Isocnz to deal with wayward child

Amid plenty of last-minute manoeuvring and some temper tantrums after the event, nine new councillors have been elected to the Internet Society council.

Amid plenty of last-minute manoeuvring and some temper tantrums after the event, nine new councillors have been elected to the Internet Society (Isocnz) council.

I should point out at this point that my brother-in-law is one of them (hi, Stephen) and I shall be mercilessly abusing that relationship for your reading pleasure in the coming months.

Familial disclosures aside, I think the new council certainly has its work cut out for it. The expectations of some very vocal members are now squarely resting on their shoulders, if expectations can be said to rest, and woe betide any of them that advocate a period of calm or ponderous thought.

So what lies ahead for Isocnz and its wayward offspring, Domainz? Looking at the list of motions put to council at the AGM, both parties will be in for something of a shake-up.

Motions put and carried include deploring the defamation action brought by the Domainz CEO Patrick O'Brien against Alan Brown and the demand that Domainz withdraw support for the suit.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. An independent review will be launched to look at Domainz's performance during the "design, construction and implementation" of the new registry system - something the current chair Peter Dengate Thrush abstained from voting on.

The AGM also voted no confidence in the board of Domainz and voted to have the working group look at the question of whether a person can be on the boards of both Domainz and Isocnz - something that both Dengate Thrush and previous chair Jim Higgins have done.

In addition, the meeting voted for a formal procedure to be put in place that would allow members to get answers to questions about the finances of both Isocnz and Domainz "in a timely manner" something which many members have complained about for some time now.

O'Brien's salary has been a bone of contention on the Isocnz mailing list since it was revealed the annual report did not list his salary as was required because it was decided he would be listed as a consultant and thus not have to reveal his pay packet. Quite who decided this is something of a murky issue and having financial information more readily available to its members can only be a good thing.

The meeting also voted to have the so-called "rules of cabinet secrecy" removed - the Isocnz council has operated under these rules where individual councillors cannot be seen to contradict the party line. Now councillors will be allowed to speak out on issues and that is also a good thing because part of Isocnz's problem as far as I see it has been this veil of secrecy surrounding every action it takes.

Finally, the meeting voted to do away with the confusing double use of terms and terminology Domainz had foisted upon the industry and to stick to the internationally agreed terms for registrar, registrant, agent and so on, much to the relief of this reporter. I can finally take down my translation sheet and destroy it.

On the surface it appears we are to have a more open, communicative council than previously. Whether this is the final outcome or not remains to be seen but it is a fundamentally important shift in thinking and I am pleased to see it.

Currently the list is busy discussing just how open the discussion will be and that as always is generating a lot of heat. I hope they open the discussion up to all members, and I encourage you all to join up if you want to be involved in the future direction of Internet access in New Zealand.

As to the defamation suit against Brown, he is waiting to hear whether or not O'Brien will drop it. Brown claims he has been damaged by the suit himself and has lost around $200,000 worth of business because of it.

If O'Brien carries on with the suit it will be without the support of Isocnz or the society in general and the damage he causes will, in my opinion, only be to himself.

Paul Brislen is a Computerworld journalist. Send email to Paul Brislen. Letters for publication should be sent to Computerworld letters.

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