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Ireland’s .ie To Come Under Government Control

The Irish domain registry (IEDR) is to come under the control of the Commission for Communications Regulation ComReg.

At present the registry is managed by a “not-for-profit” company, however it has come under increasing criticism with regard to both its management and policies. Although there are approximately 40,000 IE domains currently registered, it is still one of the strictest and most expensive ccTLDs in the world.

According to a press release:

...a draft heads of a Bill has been prepared providing for the regulation of the functions carried out by the IEDR in relation to the management of the ie domain name be vested in Com Reg. It is expected to go before the Cabinet shortly. The new Bill will provide also for fines of up to ?2,000 daily for non-compliance with regulations laid down with the operation of the registry.

Minister Ahern said: “The .ie name is Ireland’s website address. As such it is in a sense a national resource. I want to ensure that Ireland’s national domain name registry is in a position to thrive and benefit business and consumers alike. I believe the transfer of responsibility to an organisation such as Comreg will immeasurably strengthen the operations of the registry. In addition, increased regulatory sanctions will ensure that those in breach of domain name regulations will be hit in their pockets.”

The new Bill also provides for the Minister to issue policy directions in relation to the management of the domain name. Other aspects of the Bill allows for administrative issues in relation to the management of the domain name including authorising Com Reg to impose a levy on the registration authority to fund their expenses in relation to the management of the registration authority.

In recent months the rules and regulations have been relaxed to some degree, but the legacy of its former management’s policies still haunt it.

By Michele Neylon, MD of Blacknight Solutions

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John McCormac  –  Apr 21, 2004 12:48 AM

IE Domain Registry Limited crippled the development of .ie cctld as a viable alternative to .com/net/org. When IE Domain Registry Limited was spun off as an independent company from University College Dublin (UCD had administered .ie cctld previously), UCD appointed people who had no apparent operational experience of the domain name business to the board. The .ie cctld suffered. The .ie cctld turned into an overpriced and underutilised cctld that could not compete with the .com/net/org. At a price of up to 150 Euros for a .ie, the cheaper and less bureaucratically encumbered .com was the obvious choice for Irish internet users especially as the .com was a tenth of the price of a .ie registration.

Admittedly IE Domain Registry Limited had become more responsive to industry concerns over the past few months but it has been said that the prospect of imminent demise concentrates the mind wonderfully. Some industry members are prepared to give IE Domain Registry Limited the benefit of the doubt. However more doubt the benefits that would be derived by letting IE Domain Registry Limited’s operation of .ie cctld continue.

Due to continuing industry complaints, various legal actions, management problems, financial problems and sheer frustration with how .ie cctld was being mishandled, the Irish government decided late last year (November) to transfer policy and regulatory functions from the problematic UCD spin-off company. This was a very clever move to protect the integrity of .ie cctld. By removing the policy and decision making processes from IE Domain Registry Limited, it allows for the reassignment of the technical operation of .ie cctld to another company. This appears to be a long term objective. If IE Domain Registry Limited becomes commercially insolvent or collapses, it will not destroy .ie cctld as well.

By moving the policy and decision making processes away from the board of IE Domain Registry Ltd to ComReg, the Irish government moved them to an organisation that has to publically consult on decisions. This public consultation on policy and regulations has been absent for the past few years with the board and management of IE Domain Registry Limited. The board and management has effectively run .ie cctld as their own private property without concern for the Irish internet community. And now that asset, the .ie cctld, has once more been restored to the rightful owners - the Irish internet community.

To people not directly involved in the Irish internet business it is, perhaps, difficult to understand the disaster that .ie cctld had become under the board and management of IE Domain Registry Limited. As for the ‘so called commercial entities’ who wish to use the government’s authority to set .ie policy, the commercial entities just happen to be the entire Irish hosting and domain name industry. The Irish internet community is not too happy with IE Domain Registry either and have voted with their credit cards. The number of Irish owned com/net/org domains is at least three times that of the number of current .ie registrations. The biggest ISPs in Ireland use .net instead of .ie.

This splitting of regulatory and operational functions is a start. It reduces IE Domain Registry Limited to nothing more than a service supplier. Sooner or later, ComReg may decide to put the technical operation of .ie cctld out to tender. This may result in a competent, industry backed venture, subject to ComReg and public oversight, operating .ie cctld for the benefit of the Irish internet community. Now wouldn’t that be something worth seeing?

Michele Neylon  –  Apr 29, 2004 11:42 PM


Although I can appreciate some of your concerns I would be very cautious about welcoming the move to comreg. As a government body they are yet to have any significant impact on any of the industries that they regulate. If you look back over the last few years, with particular focus on the availability of broadband the picture becomes all too clear. The bureaucracy of a state department cannot possibly compete with the agility of free market forces.


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