Removing domain names

June 28th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

considered racist toward Maori can not be removed by the body that manages them unless they are ordered to by a court.

One domain name, unemployed.maori.nz, links straight to the Work and Income New Zealand website.

Another, called kai.maori.nz, redirects to the KFC website.

Auckland University of Technology lecturer Steve Elders it was part of a growing trend of “online Maori bashing”.

The Domain Names Commission (DNC) should de-register them, he told Radio New Zealand.

I’m a member of the Domain Name Commission. I don’t speak for them on this issue. I’m just commenting on the wider policy issue.

I’m really not sure that people want the Domain Name Commission made judge, jury and executioner as to which websites are acceptable, and which are not. Call me old fashioned but I think it is up to Parliament to decide on what content is legal or illegal, and for the courts to decide if something is in breach.

As fun as it would be for me, and four others, to have the power to unilaterally remove websites and domain names from the Internet purely because we don’t like it, I’m really not sure that is good for the Internet or for New Zealand.

But the commission can not take down domain names unless a court orders the body to, its  communications adviser Patrick Watson told Fairfax Media.

“It’s not in the Domain Name Commission’s mandate to investigate anything to do with content, so we don’t comment on any material published online,” he said.

“With these sorts of issues, people who have concerns about the actual content, they have to follow alternative routes with lawyers or the Commerce Commission, or the Human Rights Commission.”

The commission had an open registration process and names were taken on a “first-come, first-served” basis.

But  the commission received a court order, it would  make sure the order was complied with.

A domain name is just an identifier on the Internet. What people do with it – good, bad or neutral, is up to them. If they break the law with it they face consequences. If a court orders a domain name removed (which does happen sometimes), then the court order is complied with.

New Plymouth’s Brett Healy, the registrar of the domain unemployed.maori.nz, said offence was “taken, not given”, and he had not publicised the domain in any way.

“Claims like Mr Elders seem to be over-dramatic, the other domains referenced don’t appear to have page ranks on Google or have any sites dedicated to directing users to go there,” he said.

That is the interesting thing. As far as I can tell a number of these domain names were registered by people who participate in GP Forums - known for pranks like this. Some of the domains were registered over a decade ago, and some around a year ago. They had never been picked up in Google or anything. They were basically a private joke that no one would stumble over unless they went looking for them. Ironically it is the complaint from the academic which has made them well known.

The other issue with this is that removing a domain name should be a last resort. A domain name is not the same as a website. A domain name can enable numerous services such as e-mail. If there is an issue with a particular website, it is preferable to target the website, not the domain name – there can be significant collateral damage – often to innocent parties, when domain names are targeted.

The other thing to also remember with domain names, is that anyone who manages a domain name can create a sub-domain. If you (for example) registered unemployed.com you could create a sub-domain of maori.unemployed.com and redirect that to the WINZ website also.  So trying to exert censorship through the domain name system will almost inevitably fail.

This is not to condone the antics of those involved. If people don’t like what they have done, then they can complain to the Human Rights Commission, or more preferably express their disquiet directly to the individuals that registered the names, and are using them in that way. Unlike some other TLDs, .nz does not allow registrants to conceal their identities. That means the registrant of a .nz domain name is publicly contactable.

Again, note these are my personal views.

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26 Responses to “Removing domain names”

  1. Redbaiter (7,642 comments) says:

    Why are the domain names a worry?

    What is the actual harm being done?

    This racism thing has gone must too far. It appears to be an excuse to bring the heavy hand of big government down upon people for the slightest pretext.

    Time we got over being endlessly manipulated by never-ending cries of “racism”. Protests that are in most cases of very little real worth.

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  2. Manolo (13,396 comments) says:

    Oh, the poor, precious and over-sensitive buggers. The heart bleeds.

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  3. dime (9,472 comments) says:

    heh thats pretty funny.

    does givesmemoney.maori.nz exist?

    just a wee bit sensitive i think!

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  4. Alan Wilkinson (1,816 comments) says:

    Obviously Elders is an idiot. End of story.

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  5. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    “This is not to condone the antics of those involved. If people don’t like what they have done, then they can complain to the Human Rights Commission, or more preferably express their disquiet directly to the individuals that registered the names, and are using them in that way. not look at the site

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  6. PaulL (5,875 comments) says:

    The reason this is stupid is that it’s not the domain that’s offensive. It’s what’s been done with the domain.

    If I registered unemployed.maori.nz, and I then started a business (or a charity) that specialised in finding jobs for Maori NZers, and had my home page on that site, I’m sure that nobody would be complaining. (I also sort of feel like in the absence of such a business, redirecting them to WINZ seems entirely reasonable, so I’m not sure even the current usage is offensive).

    If I registered kai.maori.nz, and on it I had recipes for traditional Maori food, I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t be offensive either.

    So the point is the registration itself isn’t offensive, so there’s nothing the registrar can do. If tried to register fuck_you_john_key.maori.com, the name itself is offensive. That should probably not be permitted. But if the name itself is not offensive, only the use to which it’s being put, then the right place to complain is somewhere else.

    Next step of course is me pointing out that satire sites are OK as well. If we start getting offended by the content on sites, then both dimpost and the civilian are in trouble. (And when academics get to decide which jokes are funny and which aren’t, we’re also in trouble).

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  7. Pete Macaulay (47 comments) says:

    DPF, You have stated the issue clearly, and hopefully anyone with a complaint will not get silly about it. This is not a racist attack. Having a URL point somewhere else is normal practice, however in these cases it is a piss-take. If you are offended by the connection, contact the person who registered the site and explain why you are offended. They may be reasonable.

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  8. itstricky (1,579 comments) says:

    I’ve just registered:

    ‘saleofcheap.kiwi.nz’ and redirected it to the MRP Investor Centre &
    ‘opionated.geek.nz’ and redirected it to Kiwiblog

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  9. itstricky (1,579 comments) says:

    Oh, and also:

    ‘stoneage.org.nz’ and redirected it to a list of Manolo’s quotes.

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  10. Alan Wilkinson (1,816 comments) says:

    If I could be bothered I’d register elders_is_a_dickhead.org.nz and redirect it to this story.

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  11. itstricky (1,579 comments) says:

    Alan Alan Alan remember you subdomains. Like this:

    Opinionated.white.blogger.geek.nz redirecting to this story

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  12. itstricky (1,579 comments) says:

    Incidentally Alan, you should visit cool.kiwi.nz for some calm pills. Calling someone a dickhead because they do not understand the domain syatem is hardly winning friends in the world. You will find, in the case of the registration with false details that Elders is actually right -it will be deregistered. And your example is one that would be subject to deregistering by the way…

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  13. Alan Wilkinson (1,816 comments) says:

    @itstricky, lost your sense of humour – or never had one?

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  14. meh (165 comments) says:

    DPF: Ironically it is the complaint from the academic which has made them well known

    Also know as “the streisand effect”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect

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  15. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    Alan Wilkinson , itstricky is possibly more cantankerous and unpleasant than Red. Life is a very serious and depressing matter for those two and levity has no place in it. ;)

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  16. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    If you do not believe that racism should be protected speech then you do not believe in freedom of speech. People like Steve Elders need to grow up and get over their hurt feelings. Morons like that achieve nothing but giving racists a sense of victim-hood and publicity for their prejudices.

    People like Steve Elders need to grow up and join the world of adults who combat stupid opinions with superior argument, they don’t run to the nanny-state crying that so’n’so is being a meanie.

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  17. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    Weihana, what is considered racist is way too subjective to be subject to law. A lot depends on a persons personal views. If the test is that someone claims to be “offended” by something, then it can [and is] used to shut down free expression and accountability. Offensiveness is also totally unproveable.

    I decide for myself if someone is bias against a certain race, but I judge any statement they make on its merits, without concern about it being “racist”. I think most intelligent people do the same.

    Those who want laws, forcing people not to say things, give little credit to our common sense and decency.

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  18. Brett Healy (1 comment) says:

    Just to be clear, Mr Elers has not been in contact with me before or after his “research” was done.
    In fact I have had no one from outside people I know contact me in regards to my domain.
    Even with him publishing my details on national television.

    I dont see the issue Mr Elsers has and previous people who had found my domain had no valid reasoning for the removal of my domain or redirection. WINZ have over the 10 or so years gladly accepted the referrals i have given them and I’ll be putting the redirection back in place once the stuff referrals die down… that or redirected to meatspin.com if my domain keeps getting published.

    Thanks for the honest write up David.

    Regards,
    Brett Healy

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  19. Jack5 (4,597 comments) says:

    That’s right. Censor cartoons. Ban web site names.
    While they’re at it, ban laughing.
    Fuck the PC bullies!

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  20. Alan Wilkinson (1,816 comments) says:

    @Jack5, an unattractive final proposition. Suggest they should be left to do it to themselves.

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  21. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    Kea (5,531) Says:
    June 28th, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    I decide for myself…

    Absolutely and that is the crux of the matter: the freedom to decide for oneself and the utility of that freedom in terms of laying the foundation of all human knowledge. My favourite argument of course is from Chapter 2 of “On Liberty” where Mill outlines the argument in support of restrictions on the promotion of ideas thought to be wrong and dangerous:


    It is the duty of governments, and of individuals, to form the truest opinions they can; to form them carefully, and never impose them upon others unless they are quite sure of being right. But when they are sure (such reasoners may say), it is not conscientiousness but cowardice to shrink from acting on their opinions, and allow doctrines which they honestly think dangerous to the welfare of mankind, either in this life or in another, to be scattered abroad without restraint, because other people, in less enlightened times, have persecuted opinions now believed to be true. Let us take care, it may be said, not to make the same mistake: but governments and nations have made mistakes in other things, which are not denied to be fit subjects for the exercise of authority: they have laid on bad taxes, made unjust wars. Ought we therefore to lay on no taxes, and, under whatever provocation, make no wars? Men, and governments, must act to the best of their ability. There is no such thing as absolute certainty, but there is assurance sufficient for the purposes of human life. We may, and must, assume our opinion to be true for the guidance of our own conduct: and it is assuming no more when we forbid bad men to pervert society by the propagation of opinions which we regard as false and pernicious.

    The rebuttal to this of course is quite simple and beautifully put:


    I answer, that it is assuming very much more. There is the greatest difference between presuming an opinion to be true, because, with every opportunity for contesting it, it has not been refuted, and assuming its truth for the purpose of not permitting its refutation. Complete liberty of contradicting and disproving our opinion, is the very condition which justifies us in assuming its truth for purposes of action; and on no other terms can a being with human faculties have any rational assurance of being right.

    http://www.utilitarianism.com/ol/two.html

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  22. itstricky (1,579 comments) says:

    @itstricky, lost your sense of humour – or never had one?

    If your level of repartee is contained to calling someone a ‘dickhead’ Alan, I wouldn’t be running around commenting on other’s humor.

    I think I just read the article, rather than just spouting off “PC bulls*” because I’m not capable of stringing together anything other than slogans. I found that it says:

    Domain names considered racist toward Maori can not be removed by the body that manages them unless they are ordered to by a court.

    So, your outburst is because of one person’s personal comments. Those comments are actually factually correct in light of holders who put such sites up but don’t register valid contact details:

    Watson said registrants had to submit accurate information, and if it was discovered the information was inaccurate, the domain name would be cancelled.

    That’s what most people would call common sense.

    Don’t let me stop -you- however from having a a good self-centred whine about how PC is ruining the world and how you managed to call someone a dickhead. What a hero.

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  23. Alan Wilkinson (1,816 comments) says:

    My God, you are a pompous twit, itstricky. Elders said the domain names are racist and should be removed. He is an idiot – they aren’t and anyway shouldn’t be. Watson’s comments are irrelevant to that. So are yours. Get over yourself.

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  24. itstricky (1,579 comments) says:

    It a nothing story made out to be something such that people such as yourself can have a big whine about the PC brigade, Alan. Surely you subconsiocously recognise that good stuff. Please do hurry back now to work on your next red faced, vein popping, world-changing slogan that’s going to win you quality digital friends on KB.

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  25. BlairM (2,288 comments) says:

    kai.maori.nz – redirects to KFC! Brilliant!! :-P

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  26. Alan Wilkinson (1,816 comments) says:

    @itstricky, apart from being a pompous twit you also suffer from paranoid delusions. My “big whine about the PC brigade” is a figment of them. Get treatment.

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