According to the World Internet Project New Zealand in 2017 93.8% of New Zealanders use the Internet. Domain Name Commissioner Brent Carey says it’s essential that the .nz domain name space is a safe and trustworthy space for all Internet users and .nz domain name holders.

The Domain Name Commission regulates the .nz domain name space – helping people, businesses and communities to have a trusted and distinctly New Zealand online presence.

The Commission’s first digital annual report released today marks its new direction. The refresh has brought a new structure, board, Commissioner and areas of focus. The Commision is building for the future by focusing on three distinctive strategic pillars: trust, privacy and security in the .nz domain name space.

“I’m thrilled to be leading a team that has lofty goals for .nz to be a modern, secure and uniquely New Zealand online space,” says new Commissioner Brent Carey.

“Over the past year we have made inroads into educating consumers about their choices with .nz domain names including their privacy and security options,” says Carey.
In 2018, the Commission has mandated a privacy option for all domain name holders (that are not in trade). This means people can withhold their address and phone number from publicly appearing in the online domain name holder search. More than 15,000 domain names have a privacy option applied.

“We have also refined the way we cancel domains that are causing problems for New Zealand Internet users,” says Carey.

In the past six months, between October last year and March this year, the Commission cancelled 103 domain names from the more than 700,000 domains in the register for incorrect or invalid registration details. The six months before this only two domains were cancelled.

“While this is a start, there are a lot of uncertainties about how we should tackle online criminality in the .nz domain name space to protect the digital economy. Currently we can only cancel domains if the registration information of the domain name holder is fake and after a lengthy validation process or, if a Court orders us to do so.

“Criminal activity that concerns the abuse of domain names is of concern to the Commission and the community. It’s important that people are who they say they are online. We cannot police the whole Internet but we want to play our part in making it more difficult for criminals to operate in the .nz domain name space. We need fresh thinking about how to tackle this,” says Carey.

This year the Commission will be calling on a number of measures to tackle fakeness in the .nz domain name space and not just with registration details.

These include:

  • An InternetNZ group-convened multi-stakeholder domain name abuse forum held at the end of November in Wellington. Across the InternetNZ group, we want to gain efficient cooperation among relevant stakeholders around domain name registration, infrastructure and content abuse. The forum’s discussion should give the basis of a new, New Zealand wide approach to domain name takedowns, in what circumstances and with what protections. InternetNZ as policymaker and the Domain Name Commission as enforcer of policy for the .nz domain name space will be looking for a clear direction as to whether and if so how to tackle this problem.
  • Issuing joint factsheets with other experts to educate consumers about online issues in the .nz domain name space.
  • Monitoring and improving our threat intelligence feeds from trusted notifiers by entering strategic partnerships similar to the one signed with CERT NZ this year.
  • Engaging with the Government’s 2018 review of its Cyber Security strategy.
  • Working with the local Internet community and InternetNZ to modernise the way domain name disputes are dealt with in the .nz domain name space, to ensure effective and efficient access to justice.

“It’s important to me that the Commission does not act unilaterally, but that everything we do is procedurally fair, orderly, discussed and with agreements with others. This is the only way to have a really unified and trusted .nz online space,” says Carey.
For further highlights from the 2017/18 financial year and future directions look at the Commission’s inaugural digital annual report online at 2018annualreport.dnc.org.nz.

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