A safer .nz – finding solutions to abuse handling, illegal activity and free-flowing information

A blog from InternetNZ and the Domain Name Commission
10 December 2018

Jordan Carter Brent Carey

Jordan Carter, Group CEO of InternetNZ and Brent Carey, Domain Name Commissioner

Both Jordan Carter and Brent Carey are new to their roles as Group CEO of InternetNZ and Domain Name Commissioner. They have a shared determination to take a fresh look at how .nz operates and to help make sure it’s serving New Zealand as best it can. Opening the conversation about domain name abuse is a key part of that.

Over many years there has been a lot of discussion about how to strike the right balance with .nz public policy. For example, the balance to protect the general public, particularly children, from objectionable material against the free flow of information and the benefits to be derived from e-commerce. You can read more about the takedown of domain names here.  

In late November both InternetNZ, who is responsible for .nz policy creation, and the Domain Name Commission, who is accountable for policy enforcement, started that examination process by doing something new and different. Together, we convened New Zealand’s first one-day forum devoted to the topic of domain name abuse.

The Domain Name Abuse Forum was a community event aimed to start conversations with stakeholders. Its purpose was to facilitate some common understanding regarding issues surrounding the identification, capture, action and reporting of abuse and illegal activity in the .nz space.

It was one giant brainstorm captured in a visual representation by the League of Live Illustrators who created amazing artwork that we will be turning into a digital story book. Take a look at some of what they were able to capture.

Content abuse infographic

Content abuse infographic 

Domain name forum infographic

Domain Name Abuse infographic 

Infrastructure abuse infographic

Infrastructure abuse infographic

Infrastructure abuse infographic

Infrastructure abuse infographic

Registration abuse infographic

Registration absue infographic 



A high level summary of the event has also been captured in this 60 second video from the day.

The event

On the day, there was a Ministerial opening speech, panel discussions and most importantly multiple workshops to consider the abuse issues facing the .nz domain name space.

Ahead of the event, we produced some guidelines on registration abuse, content abuse, infrastructure abuse and our current approach to tackling issues of abuse in the .nz domain name space – you can read them here.

What were some of the ideas for making .nz a safer space?

Brent says work is being done in the office to flesh out some of these ideas from the forum.

“We are categorising all the ideas from attendees and working out some of the principles that might follow. These will be fed in to the wider .nz policy review, which will kick off in the New Year and will help inform changes to our operations.

“There were four high level observations and key takeaways from the day that we are focussing on,” says Brent.

Cut to the chase.

No matter the abuse – content, infrastructure or registration – there was a level of desire expressed by attendees for the existing contractual terms, terms of service and compliance obligations to be enforced. In summary, make the current system work, measure what is going on and design solutions to fit the context.  These are things we can start doing now.

Be the ambulance at the top of the cliff, not the paramedic at the bottom.

Attendees voiced a desire to see more verification or validation happening at the .nz authorised registrar or registry level.

Give consumers information to help with education and awareness.

Education and training can break down barriers to providing a safer .nz. Across all of the workshops, participants felt there was a need for a greater level of understanding of the issues and for there to be a common language to describe the elements of quality of improvements.

Be proactive, open and transparent.

There was recognition at the event about recent moves by the Domain Name Commission to develop a trusted notifier network. For example, the signed MOUs this year with CERTNZ and the Department of Internal Affairs.  

With a more collaborative and co-operative approach to domain name abuse issues, attendees also felt that some form of transparency reporting would ultimately help whatever system was designed to tackle domain name abuse.

Jordan says the forum was a great sharing of perspectives and part of InternetNZ’s follow up work with the DNC is to look at the evidence around the scale of the problem. We can take a broader look at how other ccTLDs are dealing with the issue and take a deeper look into the data we and others have about the various forms of abuse and how prevalent they are here.

“Changing how we enforce or make use of the various components of the existing policy and contractual framework, as Brent has talked about, is another area we can progress. We’ll do that in a measured way - I’m conscious that changing how we enforce existing policies can make as big a difference as changing policies themselves, and so we’ll tread carefully,” says Jordan.

Final say

We look forward to continuing the conversation with the community regarding ways to address illegal activity and abuse as part of a wider conversation regarding ways to address abuse in the .nz domain name space.

InternetNZ has a full review of the .nz policy framework coming up next year to work out the issues people are having with today’s policy. Policy related aspects of domain name abuse in all its forms will be on the agenda and the Forum was a great start to that.

You can reach both Jordan or Brent at the emails below. You can also find both InternetNZ and the Domain Name Commission on Twitter and Facebook.