News, views and what I choose to dos

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

Category : Internet governance, Journalism · No Comments · 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.

My first story in three years – Oversee’s auction scandal

Category : Domain names, Internet, Journalism · No Comments · by Feb 4th, 2010

So I’ve written my first news story is what I think is three years. It’s on The Register and is about Oversee’s auction scandal following a discussion with CEO Jeff Kupietzky at Domainfest last week.

Here go: Domain auction house wrestles with alleged shill

I held off journalism while in my job at ICANN – mostly because I didn’t have time. This is a tentative return to be honest because you can only go so far with freelance journalism, and I’d had five years of it. In fact, I was about to get a job with a big media organisation and start on some kind of career ladder when I was offered the ICANN gig and went with it instead.

As to what I plan to do with myself: I have two business plans and two books in the offing and I’m doing some consultancy on communications, social networks and a little international politics (I am available for hire btw – just shoot me an email). But there’s something I really like about the straightforwardness of journalism. Turn up, ask questions, share what you learn and thrown in a bit of analysis. It doesn’t pay well but I love it.

I’m actually thinking about pitching a feature on Kupietzky, who gave a very interesting keynote last week and is an interesting character. Particularly since domain names are inevitably going to become more mainstream in the next few years.

How much do you

Category : Domain names, Internet, Journalism · No Comments · by Jan 27th, 2010

Enough to pay $12,000 for it?

I just got the results for the Domainfest first-day auction, described as “very strong” by Oversee’s main on the ground, Mason. Certainly looks better than last year, which was a bit of a wash-out. Is this another sign the economy is finally picking up?

Anyway, of 73 domains, 49 were sold totaling $150,950.00. It’s good but it still seems under-par. Oversee’s CEO Jeff Kupietzky alluded to this in his opening speech. Jeff believes that this is early days, that the world of domains will explode some time soon, like a real estate boom.

Maybe he’s right; maybe he needs to persuade himself he’s right, with a portfolio of one million domains that will cost over $5 million a year in holding fees. I’ll ask him tomorrow morning.

Here’s a random selection of domains, prices and mindless comments from me from the list:

Adam Epstein wins Domain-pitch-fest

Category : Domain names, Internet, Journalism · No Comments · by Jan 26th, 2010

Just an update on my previous post – Adam Epstein from AdMarketplace won the first round of the PITCHfest.

The winning idea – pubMarketplace can be found at, well, There is a flyer in the Domainfest bag about the service.

It advertises itself as “Bringing the Power of Search to Content Publishers” and offers the ad tag cloud that he showed off during his presentation.

How d’you like my shiny thing? – Domainfest 2010

Category : Domain names, Internet, Journalism · No Comments · by Jan 26th, 2010

Whenever you hear editors decrying the death of newsprint – and the Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger did exactly that this week – there is always someone who points out that online advertising has jumped x percent in the past year and is now worth xx billion.

And the response is always: but that remains only a tiny percentage of overall advertising. The online world is here, it’s coming, but it’s not enough to sustain the system in place.

Well, online advertising may not be fully matured but it not for a lack of energy or innovation.

I’m sat in the chandelier-filled Starlight Ballroom in the Fairmont Miramar Hotel, Santa Monica, attending Domainfest 2010, and on stage are five sages of the online advertising world dissecting a business model idea put to them by an eager young domainer.

As conferences go, Domainfest is a pretty exciting one. It probably has something to do with the average age of the attendee (24?) and that the industry it seeks to cover is a fast-moving, ideas-filled world.

Domainfest 2010 begins

Category : Domain names, Internet, Journalism · No Comments · by Jan 26th, 2010

I’m off to Domainfest 2010 in Santa Monica this morning, hampered slightly by a dreadful cold.

Should be interesting – this morning they are experimenting with almost a TV format and having people pitch new product and service ideas for increasing website traffic and revenue to a panel of experts who will tell them what they think.

And this afternoon a discussion about the big beast – new Internet extensions of generic top-level domains – and what they might mean. It’s titled: “New gTLDs: Bonanza or Bust?”

Then there’s a domain auction that I can’t decide whether to go to or not. May need to come back home and get some rest.

Here’s what happened at last year’s Domainfest in Hollywood.

Stand up to Trafigura abuse of outdated libel laws

Category : Internet, Journalism · (2) Comments · by Dec 16th, 2009

In October, there was outrage when UK libel lawyers Carter-Ruck prevented a newspaper from repeating questions asked in Parliament. The issue was regarding the lawyers’ client, Trafigura, which several media outlets including The Guardian and the BBC reported had dumped toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, leading to many deaths and other health issues.

Trafigura took a very aggressive stance, using the UK’s outdated libel laws to gag the media, and questions in Parliament. When the Guardian reported that it had been served with a “super-injunction” that didn’t allow it to name Trafigura, or Carter-Ruck, *or* the fact that they had taken out an injunction on them, the Internet took up the case and plastered the details everywhere. Twitter in particular came into play.

That moment was hailed as a victory of the Internet over efforts to clamp down on free speech and comment, but Trafigura and Carter-Ruck simply bided their time and have again launched into an aggressive clampdown, this time removing an article from the BBC website that covered its Newsnight investigation.

And so, people on the Internet are again picking up the baton and posting the information online, including a video of the Newsnight programme that covered Trafigura and its toxic waste dumping scandal. It is posted above. Presumably, Trafigura will now direct Carter-Ruck to take action against YouTube, at which point I am sure this will take another turn around the roundabout. Hopefully until Trafigura’s learns a valuable lesson.

I would encourage any bloggers or twitterers out there to disseminate this information.

IGP warns of ICANN participation conspiracy

Category : ICANN, Internet governance, Journalism · No Comments · by Dec 12th, 2009

Sadly, paper is no more than blinkered academic nonsense

Last month, the Internet Governance Project (IGP) put out an academic paper [pdf] that covered the issue of participation within ICANN.

As the ex-general manager of public participation for the organization, I was hoping to find some insights that I might then be able to promote from outside the tent. Instead, with sad inevitability, what presented itself was a 20-page pile of conspiratorial nonsense.

Now I happen to like the author, Brenden Kuerbis, and I also like his IGP/Syracuse University compatriot Milton Mueller, but they and the IGP appear to have developed a collective delusion about what ICANN is and how it works that informs and undermines just about all their work in this area.

Google, eBay, Facebook, Yahoo warn about UK Digital Economy Bill

Four online giants have warned the UK government against a provision in the Digital Economy Bill, currently going through Parliament. In particular, clause 17 gives a government minister the right to restructure copyright law without having to go through Parliament.

The government says this helps it to “future proof” the legislation; Google, eBay, Facebook and Yahoo disagree strongly and say it risks undermining confidence and “stifling competition”. It’s not the only bad part of the Bill, which also proposes giving the regulator, Ofcom, far reaching powers over the UK’s Internet infrastructure; and comes up with an uninspiring – possibly damaging – goal of “fast” broadband access to UK citizens.

The Lords debate – going on as I write this – is worrying in that very few of the Lords have grasped the realities of the modern digital economy and tend to be applying old and outdated perspectives and mindsets on a crucial modern part of our lives.

You can see stories on the letter from the BBC and the Financial Times. The actual letter is pasted below:

IGF 2009: Dull speeches and bad wine

Category : Internet governance, Journalism · (4) Comments · by Nov 15th, 2009

So I’m sat in the opening ceremony of the Internet Governance Forum in Sharm El Sheikh – a cosy cinema seat at the further front-right of a giant summit hall – watching the various dignatories giving a wide variety of dull speeches.

The first thing that strikes you is how much more professional this meeting has become since its inception four years ago.

It helps that the venue is ideally suited – plenty of rooms in a self-contained space with enough room to install all the endless components that make up a big meeting – but even so, for a meeting whose very existence is up for discussion this week, it is a pretty self-assured animal.

I put my money on the IGF becoming a set-in-stone institution. For the next decade anyway.

Oh no! I’m being censored again

Just as inevitable as dull speeches at these events is the Grand Censorship Moment. It’s come early this year, barely hours after the doors opened.

Yes, it’s time to get up in arms at the evildoers that stop us, the people, doing whatever stupid nonsense enters our skulls.