The chair of the Isocnz council has welcomed a sudden spurt of new membership sign-ups in the run-up to its annual general meeting.'
In a release this morning headed 'Isocnz rejects fear of capture', council chairman Peter Dengate Thrush said the council "welcomes the debate and we are pleased to see the Internet community showing such interest in our activities. This is a very healthy sign for an organisation which is vested with maintaining an open and uncapturable internet service in this country."
In the past week a number of ISPs and IT companies have signed on their staff members, apparently paying their fees, in what appears to be a show of dissatisfaction with the current policy and management of Isocnz's monopoly registry business, Domainz.
The council's AGM next Friday looks like becoming a showdown, with motions urging the move away from the Domainz monopoly to a shared registry model on the agenda, and eight sitting councillors up for re-election. They include former Isocnz chairman, and current chairman of the Domainz board, Jim Higgins, who has been a controversial figure since the leaking of a council list email in which he slammed other council members as "reptiles" and declared that "it doesn't matter a damn what the [Isocnz] members think."
In this morning's statement Dengate Thrush rejects claims - although he does not say who has made them - that "so many signups from a single interest group represents possible capture of the not for profit society which owns and manages the business in the public interest."
He says he would " also like to see the business community, and others interested in issues such as the social impact of the internet and differential access by women and Maori joining up with the society."
Dengate Thrush notes that the council is currently considering a report from a working group led by University of Victoria Computer Science Professor John Hine. The draft version of the report recommended that a non-commercial shared registry be established with Domainz maintained as a registrar in a competitive market. The council last month voted to strip the final report of its conclusions in favour of a list of options.
Isocnz's National Summit on International Internet Governance Changes is being held in Wellington next week and Dengate Thrush says that together with the AGM it will be" an ideal forum for those interested in the future of the Internet to have their say."
He says the AGM will also provide an opportunity for members to ask questions about the introduction of the controversial new domain name registry system by Domainz.