Telling it how it is. Up front and transparently

Brent Carey16 May 2019

A blog post by Brent Carey, Domain Name Commissioner

Happy Privacy Awareness Week for 2019. This year’s theme is Protecting privacy is everyone's responsibility. I can’t think of a better time to release the Commission’s first transparency report than during New Zealand’s annual week devoted to privacy matters.  

Our inaugural 2018/19 Transparency Report is available for you to read here:

Domain Name Commission Transparency Report 2018/19

We’d welcome your feedback on its content and ideas for future editions in the coming years.

Thanks to TradeMe who has been somewhat of a trailblazer in this area and for their layout inspiration.

Transparency statistics 

Our first transparency report reveals a low number of requests for access to domain name registration records. Between March 2018 and May 2019 the Commission received just three requests.

This is to be expected given any domain names flagged with privacy are also required to have their email addresses publicly available through a .nz query search. This means people can get in touch with one another without raising additional personal safety concerns.

Our work with trusted notifier CERTNZ and with the Hi Tech Crime division of New Zealand Police, has also enabled us to assist to prevent domain name abuse issues without the need for disclosures of personal information.

Notable privacy activities

The 2018/19 financial year was a year of privacy firsts for the Domain Name Commission.

It will go down as a year of unique firsts that will have lasting effects on the .nz and international  domain name spaces. Here are some of the privacy highlights from the transparency report.

.nz Registrants get a privacy option

There are approximately 712,000 active .nz domain name registrations. Of these, approximately 257,000 became eligible for privacy on 28 March 2018.

Of the 275,000 eligible almost 36,000 have now been enrolled in the privacy option.

As at June 2018, there were approximately 11,000 enrolments. Since the introduction of the privacy option, the uptake has increased by over 300% establishing the importance of privacy to .nz domain registrants.

Domain Name Commission wins preliminary injunction in US Courts against DomainTools

The Commission is investing a significant amount of time and resources pursuing US Company DomainTools for breach of contract for creating a secondary database of .nz registration information.

In September 2018, the Commission was granted a preliminary injunction by Judge Lasnik of  the Washington District Court preventing DomainTools from accessing .nz data. The Commission is now defending this decision on appeal to the Ninth Circuit which will be heard on 7 June 2019 in Seattle.

Data quality and validation processes lead to 5,576 domain name suspensions and cancellations 

The Commission and .nz authorised Registrars have suspended or cancelled 5,576 domain names for data quality and data security reasons from a total of 712,359 domain names under management. This is up from the 103 domain name cancellations in the 2017/18 financial year.

Christchurch event leads to first domain name suspension for terrorism related objectional material

Following the exceptional and emergency circumstances involving Christchurch, the Commission increased its coordination and co-operation with trusted MoU partners CERTNZ and the Digital Safety division of the Department of Internal Affairs to keep .nz safe, trusted and secure.

We took steps to sweep the .nz domain name space for any objectionable, terrorism related material associated with the Christchurch events. During the period where the national security threat level was at high, we suspended a single domain name in consultation with DIA, the registrant of that domain name, New Zealand Police and the hosting company. That period of suspension lasted only 24 hours while the objectionable material was removed. The domain name was then active again.

We think the tide of public expectation around objectionable terrorism related material being available online is turning and are looking forward to participating in the local policy debate about what technical and prevention and awareness measures can be put in place to disrupt its reach.