I blame greed on the part of Internet NZ following its tacit admission of a huge balls-up introducing the 2LD .nz two years ago. They are now backpedaling, (“tweaking things” shall we say) and have admitted they have tens of thousands of conflicted domain names with many thousands of conflicts likely to remain long term due to their foolish approach two years ago. I warned them publicly that how they were proposing to do their changes was going to be a disaster. It was. It is. I give my thoughts here on the whole disgraceful palava and on their attempts to patch it all up, well, because they’ve recently invited me to!
Internet NZ manages the .nz domain space. A couple of years ago it opened up the Second Level Domain space of .nz and introduced a few problems in the process.
The Board Meeting Minutes of October 2016 include:
- Second level registrations policy review
A summary of the process and matters for consideration as part of the two year review of the conflicted names process was presented to the Board for discussion.
It was noted by the Board that there is no set timeframe for resolving conflicted names. It was also noted that to date of the 36,771 conflicted names comprising 15,759 strings only 5,903 have lodged a preference and that our review indicates that around 35% of the conflicted parties are “self conflicted”.
Oh no! That makes 6,406 disadvantaged Registrants! [15,759 – 5,903 x 65% = 6,406] I hope for Internet New Zealand’s sake that none of these get together! They’d have a riot on their hands.
It was agreed that ideally all .nz domain names should either be registered or available for registration, except where specifically prohibited such as government.nz. It is considered preferable to explore ways to amend the policy around the conflicted names process to encourage engagement with a view to resolving as many conflicts as possible in as short a time frame as practicable.
Yup, that’s right – reporting straight from the Internet Boardroom – let’s force people to sit down and resolve their differences as quickly as possible. They haven’t engaged, so we should make them engage.
What stupidity! Fix the actual problem why don’t you?
Following discussion it was agreed that some changes to the process be proposed and subject to a public consultation. The proposed changes are that:
- Registrants involved in a conflict should be required to take action to lodge a preference within 12 months from a policy change, and if they do not they will be removed from the conflict set . . .
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. The only timeframe proposed is on the action of lodging a preference.
They are currently calling on the public and those affected to offer feedback on their plans to force registrants who have names in a ‘conflicted’ status to respond in a predetermined timeline. This, from an unnamed Internet NZ writer:
INZ: … with this consultation, we are interested in exploring ways to amend the policy around CNP to encourage engagement with a view to resolving as many conflicts as possible in as short a time frame as practicable.
Right, so after two years of problems and despite warnings, we are now in a hurry. Get real please, anonymous person from Internet NZ!
I blogged at the time and warned them of their foolishness. They pushed their plans through despite my words and are now attempting to rectify the problem with a patch-up.
To date, of the 36,771 names that had the right to lodge a preference, only 5,903 had done so.
At this rate the majority of conflicts would never be resolved, or even have the chance of being resolved.
So the whole thing is a balls-up and now, two years down the track, we have the evidence that this is the case.
Note that the majority [will] NEVER be resolved!
I’m biased in this matter – very – as I have been a serious player in this space for a long time. I think that that makes my commentary and analysis worthy of respect regardless of whether one agrees with me or not.
qq1. I have been a domain name investor since 1999. Entities that I have owned and/or controlled have registered and onsold over a thousand domain names in the 17 years since. At one time I managed a portfolio of a thousand (primarily NZ) domain names one of which I sold for $35,000.00.
2. I started developing websites in 1997 and was one of New Zealand’s most prolific web developers from 1999 to the late naughties when I established the Web Developers Association of New Zealand (WDANZ) until I immigrated to Samoa. My business Go Kiwi Internet looked after many hundreds of clients’ domain names professionally.
3. I have had deep technical access and understanding of the industry for a long time. In 1999 I personally had full access to the .nz zone files from Waikato which I downloaded regularly and analysed. My company GKI was a Domainz reseller and I established DNMSL* as a registrar when Internet NZ was established.
4. I blogged about the impending screw-up at the time that they intended to release the .nz TLD space and warned of Internet NZ’s monetary motivations and dishonesty in presenting their plans to the public/industry.
5. I have ‘owned’ dennis.co.nz since 1999 and have sought to register dennis.nz only to be blocked by a greedy church from Invercargill** that wants $5,000.00 for dennis.org.nz. Two years later the domain status of my desired name is still “conflicted” and I have no intention of coughing up thousands just so a church can make a bundle! If I knew in 1999 that some Johnny-come-lately organisation would change the rules like they have done, then I would have registered EVERY variant of this string to secure something valuable to me – yes and I mean EVERY variant including .org.nz, .net.nz, .gen.nz! Internet NZ acknowledges the injustice wrought by their own hands:
This [continued delays/unresolved ‘conflicted’ status] is unfair on those who have lodged a preference and are waiting for others in the set to do so in order to go any further.
6. I have established and run the website www.aainz.com dedicated to exposing Internet New Zealand’s foolishness and arrogance on this matter. I do not believe that there should be any such thing as a ‘conflicted’ domain name in the .nz namespace and that Internet NZ needs a right royal kick up the proverbial.
That all said, my bias is out in the open, let’s get started.
Internet NZ brought in the .nz domain space into disrepute, not so much by doing what they did and opening up the TLD space, but HOW they did it.
The key problems as I see it are:
- They affected a serious change with a policy that introduced unfairness retrospectively. Internet NZ’s policy is and always has been that domain are issued on a first-come-first-served basis. Releasing the TLD of .nz is one issue but changing the rules unilaterally at a later date and not recognising that this disadvantaged some people (like me) was an act of utter arrogance. Applying their hands-off policy retrospectively broke their own values because when they changed the rules it was incumbent upon them to replicate the fairness that their policy sought with the new rules change. What they SHOULD have done was to offer the new .nz equivalent to those who registered an alternative FIRST then in a progressive process through the different variants based on their first registered date. This would have replicated historical events with the new .nz TLDs as best as could have been done in the circumstances and kept within the intent of their first-come-first-served values. Their application of a ‘hands off’ policy on a retrospective rule change was totally inappropriate and naive.***
- They didn’t assess the number and type of conflicts correctly. They may have calculated the numbers of conflicts from a technical perspective but they assumed (obviously incorrectly) that most conflicts would be resolved in due course. It’s a board level failure. Chairman of the Board = David Farrar. And David, you were warned.
- They didn’t address potential problems such as human inactivity correctly.
We are therefore proposing an amendment to the policy to require an action on the part of the registrant involved to lodge a preference. If this change goes ahead we would formally notify it and give registrants 12 months to take that action. We would prepare communications material for both registrars and registrants around this requirement.
3. Their current plans to enforce a response is a half-baked effort to fix this issue. This is a lack of understanding human nature – typical of computer-orientated people.
4. New Zealand is now brought into disrepute as a result of Internet NZ’s greed and incompetence. To my way of thinking this failure to deal with the .nz TLD space is not only a blot on their otherwise excellent international reputation, it is one that will remain festering as they STILL haven’t addressed the key problem of injustice. Unless they actually do this in even ten years the .nz space will still be mocked. Don’t think that self-promoting noise from “smiles in suits” is all that it seems. Underneath the veneer of smarm there is ALWAYS a sea of people who think. This Balls-up from Internet NZ is not going to go away in a hurry and is a real problem. The proof? Again, in their own words:
INZ: There is no timeframe for resolving conflicts, and as long as the conflict remains the name at the second level cannot be registered. There is no plan to change this overall tenet.
Let me make this quite clear – Internet NZ introduced a policy two years ago that created a problem that will remain in perpetuity and there is “no plan to change” this situation. That’s VERY serious! This is not somebody made a mistake and fixed it. This is, “We were warned; We knew there would be conflict; We went into it with our eyes open; We acknowledge that things are not ideal; We will not change”. All that is missing from this story is the, “Hey and we’re God in this space so you guys have to suck it up to us whether or not you like it, so there!”
In the US of A, Internet NZ would be facing Class Action within a nanosecond! Actually risk analysis would never have let them do it in the first place the way they did, but hey, this is New Zealand!
Internet NZ has sought public feedback on their current proposal, asking three questions. I focus here on only one – the intent to require registrants with a domain in ‘conflicted’ status to respond to a request, or lose the right to register the .nz domain. Fair enough. They can write the rules as they so wish and can force a response in my book ethically. Go for it. It will assist in some cases I am sure. It will clarify the situation where a Registrant (like Invercargill Christian Centre) fails to act as requested. I’ve tried many times begging and pleading with the name holder of dennis.org.nz to just respond but, “no dice”! Two years and they still won’t click the Internet NZ button! Now they won’t even respond to emails, so forcing them to respond or to suffer will help a little BUT they can still say, “No. Invercargill Christian Church don’t want to let me register dennis.nz [for whatever reason] so Dennis A. Smith can’t have it!”
In summary then, introducing a requirement to respond is likely to be helpful in SOME situations (the easy ones) but it still doesn’t fix the problem Internet NZ has created. There is only one way to remove the problem once and for all, and it is to revisit the original issue – introducing a new rule change after the rules have been written and hundreds of thousands of people and dollars (actually probably millions, more like it) have operated with and within those rules.
The crazy/sad/stupid thing is that it’s simply not necessary to have such a thing as a conflicted name in the first place. People resolve conflicts all over the world every minute of the day. You just gotta structure things right and people will sort it out. Internet NZ simply didn’t structure it right. Instead of biting the bullet they accepted the idea that you have to have a special category called “conflicted”. Nonsense! You just got to have balls! Believe in yourself and do it.
Look, it’s not hard to do Internet NZ. You just have to listen up to a blogger and then revisit the source of the Balls-up – your decision of two years ago to non-prioritise registrations of conflicted names – which resulted in [wait for it] a whole bunch of conflicted names. You can still do this . . . you simply state that all conflicted names MUST be resolved, and that the process of resolution must reflect the longstanding and widely accepted policy of first-come-first-served. Whoever has the first registration of a name has priority. If they don’t want the new .nz option then offer it to the next registrant by date of registration and so forth. Easy. Logical. No-one can complain and the world will be a better place for it.
It will of course necessitate an acknowledgement that Internet NZ made a fundamental error in its application of policy which is highly likely to occur but hey, it can be fixed easily apart from that impossibility. Here’s proof that they have already predetermined to continue with current policy in their own words:
Please note that the process itself is planned to remain as it is currently. The issue is one of engagement and requiring an action rather than changing the process itself.
What a shame! And Internet New Zealand’s grand solution – do nothing and review it over time. OMG!!
Handling those who have engaged in the process without resolution
Though the ideal situation is to resolve all conflicts we are realistic that, in practice, that is unlikely to happen.
That’s right Internet NZ – as predicted, you have introduced the concept of perpetual conflict in the .nz domain space!
For example, the string ‘www’ is conflicted in 8 second levels including .govt.nz, .geek.nz and .parliament.nz.
This is a very bad and [undoubtedly deliberately] deceptive example. Just prevent “www” ever being registered as a 2LD exception for goodness sake. Use a real example we can all relate to, why don’t you? Like say, clear.nz. Doing that shows that even 1/6,406 0f the problem is a HUGE one! Be honest please, Internet NZ. Cut the spin.
One of the biggest reason conflicts are resolved currently is ‘last one standing’ where all registrations but one have been cancelled and released and so the remaining registrant gets notice the conflict has now resolved and they have two months to register the direct .nz name. It is likely this number will continue to increase over time.
Just like the colonialists who said to themselves, “Give ’em all guns and eventually there won’t be anyone to stop us getting the land”? What an incredibly p*ss-poor way to handle a commercial situation in NZ in 2016! Create a conflict situation; turn your head the other way when getting advice contrary to your predetermined plans; then tweak a little two years after the event in a way that still doesn’t affect the core issue; acknowledge in spin-talk that the problem will continue to exist but over time it will dissolve! Who the h*ll is driving this ship and who wrote all of this BS? They need their heads read.
At this time, it is planned that as long as the registrants in the conflict set have engaged in the process then the conflict will remain and the registration of the name direct at .nz can’t go ahead.
That means . . . for ever. As planned. As warned. As predicted.
One of the things that Internet NZ will be keeping under tight wraps will be not so much the quantity of ‘conflicted’ domains but the quality of them. I reckon that it will be the really valuable domain names that will remain in perpetual conflict. Can you see Dylan Clear releasing his rights on clear.org.nz for example to Telstra voluntarily? Not likely!
However, we will continue to review this position regularly.
Oh great! “Trust us!” in other words. Einstein [paraphrased] noted quite wisely that the fools who get us into the mess are never the ones able to get us out of it. Note also that the “we” of this communication has no name on it. Generates a lot of confidence doesn’t it? [sarcasm]
I now issue a warning to Internet NZ. With your acknowledgement of a problem, you are now exposed – not only morally, but also in a PR sense and potentially legally. I’ve shown you the first two exposures here but I now discuss some aspects of the legal exposure. I deal more of this in another post. I’m not a lawyer but the way I see it, there could be validity to any person with an interest (or with a client who has an interest) that has been compromised like I have to take legal action to hold you to account.
There is no doubt that Internet NZ has the legal right to manage the .nz space, and while the process undertaken most likely complied with the appropriate rules, when you changed the rules and broke your own policy of first-come-first-served in intent, to my mind you have introduced ’cause’ in a legal sense for action.
In the situation where a totally NEW environment is created, you can and could quite legally apply this policy – moving forward. A legitimate grievance however has to have been created when the public’s past actions would have been different if the rules were going to be changed. You can’t just ignore the past in a legal sense because the past creates the context; the setting; the environment where your current decisions and actions are viewed.
Introducing the 2LD in .nz may be new in one sense, in that it hasn’t ever been available before but it is not an act independent of the past. THAT’s Internet NZ’s mistake. Many of us acted in a certain way believing something (that we had protected our IP), but Internet NZ altered the rules unilaterally. If this disadvantages someone unreasonably, then potentially that’s actionable, surely?
All lawmakers MUST address the consequences of changing the law. If you invite foreign investors into the country, get their money and then unilaterally ban foreigners, there are legal consequences if losses occur. Likewise Internet NZ.
I’ll be specific in my case as an example as I blogged about this two years ago and it applies at present.
I have always wanted the primary domain(s) of my personal name [both spellings, dennis AND denis] to be associated with me. I have monitored the Internet usage and expectations in New Zealand for almost two decades and paid good money over the years to achieve this. I strongly seek to register the new .nz TLD, dennis.nz. The denis.nz variant is reserved until March 2017, but the Registrant of the dennis.org.nz variant that has been actively attempting to prevent my registration of dennis.nz for two years (in order to gain financially) only registered this in 2005, and even then this was a different individual who assigned it to the cybersquatting church just a couple of years ago!
Now with the introduction of .nz 2LD and me NOT getting access to first rights to dennis.nz I am clearly disadvantaged.
Lawyers would need to prove that the first-come-first-served policy of Internet NZ was public knowledge – it was and is. We all operated in the belief that being first gave us control of our desired IP in the .nz namespace as long as we paid the appropriate fees, of course.
Then lawyers would need to claim that Internet NZ’s application of the new rules was against their own policy – which it was if there is due consideration of past events – not so if the rule change only effected only new registrations. I think that there would be good cause for a legal claim as per the submissions and industry feedback, particularly with the larger IP and PR companies where their clients had invested much over the years in protecting their IP.
What do you thing Clear Communications would have done if clear.nz was available way back when? Let an Aussie register it and then hold them to ransom?
Internet NZ would defend no doubt on the basis that the introduction of the TLD space was a new and an optional extra. This claim though may not stack up in court if it can be shown that there is or was reasonable expectation that we (previous protectors of our IP) would have registered all our TLDs if they were available at the time. I can certainly vouch that to be so in my case. Some of the bigger more risk averse organisations registered more than one variant which indicates a desire to protect their IP.
Proof of this concept; that Registrants assess value and invest to protect can be seen with the domain clear.*.nz. TelstraClear has protected the .co.nz variant some months after investing in the .net.nz variant but didn’t value the .org.nz variant. Nobody has registered the clear.gen.nz variant. Do you think that they would have registered the org.nz variant to stop another entity from holding them to ransom? You betcha they would have!
If an initial court finding saw that such a fundamental shift in the domain space was handled to someone’s disadvantage, Internet NZ could be forced to backpedal fast!
Internet NZ, you have been warned. I suggest that in your deliberations you revisit the entire ‘conflicted’ issue and that whoever wrote the ‘weasel’ words on this document that says you ain’t going to change the colour of your stripes ought to be stood down or told to shut-up until the matter is resolved.
There is no need for ANY conflict – period! Internet New Zealand simply has to honour its principles making conflicts resolve by formula based on the principle of first-come-first-served. Simple, easy and 6,406 previously unhappy Registrants now happy.
Take notice please Internet NZ that this matter is not going to go away, especially now that you have given me the evidence of a huge injustice.
* Later deregistered following a dispute with the DNC.
** Invercargill Christian Centre if you really want to know. Here’s their ‘delighful’ offer from the church [Note from their “Business Manager”]. Linda wouldn’t ever let me speak to the Pastor(s) Ian and Dayle Wright and she ignores emails now:
Good morning. Thank you for making contact. I have discussed this issue with our leadership team and we are happy to approve the purchase of the domain name dennis.org.nz for the amount of $5000. This money would be used for charitable purposes, particularly to make dreams come true to sick children.
If you wish to proceed further, the best contact would be via email.
Business Manager and PA to Ps Ian and Dayle Wright
Invercargill Christian Centre
PO Box 713 Invercargill
Phone 03 2144562
When you see what they hoped to get for their domain, you can see why they kept registering it month after month for two years and failed to give me permission to register dennis.nz for two years now can’t you!
*** Natural Justice 101. In my case for example, I registered dennis.co.nz in 1999. I actually registered other variants at different times as well but that’s beside the point. As I have previously explained, if I knew that the .nz would be released and that some greedy church in Invercargill could prevent me registering the .nz variant, I would have spent the money and got the lot as internationally dennis.nz makes a lot more sense than dennis.co.nz. I’m not a company!