Domain Name Commission clamps down on dodgy .nz domain names

The Domain Name Commission has released the first annual report since its restructuring earlier this year, saying it has cancelled 103 .nz domain names with insufficient details and will be putting in place a number of initiatives designed to tackle the problem of fake .nz domain names.

Commissioner Brent Carey said that, in the six months to March 2018 the commission had cancelled 103 domain names from the more than 700,000 domains in the register for incorrect or invalid registration details, up from only two in the preceding six months.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

The commission is calling for a number of initiatives to reduce the incidence of fake domain registrations:

An InternetNZ group-convened multi-stakeholder domain name abuse forum will be held at the end of November in Wellington. “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,” the commission said.

“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.”

The commission also plans to issue factsheets to educate consumers about online issues in the .nz domain name space, and to monitor threat intelligence feeds from trusted notifiers by entering strategic partnerships similar to the one signed with CERT NZ this year.

It plans to work with the local Internet community and InternetNZ to “modernise the way domain name disputes are dealt with in the .nz domain name space [so as] to ensure effective and efficient access to justice.”

Carey said: "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.”

Under changes announced last year the entities comprising the InternetNZ Group: InternetNZ, NZRS mdash; the registry for .nz domain names and the operator of the .nz domain space mdash; and the Domain Name Commission were restructured. NZRS was scrapped and its functions, people and assets transferred into InternetNZ. The role of the Domain Name Commission was reduced to a focus on the regulatory and enforcement aspects of .nz policy and contracts. The new structure was formalised in April.

One of the first initiatives of the new body was to put in place a privacy option for all domain name holders that are not in trade enabling domain owners to withhold their address and phone number from online domain name holder searches. The commission says more than 15,000 domain owners have taken up this option.

The commission’s digital annual report is online at2018annualreport.dnc.org.nz. Other than the financial statements and the auditor’s report, which can be downloaded as PDFs, it is accessible only by reading multiple web pages. Internet NZ has also released its annual report in an identical format.

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Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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