamline, according to the working group that came up with the paper, in order to more effectively compete with the influx of new TLDs, which has seen ccTLDs see slowing growth.
.nz is one of the few ccTLDs that has a direct new gTLD competitor — .kiwi.
It also wants to diversify its revenue streams outside of domain registration fees, according to the paper, with a target of NZD 1 million ($720,000) from alternate sources by 2020.
As a member-based organization, InternetNZ has put the proposal out for public comment until June 30. It will make a decision in August.

Fight breaks out over .kiwi

Kevin Murphy, August 24, 2012, Domain Registries

New Zealand country-code manager InternetNZ has approved the creation of, setting the stage for a battle over the proposed new gTLD .kiwi.
InternetNZ announced the new second-level domain today. It’s designed to “increase choice” for New Zealanders who want to register their personal names as domain names.
But it stands to clash with .kiwi, a new gTLD applied for by Dot Kiwi Ltd, a New Zealand subsidiary of a Canadian company, which has partnered with Minds + Machines on the bid.
Dot Kiwi, which had objected to the domain, has branded InternetNZ’s move “dissappointing and lacking in common sense”, and suggested it is an attempt to capitalize on .kiwi’s advertising.
The applicant said in a statement:

Our opposition to InternetNZ’s confusing introduction of .kiwi.nzis well documented in repeated submissions we have made to them. Those submissions have been ignored. There will now be widespread confusion with the domain and the well-advertised forthcoming launch of the .kiwi domain.

But InternetNZ president Frank March said in a press release that the policy used to approve does not consider the possibility of confusion with proposed new gTLDs:

The policy for evaluating a new second-level domain takes into account existing second-level domains in .nz but not possible future changes, such as direct registration under .nz (which is currently being consulted on) or new generic Top Level Domains that may or may not be introduced at some point in the future.

The creation of the new second-level domain does not appear to give InternetNZ leverage to object to .kiwi, under a strict reading of the ICANN Applicant Guidebook.
For ccTLDs to file a String Confusion Objection against a new gTLD application, they must assert confusion with the TLD; the objection does not appear to cover 2LDs.
To date, there has been only one public comment filed with ICANN about .kiwi on confusion grounds.
Kiwis will get an opportunity to vote with their wallets, it seems.
Registrations under are expected to open September 11, but under InternetNZ policy will not actually go live until a minimum threshold of 500 domains has been passed, the company said.