InternetNZ closes doors on charity discussions

Unsuccessful challenge to charity move leads to media shutdown

InternetNZ last week shut down reporting of its plans to become a charity after one member unsuccessfully challenged the moves from the floor of the organisation’s annual general meeting.

Clearance was given by the meeting for InternetNZ to apply for designation as a charitable organisation, which will give it taxation advantages. After objection from one member, subsequent discussion was moved into a closed session and cannot be reported.

However, on a previous occasion, in 2001, accountancy Ernst & Young advised against such a move, because of a risk of it being seen purely as a tax-minimisation strategy, which would render it invalid under tax law.

A motion to cease membership election of officials and allow the Council to select them was defeated, but other restructuring moves were approved. The basic aim of these is to enable operational aspects of InternetNZ’s activities to be handled by clearly identified semi-autonomous units and enable the council to concentrate on a more strategic role.

Also at the AGM, former Digital Strategy chief Peter Macaulay was elected president with Ministry of Economic Development ICT specialist Frank March as his deputy. Macaulay was formerly executive director of the organisation.

The pair replace Colin Jackson and David Farrar. Elections were also held for six members of InternetNZ’s ruling Council, occasioned through a mixture of voluntary stand-downs and scheduled ending of terms.

Executive director Keith Davidson reported a successful past year, notably in influencing the evolution of telecommunications policy. Many of the regulatory reforms promoted by government were “aligned” with InternetNZ’s suggestions, he said. The organisation’s suggestions on the Copyright (New Technologies and Performers’ Rights) Amendment Bill were less successful.

Notable initiatives for the year ahead include a task-force on fibre, which may decide to promote the deployment of fibre further out in the domestic network (to the home or kerbside cabinet) and/or an international alternative route to the Southern Cross cable.

A Parliamentary Internet Caucus of members interested in the evolution of broadband and other internet-related matters is in the course of formation. Davidson describes it as a “big-ticket item” for the 2007-8 year.

Development of a new domain-name management and cancelling policy could bring future modification of the NZ registry’s staunch policy of “first-come first-served” assignment of domain names, which has been a point of contention for commercial bodies with established trade-names, particularly the banks.

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