Internet governance – growing issue for InternetNZ

InternetNZ is considering the formation of a committee to look after internet governance matters

The question of internet governance in New Zealand is an increasing issue within InternetNZ, with a discussion document on relations with the government due to be placed before the next meeting of the society’s council later this month.

InternetNZ is also considering the formation of a committee to look after internet governance matters, “including our relationship with ICANN and the New Zealand government, as well as our place in the Pacific [and] the relationship of InternetNZ with other [national] domain organisations in the region,” says executive director Keith Davidson.

InternetNZ has to date enjoyed little recognition for its status as steward of the .nz domain.

“We’re listed in the IANA database and that’s about the extent of it,” says Davidson.

The .nz oversight committee (NZOC) has put together a discussion document on developing a more formal relationship with the government, and there is a “strong recommendation” that there should be some formalised agreement, says NZOC head Frank March.

This might take the form of a “memorandum of understanding” similar to those in effect in the UK and Canada, or a different style of document.

Security issues are prominent in the discussions, with government representatives expressing concern as to how secure the .nz space is, says March.

He raised the matter at the recent InternetNZ annual general meeting and confirms that, if discussion of a formalised relationship intensifies, he will have a conflict of interest as chair of NZOC while also working at the Ministry of Economic Development.

A further question for a hypothetical internet governance body to consider is the interest of inter-governmental bodies, such as the United Nations and its subsidiary body the International Telecommunications Union, in participating in governance, says Davidson.

“We [InternetNZ] are a supporter of the [private-sector] ICANN model rather than having the internet governed by one of these treaty organisations like the UN or the ITU,” he says.

But there are issues like cybercrime and spam, where such bodies and national governments clearly have a legitimate interest, he agrees.

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