Is New Legislation A Death Warrant For IEDR?
The Communications Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2007 published on Friday may potentially be a death warrant for the IEDR. It contains enough provisions to effectively remove the administration of .ie ccTLD from IEDR should the Communications Regulator (ComReg) so wish. It also allows Comreg to levy IEDR and if necessary, fine it for non-compliance.
The first interesting amendment is this:
32.—(1) The purpose of this Part is to facilitate easy comprehension, fairness, transparency, avoidance of deception, promotion of fair competition and public confidence with respect to the use of ‘.ie’ domain names.
While it looks harmless it is rather powerful. Domainwarehosing and cybersquatting operations are effectively covered by this. The main domain warehousing/cybersquatting operation in .ie ccTLD is EUBROWSER.COM. It has over 500 .ie domains registered and has registered a number of high profile trademarks such as ADIDAS, NIKE, BEBO, ONECARE, WINDOWS-ONECARE as .ie domains using Registered Business Name certificates. It has also registered IRISHINDEPENDENT.ie, the name of one of the largest daily Irish newspapers using an RBN. This certainly falls under the “avoidance of deception” aspect of the above.
32.—(3) The Commission may make regulations for
the purposes of this section, but only after consul-
tation with the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and
Employment and such other persons and public
bodies (if any) as the Commission thinks
That subsection is where IEDR is effectively stripped of deciding the registration policy for .ie domains. Under this subsection, it is now the province of Comreg though it has to consult with the Minister and others. This is a big win for the industry. The members of the board of IEDR are just there because of who they know rather than for their industry expertise. This contention that the board of IEDR was a dumping ground for UCD and former Telecom Eireann staff and their friends was a commonly held one during the IEDR’s Fagan years and it was a source of irritation for the Irish internet industry. None of the board of IEDR has any known operational experience of the domain name and hosting industry.
Subsection 4 effectively gives Comreg complete power over .ie ccTLD: designating the authority to register .ie domains; setting renewal periods and conditions; revoking registrations, registration conditions; pricing of .ie domains and appeals against revocation of registrations.
Timetravel, it appears has been discovered. According to subsection 5, this law is retroactive:
32.—(5) The regulations shall provide that persons who have registered ‘.ie’ domain names before the regulations came into operation are taken to have
registered those names under the regulations.
Breaking the rules will be expensive. The new legislation allows for a fine of up to 5000 Euro on summary conviction.
Section 33 allows Comreg to impose a levy on IEDR for funding its activities. Maybe the management of IEDR might have to take a pay cut if this is ever used. Section 34 allows Comreg to access all .ie data including, apparently, the accounts of IEDR.
Section 35 gives Comreg the power to designate an interim registration authority and defines the term of such an appointment as being 12 months. This appointment can be renewed subsequently with the consent of the Minister. That’s basically the power to strip IEDR completely of the administration of .ie ccTLD.
Had this legislation been in force when IEDR was spun off from UCD and during the Fagan years, there is no doubt that the current IEDR would not be administering .ie ccTLD. However IEDR has changed considerably since 2000. The board of IEDR is still a bunch of talking heads who are there because of who they know rather than because of their industry expertise. They are even more irrelevant now.
The most important part of this legislation is that it strips IEDR of the policy making function for .ie ccTLD. This could be a mixed blessing for the industry. The provisions to revoke IEDR’s control of .ie ccTLD are there. If this is indeed IEDR’s death warrant, then it just hasn’t been signed and dated yet. It might have the effect of making IEDR somewhat more responsive to industry concerns. But changing policy and perhaps the introduction of personal .ie domains might become a bit more complex.
Tags: Irishblogs , IEDR , Domains , .ie , Internet Statistics , Comreg , Cyberwarehousing , domainnames