Holders of new domain names are being warned to check that the names are registered in their name - and not that of the ISP which handles the registration process.
The Internet Society has been contacted by a man who was shocked to find that the domain he thought was his was not actually registered to him. ISOCNZ chairman Jim Higgins fears there may be other cases in the wake of last year's overdaul of the New Zealand DNS, which established the role of ISPs in the name registration procedure.
"This is something we suggested might have been happening, but it's really impossible for us to prove because don't see any instructions that go direct to an ISP," says Higgins. "All we do is get a request - please register this domain name - and we have a look and if no one else has got it, that's fine and it goes ahead."
Name holders can now easily check details held against the name via the ISOCNZ Website (http://www.isocnz.org.nz) and Higgins says the society is urging people to do so.
"Legally, we have no obligation, but if that situation has occured, then the person who thought they had the name needs to talk to their ISP abour breach of contract."
The ISP issue is not the only one to fall out of the confusion over management obligations of name holders, and Higgins says it will be noted in a "Mozilla message" (so called after the mail automatically received by anyone who installs Netscape Navigator for the first time on a system) which will become standard procedure for the registry.
The management issue also came up this week when Dean Pemberton raised the issue of the deletion without his knowledge of a domain registered to his name - because his former employer, the Globe Net ISP deleted his domain record from its nameserver.
Pemberton had registered proactive.co.nz and other names before Globe net went into a period of liquidation. Once his domain record was removed from Globe Net's server, it no longer fulfilled the minimum requirement of being listed on two nameservers and was completely deleted from the New Zealand DNS.
In a letter of complaint to the ISOCNZ mailing list, Pemberton said that when he tried to update the DNS information to include a new nameserver "ISOCNZ informed me that the domain had been suspended. I called ISOCNZ and was told that Mr Hanson had deleted a number of domains, including several of mine.
"Globe Net did not have authority over the domain and should never have asked for it to be deleted. In the current situation it may have been possible for another company to apply for the same domain name and be granted it."
Higgins' response, directing Pemberton to "RFC 1591", was considered by some to be dismissive, and Higgins admits that the obligations of name holders need to be clarified.
"We do take the point that we probably need to get out to these people," he says. "And what we're looking at doing is creating some sort of Mozilla-type message which will go out to everybody once their domain is registered. It'll say 'Hey, congratulations, you're the manager of the so-and-so domain. Now, you have a set of responsibilities and here they are ... and if you get in breach of these responsibilities the name may well be removed from you. So then at least everyone knows where they stand."