Should .nz domain names (web addresses) be available to locals only?
Should domain names be dished out on a first come, first served basis, or should an entity with established use be given preference?
Where to for privacy and security post-Christchurch?
Does there need to be greater Māori participation in .nz policymaking?
These are just some of the questions being mulled over by a panel assembled to review InternetNZ policy.
InternetNZ is the non-profit that administers the .nz domain, and advocates for "an open and uncapturable internet", weighs into issues like the digital divide, awards various community and research grants and hosts low-cost conferences.
The panel is headed by Sue Chetwin, who recently left her long-time position as chief executive of Consumer NZ to become a law student with several side gigs - beyond the InternetNZ review, she is on the boards of the Financial Markets Authority and Food Standards Australia New Zealand.
Currently, .nz domains are available to anyone around the world.
A discussion document notes that this is not always the case. Australia, for example, requires a company to have a local business number before it can register a .com.au address.
Chetwin says there are consumer issues at stake. Not everyone realises that .nz addresses can be nabbed by all comers. An offshore party owning a .nz address can also make it harder to resolve a legal dispute.
Spark, Vodafone and Vocus take different tacks on hate-site 8Chan
Netflix NZ returns to full quality as Covid cap finally lifted
How Auckland startup nabbed millions in the age of Covid
On the flip side, she concedes the Herald has a point with its argument that as a small, export-led economy, NZ can't risk parochial tit for tat that might mean an NZ company trying to get a foothold in, say, the British market is denied a .co.uk address.
Websites for consumers should be obliged to show where they are based. I recently ordered from a .co.nz site to end up waiting for a month for the item as the company was really in the Netherlands.— Aucklandzwitscher (@aucklandzwitsch) July 22, 2020
As with all the issues in front of the policy panel, submissions are open until August 14 (have your say here ).
But there's already a squeeze on, which could inform the panel's thinking.
InternetNZ makes most of its money wholesaling domains to various resellers or "registrars" (the ISP, web developer or another third party who sells you an internet address).
For years, this revenue had chunky $500,000 or $1 million increases every year as more and more people bought .nz web addresses, and multimillion-dollar surpluses were the norm. But now there's opposition from the private .kiwi, plus, more broadly, people and businesses turning to social media and apps for their online profile.
In February, InternetNZ group chief executive Jordan Carter said, "Falling registrations are threatening our ability to offer the core security and co-ordination services which our market demands. In order to sustainably offer those vital services long term, we have to increase our prices", as he put forward a 20 per cent increase in monthly domain-name fees.
For the year to March, InternetNZ's revenue fell from the year-ago $10.8m to $10.7m as its expenses grew. The non-profit was left with a deficit of $399,511 compared to its year-ago surplus of $15,427.
Against that backdrop, it would be challenging to narrow the pool of .nz customers to NZ citizens only.
Chetwin points out the discussion document includes a number of possible paths. Another is an education campaign to let people know that a website with a .nz address is not necessarily controlled by a New Zealander.
Elsewhere, Chetwin indicates her early thinking is that InternetNZ could do more to engage with and empower Māori. The issue is framed in very broad terms in the discussion document. With some distance still to cover, it's possible that there will be a slower timetable that the rest of the review, with concrete recommendations not emerging from the panel's first round of work.
She also indicates she sees a possible expanded role for InternetNZ's Domain Name Commission wing, whose duties include managing disputes over who has rights to a website address. The DNC is currently not that accessible. Its formal mediation process costs $2000; an appeal $7200.
And she also sees an "emergency tool" introduced in April last year being made permanent. Following the Christchurch mosque shootings, InternetNZ gave itself a new power to lock a web address, making it hard to discover. The move was designed to help the Government and ISPs stamp out access to 8chan, which was hosting banned material. Chetwin says the emergency tool could become a fixture.
However, she also reiterated InternetNZ's broader aim to stay content-neutral and not play sheriff.