Communications Minister Dermot Ahern TD has confirmed that the regulation and control of Ireland’s internet domain name is to be transferred to the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), potentially putting to an end three years of criticism from the private sector, legal wrangling and a recent financial crisis.
Officials at the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources are currently drafting legislation to provide for the transfer of the .ie domain name registry (IEDR) to ComReg. The latest domain name figures show almost 40,000 websites with .ie registrations.
The move is aimed at bringing to a close a contentious chapter in the IEDR’s history that saw the departure of its former chief executive Mike Fagan under acrimonious conditions as well the organisation struggling through a financial crisis. Fagan resigned last November, more than a year after being suspended amid claims that he was bringing a lawsuit against the organisation for harassment. It is understood a standoff ensued when appointed executives from KPMG came to inspect the not-for-profit company’s books.
In November the company published its accounts for the first time in two years, posting losses of €1.2m. It is understood the two parties reached a legal settlement that included a financial package for Fagan. Recently, chartered accountant David Curtin took over the reins of IEDR after a brief period as interim CEO.
Minister Ahern this morning announced that 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.
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 ComReg to impose a levy on the registration authority to fund their expenses in relation to the management of the registration authority.
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.”
By John Kennedy