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UK government says Nominet EGM changes enough to get it off company’s back

Category : Internet governance, Journalism ยท by Feb 5th, 2010

A quick update to my earlier post about voting to ensure that the .uk registry isn’t regulated by the government.

The top civil servant at the Department for Business (BIS, formerly BERR, formerly DTi), David Hendon, has sent a letter [pdf] back in response to a letter [pdf] from Nominet’s chairman Bob Gilbert saying that the EGM proposed changes would “largely remove the concerns” that the government has about Nominet.

There are several interesting aspects about this. The first is that David Hendon has sent a response at all, particularly considering that there are several clauses in an ongoing Bill going through Parliament that specifically address the question of Nominet governance. This is almost certainly why it is a personal letter – signed “David” and written to “Bob” – there is no way a civil servant would be allowed to write on behalf of the department at this time.

So the fact there is a response, and that Nominet has published it – something that both sides would definitely have checked and approved with each other before making public – demonstrates that the UK government is trying to work with Nominet in overcoming its concerns. And that gels with Board member Gordon Dick’s assertion that civil servants really do not want to take over the .uk registry.

The fact that Mr Hendon – who I have met a few times and have a lot of respect for – also chooses to highlight only one of the four EGM proposals will also give them both some leeway if members fail to vote in favour of the other three, less unanimous, proposals.

In publishing the letter Nominet’s chairman, Bob Gilbert, is clearly trying to signal to his members that this is the right path to go down and, speaking personally, I agree. I hope that Nominet members vote unanimously for all the EGM proposals — for their self-preservation if nothing else.

It would be a dark day for the Internet if the UK, of all countries, was to introduce government regulation of an Internet registry. I am pretty confident that, having stared into that particular abyss, we will be able to walk away and learn some lessons. But that rests in the hands of just a few thousand Nominet members that get to vote.

Below is the full text of the letter:

Dear Bob

Thank you for your letter of 26 January enclosing proposals to implement the Garratt Report that Nominet intends to put to its membership at a forthcoming EGM.

I am grateful to have a chance to study the proposals. I am particularly pleased to see a specific proposal to amend the Articles to reflect Nominet’s public benefit purpose. That recognition is important and is an indication of the crucial role Nominet and the .uk domain plays in the UK’s Internet economy.

I hope that your membership will vote to accept these proposals which certainly would largely remove the concerns that I have explained in a couple of speeches to some of your member over the last year or so.

Yours sincerely,

David

David Hendon
Director, Information Economy

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