Proz.ac proves a downer for local policy makers

Prozac might shed light into the lives of millions, but it's causing a holiday season headache for Internet Society policy makers. The latest in a series of semantic disputes over the New Zealand DNS began last month, when Simon Green, an employee of The Internet Group, registered the domain proz.ac.nz. The problem? The .ac.nz second-level domain has traditionally been regarded as the preserve of tertiary educational institutions, as .school.nz is for primary and secondary schools. But, unlike the moderated .govt and .mil domains, there is no policy stipulating that to be the case.

Prozac might shed light into the lives of millions, but it's causing a holiday season headache for Internet Society policy makers.

The latest in a series of semantic disputes over the New Zealand DNS began last month, when Simon Green, an employee of The Internet Group, registered the domain proz.ac.nz.

The problem? The .ac.nz second-level domain has traditionally been regarded as the preserve of tertiary educational institutions, as .school.nz is for primary and secondary schools. But, unlike the moderated .govt and .mil domains, there is no policy stipulating that to be the case.

Then, last week, the domains netlink.ac.nz and netlink.school.nz were added to the DNS on behalf of Wellington-based ISP Netlink. A Netlink spokesman could offer no explanation for the registration of the names.

Green says he discussed the validity of his domain with staff at Domainz, ISOCNZ's stand-alone registry agency, and pointed out that regardless of whatever rule changes were "happening next month or whatever", he had every right to register the name.

"I really just did it for a bit of fun," says Green. "I've got no plans to use it for a Website at the moment, but it just seemed like something unique - I don't think there are many other names you could make out of .ac.nz. I also wanted k.iwi.nz but I was told I couldn't have that."

The .iwi domain is not officially moderated - in that no third party has been appointed to govern it - but frivolous use is apparently not approved. Such was always the practice under Waikato University's Rex Croft, who created most of the current second-level domains in the DNS and exercised an unofficial stewardship over applications for names until the burgeoning registry business was taken over by ISOCNZ. Croft feels strongly that ISOCNZ should regulate access to the .school and .ac domains and has offered to act as an informal moderator.

The ISOCNZ council did indeed debate the merits of moderating the educational domains last month, but resolved eventually to stay with the status quo. Now, says chairman Jim Higgins, there's every chance that the issue will be revisited by popular demand. Higgins, however, sees no reason for a change of policy.

"There are strong arguments both for and against," says Higgins. "But it's a difficult one - education isn't as clear-cut as .govt or .iwi, and that's likely to become more and more the case with the outsourcing of educational services. The other issue is whether this name being registered has actually harmed anybody. I don't think it has."

A member of ISOCNZ, David Farrar, strongly disagrees, and says if the council "refuses to put in place a moderation policy I will seek a Special General Meeting of the Society which has the power to direct the council. The ac.nz and school.nz domains have been moderated for many years, since they were created I believe, and ISOCNZ council did not consult with anyone at all before ditching the admittedly informal, but still real, moderation policies.

"Apart from members of the council, every other person who has been involved in the public discussion has supported moderation, for obvious reasons. The arguments of the council that it is difficult or impossible to draw a line has not stopped other countries managing to do so."

Farrar says the Ministry of Education and Te Puni Kokiri should be consulted in seeking moderators for the educational and .iwi domains respectively.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Market Place

[]