5 May 2017
.NZ Domain Name Commission
PO Box 11-881
Submitted to: email@example.com
Re: .nz WHOIS Review Fifth Consultation
This submission is made on behalf of Television New Zealand Limited (TVNZ), in response to the Domain Name Commission’s (DNC) fifth public consultation relating to its .nz WHOIS review. TVNZ thanks the DNC for the opportunity to make a submission in respect of this review, and welcomes the further opportunity to discuss these submissions with the DNC.
As you will be aware from TVNZ’s submission in response to the .nz WHOIS Review Fourth Consultation dated 8 November 2016, TVNZ’s concerns about the proposed changes relate to the impact the changes will have on the ability of rights holders and the independent news media to hold individuals to account in respect of their conduct online.
The detail provided in Section 23 of the proposed amended Operations and Procedures policy, which relates to the procedure for disclosure of withheld data, goes some way to addressing these concerns. With that said, it would be helpful if the DNC could provide some more guidance with respect to the Memorandums of Understanding referred to from 23.25, and in particular, the circumstances in which the DNC envisages that it would be willing to grant certain entities streamlined access to Registrants’ Withheld Data.
The FAQs on the DNC’s website state:
It’s likely that we’ll only sign MOUs with statutory investigative and enforcement entities, or involved in ensuring the integrity of the Internet. There will be two different sorts of MOUs – those with approved entities having automatic access and those where approved entities have streamlined access to the withheld information. Automatic access will be restricted to approved entities tasked with maintaining cyber security and an extremely high threshold will be adopted before such an MOU is entered into.
As noted in the previous submission, TVNZ’s position is that members of the news media should be entitled to streamlined access to the full record in light of the fact that the news media fulfils an important function in informing society on matters of public importance and holding people to account for their actions. The above response in the FAQs suggests that the DNC does not consider the news media would be eligible for streamlined access to full records, but the reality is that the timeframes set out in the earlier provisions of Section 23 will, as a matter of course, frustrate the ability of the news media to act on information and investigate allegations in a timely manner.
TVNZ requests that the DNC reconsiders the ability of news media entities to enter into MOUs for streamlined access. It submits that such an approach would be consistent with the responsibility often afforded to news media, whereby news media is often granted access to information that is otherwise not publicly available and is trusted to deal with such information in an appropriate manner (e.g. in the context of reporting on court matters). Further, to the extent that individuals feel the news media has overstepped the mark in a particular instance, there are complaints forums and sanctions available by virtue of the oversight provided by the Broadcasting Standards Authority and Press Council. 2
TVNZ would welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter further, and to work with the DNC with the goal of preparing terms for the MOU which strike an appropriate balance between competing private and public interests. We look forward to hearing from you in due course.