InternetNZ annual report 2020-2021
Who we are
InternetNZ is a non-profit organisation, and the home and guardian of .nz—providing the infrastructure, security, and support to keep it humming. We use the funding from the sale of .nz domain names to support the development of New Zealand's Internet through policy, community grants, research, and events. Our mission is an Internet that is open, secure, and for all New Zealanders.
members (as at 31 March 2021)
permanent staff (as at 31 March 2021)
member events in 2020/2021
2020-21 has been a challenging year for all of us in Aotearoa, but one that has highlighted just how important our Internet infrastructure is to New Zealand. Who would have guessed that we would spend so much of our time indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the unprecedented disruption it caused.
The Internet was a vital part of how we all stayed connected, of how we communicated and worked during the last year. I’m proud of how our organisation did its part to keep .nz humming. As well as being an essential service provider, we had to ensure that the DNS and the .nz domain name system kept operating. The .nz register reached an all-time high of over 725,000 names in the last year, which underlines how important the Internet and .nz has been as part of the nationwide economic response.
COVID-19 had impacts on our organisation too. We continue to be lucky to have the operating team led by an experienced and capable Chief Executive in Jordan. Council supported the direction that Jordan and the team took — keeping the care and focus on our essential infrastructure while also recognising we had stressed staff that needed our support during an unprecedented global pandemic. In this context, I’m even prouder than normal to call out and celebrate some of the other contributions of our team.
The InternetNZ Research team discovered, identified and reported on a significant technical vulnerability in TsuName — a problem that could have otherwise wreaked havoc on registries like ours, and that was instead resolved. Very few ccTLDs have this sort of capability, and to see it being used to solve problems on an international scale is satisfying.
InternetNZ’s policy people continued to work on important digital equity projects to keep access to the Internet as inclusive as possible, while also continuing to focus on follow-ups from the Christchurch Call and working to ensure that policy and legislative actions are effective, proportional and not harmful in of themselves. More recently, great work by the Policy team meant that some legislation to implement a mandatory ‘broad brush’ Internet filter was defeated. As it should.
We also had a contribution to make to our community. Recognising that so many funding sources were drying up as the pandemic hit, Council increased our community funding commitment to $1.5m in the last year. This additional funding allowed us to step up our support to the partners of ours that needed it, and fund more work, particularly on digital inclusion. InternetNZ worked with our new Funding Panel of external experts to help choose the right projects.
The organisation has also realised some significant milestones since the last time I reported to you which are well worth highlighting:
- For the first time in 20 years, we’ve completed a significant grassroots-led review of .nz policies and principles which were extensively consulted on and are in the process of being implemented. Our ability to review the policies and principles in the way that we have has in part come about as a result of the organisational changes back in 2017. And those principles for the first time recognise tangata whenua to help us to guide the management of .nz in the future, making us the first ccTLD to do so.
- For the first time in 20 years, we’ve committed to (and are in the process of) a serious replacement/upgrade of the .nz registry system and established a partnership with our friends in .ca (Canada) to deliver on that upgrade. We are actively demonstrating what a serious and real international partnership looks like with other like-minded ccTLD’s. This is something that the global Internet Governance area needs more of.
- We have, for the first time in the history of the organisation, implemented a wholesale price rise of the .nz fee in order to support our comprehensive operations and our public good activities which are clearly in demand.
Whilst I am proud of what we have achieved as an organisation in the last year and the years prior to that, we haven’t got everything right. It would be remiss of me not to refer to recent events regarding threats and harm to Māori, and other communities, in Aotearoa using the Internet. We believe that all people of Aotearoa should be able to use the Internet without facing harm and hatred due to racism or other discrimination. We have more work to do here, and I am particularly pleased that Raniera Albert has joined the organisation in the role of Chief Advisor Māori in the last year to help us do more, faster and better than we would, and with Māori too.
As always, our organisation stands on the strength, perspective and involvement of our members. You keep us focused, honest and ambitious about serving the local Internet community in New Zealand. Thank you all for being part of our organisation, and thank you for having me as your President and Chair. I’d also like to thank Joy Liddicoat, who has been Vice President during my time in this role. Joy, I couldn’t have done it without you. To the various council members over the years, my thanks to you.
This will be my last report as President of InternetNZ. After seven years in this role, it is time for me to pass the baton to someone else and to see where the organisation goes next. It has been my honour and privilege to be the President of InternetNZ and to lead our Council on behalf of our members and community. I look forward to what the organisation builds in the future on this solid platform that has been laid.
Chief Executive’s report
As I came to write this year’s Annual Report, I took a look back at last year’s. It is the second year in a row where crisis has been a watchword, and the global and national impact of COVID-19 has played out through the year — and continues today and into the rest of 2021, and indeed beyond.
I am so very proud of our team in dealing with this pandemic. In moving to a remote way of working, dealing with all the stress of being at risk in a very personal way, managing working and schooling from busy homes, and simply not knowing what would come next — our core business carried on, and we made a real impact in several areas.
This report highlights so many contributions in many areas, but the work starts with the people involved and the communities in which the work happens. That is where our success is measured, or our failures felt.
With our ambition to make the Internet a force for good, we are this year confronting the reality that making it so involves work we are not yet ready for. In particular, InternetNZ’s relationship with the Māori world is not where it needs to be for us to be a capable and trusted partner. Systematic issues and blind spots have come to the fore that will require us to profoundly change our organisation and how it works.
If we are to realise the promise of the Internet and resolve the enormous harms its power can also unleash, then there is no substitute for doing that work with the people involved. We have pockets of good practice here — the review of the .nz policy framework and our participation in the Christchurch Call have promise. But we need to do much more in putting those facing harms at the centre of discussions about how to solve them.
I am confident our organisation can change to be as effective as Aotearoa needs us to be in championing digital equity and an Internet that is a force for good. There is much to be done in both areas, but a growing community of people keen to do it.
In closing, let me thank our team of staff and contractors, as well as our Council, for their insight and work this year. The operating team continues to grow and change and the work set out in this report is a massive credit to their efforts. Through new products, research insights, policy advice, new engagement capacity, the ongoing replacement project for our core .nz registry, our community funding, improved membership services. The year has seen much work done on advancing our goals together.
As Chief Executive, I rely on an open, engaged and constructive Council. Thank you all for what you bring in terms of energy, insight, challenge and aroha for the work we do.
I offer a particular and personal note of thanks to Jamie Baddeley and Joy Liddicoat who conclude their roles as President and Vice President at the AGM later this year. Thank you to you both for your support, counsel and insight over the seven years you have held these roles. InternetNZ is better for your work. Just as you have overseen enormous change, your successors will too.
With a hope that next year sees us moving in steadier seas, I thank you the reader for your interest in our work. I hope the stories in this report inspire you and remind you of the work we do, and why we do it, across the InternetNZ group.
Chief Executive, InternetNZ
Year in review
- $500,000 additional community funding
- InternetNZ switched to a flexible first way of working
- .nz price change was deferred by four months
- .nz usage surged during the lockdown
Research and publications
Work in Aotearoa and globally to help develop an Internet for good.
NetHui was held as a national event in Wellington
84% satisfaction rate
48% were first-timers
6 diverse panels and 9 discussion streams
Being current in managed isolation, NetHui came at the ideal time for me. I enjoyed feeling part of an event while being isolated, and loved being able to engage in sessions. It was also so nice to see diversity and awareness to be inclusive in language and thinking, a refreshing change to the Berlin white bro tech scene.
- Contact tracing and the Internet
- Regulatory tools to address harms from content and conduct online
- Letter to MBIE on a Consumer Data Right
- InternetNZ briefing to Minister of Digital Economy and Communications – December 2020
- InternetNZ briefing to Minister of Broadcasting and Media – December 2020
- InternetNZ briefing to Minister of Internal Affairs - December 2020
- InternetNZ briefing to the Prime Minister – December 2020
New investment and community-driven action drives significant improvements to digital inclusion across Aotearoa.
Digital inclusion projects:
Five Point Plan for Digital Inclusion
Digital Equity Coalition Aotearoa
Extra $500,000 into community funding
In 2020, we worked to nudge the needle towards digital equity and an Internet for all in Aotearoa.
Five point plan
We worked with others to produce the Five Point Plan for Digital Inclusion: COVID-19 and Beyond.
Digital Equity Coalition Aotearoa
We partnered with Digital Future Aotearoa, Spark Foundation and Todd Foundation on the establishment of Digital Equity Coalition Aotearoa (still in progress).
We prioritised grant funding for organisations with a willingness or capacity to build an evaluation into their projects and organisations.
Robust evaluation has been lacking within digital inclusion work and we expect that building that capability within the ecosystem will benefit these organisations ability to have an impact. It will also provide insight for more impactful investment into building digital equity.
Digital inclusion has long been a key driver for us, but this crisis brought the issue to the forefront. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we pledged to invest a further $500,000 into community funding and were able to fund more digital inclusion initiatives.
Community funding is about more than cash and we care a great deal about those we support. We reached out to connect with those we were already supporting financially, to reassure them of our solidarity during that difficult time and be flexible in reporting requirements.
To fund increased public good investment, grow the use, value and revenue from .nz domain names.
This year we funded:
2 conference attendance awards
Collaborative funding $180,000
Partners and grantees feedback
From Joshua Davies at Blind Low Vision NZ
Blind Low Vision NZ strives to find new ways to support our members. With funding support from InternetNZ, we have been able to distribute 3000 accessible smart devices to people across New Zealand. With these devices blind and low vision users can access books, news, reminders and much more all through voice commands.
From Nikolasa Biasiny-Tule at Digital Natives Academy
The support we have received from InternetNZ has been invaluable. It has meant that we've been able to continue to inspire young New Zealanders to dream of being digital leaders and importantly gain the key skills they will need to make that possible.
From Mandy Henk at Tohatoha
Tohatoha was able to deliver our misinformation programme to over 1000 youth and adults this year, thanks to the support of InternetNZ! We got to work directly with school libraries, faith communities, and others concerned about the impact of misinformation and the spread of hate-driven narratives online.
.nz policy review
The .nz policy review hit several major milestones during 20/21. The .nz External Advisory Panel consulted on its options paper in June 2020 and submitted final recommendations to InternetNZ in October 2020. This concluded the panel process. InternetNZ has since developed and approved an approach for taking on the recommendations. In February 2021, draft .nz rules were released for consultation, and after taking on board submissions, these rules were amended and agreed to by Council in April 2021.
Registry replacement project
The .nz registry replacement project is an ongoing effort that started in 2019 and will continue through to 2022 when we’ll have a new fully operational registry system in place. InternetNZ is partnering with the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) who will customise and deploy its CIRA Registry Platform for the home and heart of .nz.
This project will involve substantial change for InternetNZ and many of our registrar customers. We are planning and acting carefully in terms of managing all the impacts of this change. We are also working closely with our registrar customers to support their transition to this new platform.
Safety and security of .nz
- Domain name system uptime 100%.
- Since July 2019, all new .nz registrations are analysed to detect fake webshops. We analysed 149,000 domains this year, and 267 fake webshops were detected.
722,391 .nz domain names (as at 31 March 2021).
13,083 other second level domains
Develop new sources of revenue through ongoing investment in and sales of new products.
Defenz DNS Firewall
Defenz DNS Firewall is our security product that protects from malware, ransomware, phishing, and botnets. In 2020/2021 we added CERT NZ and NZ Health Community threat feeds to Defenz, making it a very localised offering to the New Zealand market.
During the unfolding COVID-19 global pandemic, we opened Defenz for a free 4 months trial. While our uptake of this product has been hampered due to COVID-19, we are pleased to be protecting close to 100 customers and over 2,200 end users.
Registry Lock allows domain holders to lock their .nz domain names for protection. In the 2020-2021 financial year, we consulted publicly on the .nz policy change required to run the new service. The registry lock is now designed and tested, and we expect it to be up and running in the second half of the 2021 calendar year.
Exploring Digital Identity
We are actively exploring Digital Identity as a potential product space. It’s an emerging tech with a wide range of user problems and solutions to validate. The rules for Digital Identity in New Zealand are still being worked out by the Government and the market is emerging. Finding the right place for InternetNZ to best add value forms the basis of our work in this space.
Over the past 12 months, we have run experiments to validate five digital identity technologies for fit with our values and market. We are now preparing for further people-focused research to round out our understanding and validate a use case to pursue. Our goal in this research is to understand how different communities are affected by Digital Identity. We see a link between Digital Inclusion and Digital Identity that is currently a gap in research. This research has broader value beyond product validation as the government's Digital Identity Trust Framework is introduced to the house.