Internet NZ has unleashed a huge backlash from disgruntled domain name owners with their requests for feedback following the Board’s two year-review of the 2LD introduction and recommendations to force conflicted status domain name Registrants to respond. I analyse here the various strands of thought, give feedback and advice. All this validates my blogging going back to 2012 and reinforces the necessity of the matters being sorted in a neutral venue such the courts of New Zealand. Internet NZ is now tainted and the Chairman of the Board has a huge conflict of interest.
Today is the cutoff for responses to Internet New Zealand’s formal request for feedback relating to what they call the CNP, their Conflicted Name Policy. Their invitation to comment was sent to Registrants of a newly created ‘conflicted’ status and many have taken the opportunity to vent their anger, frustration and shared their opinions. All feedback has been posted online. I include mine here as well.
I have previously blogged about this subject in essence explaining that the very existence of a ‘conflicted’ status was totally unnecessary IF Internet NZ had honoured their longstanding policy of “first-come-first-served” correctly and logically. Under David Farrar’s leadership however the Board of Internet NZ rammed through the proposal into implementation applying the ‘first-come-first-served’ policy to the new 2LD considering it an optional extra, rather than, as I believe, a critical structural change of the rules. Their actions I believe have resulted in legal exposure.
Their recent request for feedback attempted to focus on their proposed patch-up solution of forcing thousands of people who had not responded to their solution to the problem that they actually created and clearly informed the Registrants of 6,406 affected unique strings of domains that they were NOT INTERESTED in fixing the actual problem. This however didn’t stop people from having their say about how they thought the problem should be fixed, and boy, they said it!
The vast bulk of the feedback sought resolution to the problem of ‘conflicted’ domains. Many supported the proposal to force Registrants to act, use it or lose it sort of thing.
There were NO submissions from key players in the industry – no lawyers; no marketing people; no comments from the intellectual property industry; no comments from larger companies or organisations. This is perfectly understandable for only the smaller, generally less well-informed players would have bothered to respond thinking I imagine that there was hope of their problems being resolved with this proposal. No doubt some of them will be, too.
But Internet NZ made it clear that the core issue (the problem) would be unchanged. There were a couple of responses from the industry but again nothing of note, probably because in the big picture the problem of ‘only’ 6,406 potential registrations held up in the ‘conflicted’ status is a minor factor compared to the huge windfall of 112k new registrations that DID occur. The Registrars, as well as Internet NZ will have done VERY well out of the 2LD implementation, thank you very much!
Responses can be broadly categorised as follows:
- Keep the status quo – do not change anything and the proposal to force a response is not required – a rare opinion but one held by a few, particularly in regards to self-conflicted domains;
- Bring in the requirement to respond (use it or lose it) as proposed – a widespread belief
- Reduce the timeframe for enforced response – down from a possible 12 months to six months, or three months or less – common;
- Allocate conflicted names to the first registrant of a contested string (a retrospective application of the first-come-first-served policy) – this is my preference and recommendation; and
- Allocate conflicted names to a priority of some sort, either via Trademarking or some ranking of extension (e.g .co.nz has a greater priority than .org.nz)
The last two categories of responses were off-topic but they were discussed in the responses nonetheless.
The Can of Worms is Opened
I believe that Internet NZ has now, on top of quantifying the extent of the problem that they introduced, revealed the depth of frustration that exists in the community of .nz users. This feedback is a HUGE slap in the face for the so-called ‘experts’ that introduced the 2LD implementation – first they have had to admit that there are tens of thousands of names still with a problem; that there are 6,406 unique strings conflicted, representing probably more than 5,000 different entities that are in various states of being p*ssed off that they, “Can’t get their name!”
Now, even though they tried to limit the feedback to their pre-determined subject, the people have spoken, regardless. Screw-up. PR failure. Internet NZ can defend their historical actions as much as they like and I can pontificate along the lines that, “I told you so!” as much as I like, but the FACTS are that there IS a problem; it is SERIOUS; people ARE hugely frustrated.
Internet NZ – you’re in deep doo-doo, especially if legal action is commenced.
One of the amazing things for me when analysing all these responses is a clear sense that natural justice has been denied by the way that Internet NZ introduced the 2LD. You can see people really struggle with this whole thing. They are simply trying to get sorted a problem that they instinctively know should not be there. They are right. The problem should not be there. It need not have been created in the first place.
People can easily fit into any legislative environment that their leaders create for them, even if it is against their best interests, but only if they understand why the rules are what they are. None of us want to travel at ‘only’ 100kmh on the open motorway but we understand the reasons for the rules. Not so with this 2LD implementation. People simply don’t understand why there is such a thing as a ‘conflicted’ status. Internet NZ can try telling them or try to explain it to them or justify it until the cows come home but the feedback shows quite remarkably that they know instinctively that something is wrong – it’s not fair!
The reason of course is that it IS not fair. It DOES not make any sense. It was a political decision foist upon the public by an authority with an ego and an agenda. Hopefully a court will one day address the issue constructively, or miracle upon miracle they will reconsider the actual issue and deal with it constructively before they face the music under duress.
For the record, those who suggested that domains should be offered to the first-registered ‘conflicted’ status domains are on my page. It’s a simple application of Internet’s long-standing policy retrospectively and 99.9% of people will consider it simple and fair. It can also be done at any time, even right now, if the Board of Internet NZ has the integrity and balls to eat humble pie and do the right thing.
Here is my submission. The original PDF can be viewed here: http://www.dennis.co.nz/images/Dennis-A.-Smith-DNC-2LD-Submission.pdf.
20 December 2016
I respond to your invitation for feedback on the CNP changes herewith.
Internet NZ’s proposed solution to force Registrants who have failed to respond to the CNP in the first two years since introduction indicates failure of the original policy at multiple levels and is a cynical, partial solution at best.
As I have recently blogged about in damning detail, (http://www.dennis.co.nz/2016/12/internet-nz-admits-nz-balls-up/) according to the Minutes of the Board meeting more than six thousand names, representing probably over 5,000 entities (15,759 – 5,903 x 65% = 6,406 – in the absence of any meaningful information, assuming one person per unique string) have ended up in a totally unnecessary conflict situation as a result of the way the 2LD introduction was affected. This, aside even from the way that the proposal was rammed through by those with an agenda!
At the time I blogged my belief (http://www.dennis.co.nz/2014/03/nz-second-level-final-submission/) that this substantial change was essentially a money-grab led by a small vocal and influential group. That Internet NZ has NOT reduced the wholesale price since is a strong validator of this claim. Nor have they [disgracefully] even indicated how additional benefit has or will be achieved for the public with their/your considerable windfall. Ongoing income from an additional 112,674 2LD .nz domains (as at November 2016) is not insignificant.
While in my blogging I have identified four problems that Internet NZ has created with the way it introduced the 2LD .nz space, the core issue is that the “conflicted” status is a clear, tacit acknowledgement that they have created a huge and I believe totally unnecessary problem. In my recent blog I detail the simple solution which will address the core issue, then actually SOLVE the problem, rather than as this proposal does, simply REDUCE the number of problems they have created, and even then only the relatively easy problems to sort.
If the Board of Internet NZ truly had the courage of their convictions and actually honoured their longstanding policy of first-come-first-served they would apply this TODAY retrospectively to all conflicted names and the problem would entirely disappear, simply and ethically. Unhappy customers of more than six thousand ‘conflicted’ names, all created knowingly by and now acknowledged by Internet NZ would be appreciative. This patch-up proposal would also no longer be necessary.
In the interests of clarity and for those who have not read my earlier blogs and submission, all Internet NZ need to is offer the .nz domain to the FIRST Registrant of a particular domain string; then to the next Registrant by date and so on. Simple. Ethical. Honours the principle of first-come-first-served. This can even be done today and within a very short period there will be NO conflicted names. NO court cases. NO conflicts. NO injustice. The Board would need to eat humble pie of course but that aside, it could be done.
The original problem stems from the proponents’ erroneous presentation that the .nz space simply has the same status as a new additional option like for example .com.nz. It’s not and never has been. It is and always was going to be a fundamental change to the .nz usage, and perceptions. This is why the serious players in the industry sought recognition of their (and their client’s) investment into digital IP during the initial consultation. Internet NZ though had a clear agenda and simply failed to address this issue constructively. This failure to grapple with serious concerns constructively is also why the current proposal is required. It’s also why I call it a patch-up rather than a solution.
As a true solution would require an acknowledgement from the current Board of an error two years ago under the same Chairman David Farrar, sadly, it will I am sure, never happen. Instead the problem will likely remain and be presented as “just inevitable/ necessary”, of which it is neither.
Note the words of ‘defence against logic’ noted by the Board in their Minutes “There is no plan to change the overall tenet of agreement being required to allow the name at the second level to be registered and also no plan to introduce any timeframe on the conflicts being resolved.“
Ostrich-behaviour to a tee. A problem exists. We may have created it but it will remain. No plan. No plan. Total arrogance and utter foolishness!
My feedback in response to this request for comment is that the Board of Internet NZ should NOT proceed with this proposal which will of course very likely reduce the number of supposedly conflicted names within whatever period is chosen. This would be little more than a PR stunt and possibly have a feel-good moment for the ones who introduced the problem when the numbers in the conflicted category drop. Other than Internet NZ (who created the problem and will have an interest in presenting good news to the world when the numbers drop), who really cares whether there are 6,406 or 5,406 or 4,046, or even just 46 conflicts when you are one of them . . . especially crazy when there can easily be ZERO conflicts?
The REAL problems (like as I explained in my recent blog post with the example of the conflicted domain clear.org.nz) will of course remain after this proposal is enacted with the BIG and serious conflicts totally untouched. To my mind this should be seen as a disgrace to any right-thinking citizen, within New Zealand or globally. I don’t care how popular or powerful the individuals are who have introduced this problem are, if they wanted a change that lined their coffers substantially; then forced their plans through at the cost of bringing shame upon the previously well-recognised good management of the .nz space; and introduced a problem for thousands of people in the business and Internet community then they should be held to account. I attempt to do that here and have done so in more detail on my blog.
Indeed, serious players in this space, who have given Internet NZ the chance for the last two years to deal with fallout now have the proof that Internet NZ has deliberately, knowingly introduced a problem; that the problem has now been quantified and that [sadly] the people entrusted to run the system for the benefit of the users of the Internet clearly have their own interests first:
a) increased income;
b) protecting their personal butts having made a total b*lls-up in the first instance; and
c) [incredibly] accept that the problem will remain ad infinitum.
As I explain in my recent post, knowingly introducing a problem into a commercial environment; consciously opting to cause a conflict situation and effectively telling those adversely affected to “stick it – because . . . ” would be an actionable cause for court action in many jurisdictions.
I believe that Internet NZ could now be highly exposed legally should any entity realise that their original decision that created a totally unnecessary “conflicted” status, and now the proposed resolution (on review) actually runs totally contrary to the entire tenet of Internet NZ’s longstanding policy that first-in should be first-served. I would be delighted to see the legal eagles bring this matter into the court arena and have it thrashed out with greater minds than mine and would be happy to help anyone who wanted to fix the problem, that some 6,406 people currently have, in this way.
Internet NZ, you have been warned, again.
Thank you for asking for my opinion. I have no wish to comment on the secondary subjects for which feedback is invited.
Dennis A. Smith
Personal Disclosure: I detail my past interests in the domain industry in my recent blog post. They extend back some twenty years and are extensive.