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Who polices the Net in New Zealand?
Copyright © 1998 to Bruce Simpson, syndication rights available
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23 Apr 1998

Have Your Say

Who polices ISPs when they decide to act against the best interests of an ex-customer? Indeed, do Net users or Web site developers and owners have any protection from the autocratic actions of those who control access to the Net?

Ask Russell Holland, Web designer and Internet developer and owner of the high-profile WebFoot Publications. Holland discovered just how little protection there was from within the industry when he encountered problems during a move from one ISP to another.

In the normal course of events, changing providers is not a problem - these things happen every day for various reasons. In Holland's case however there has been a twist which highlights the lack of real controls and policing which exists on the Net as it is administered today. These are events that could affect anyone attempting to undertake the same kind of relocation.

The ISP which previously hosted Holland's web sites - Brice Parker Consultants, a Gisborne access provider, has refused to cooperate in the transfer of Holland's Web sites from their system.

BPC refuses to update their own DNS server to reflect the relocation of Holland's sites. The effect of this recalcitrance on the part of BPC is that none of the Net users who use their ISP service can now send email to Holland or "see" his Web sites since their relocation.

According to Holland, this "blocking" started on the 18 of March.

Holland is currently seeking legal advice and claims the situation is adversely affecting his business credibility.

"They are withholding email transmissions, without letting the sender know - so who owns those messages? They think they have the right to do this, I don't think they do and am prepared to go to court over it" says Holland.

Invited to comment in general terms on the issues involved (rather than any particular case), Patrick O'Brien of Domainz, the organisation responsible for domain name registration in New Zealand, said that Domainz had no real power to act, other than to try and help the parties concerned to resolve their differences.

"Any actions we take are measured, and mindful that we must do our best to minimise impact on the wider net" said O'Brien. "Where we have had to come down firmly, we prefer to target if possible, the cause of the issue. In some cases we have withdrawn Agent privileges to register names. This may not sound a 'big thing'. However, we do find that pretty soon, the Agent responds as they cannot provide a full range of services to their customer base. This leads them to having to explain to their customers why the situation has occurred."

"We eventually find that this leverage is sufficient to get resolution."

Unfortunately for Mr Holland and his business, it would appear that the actions taken by Domainz (if any) have to date been singularly ineffective.

In the meantime, both customers and audience from his local area are unable to email him or see his sites.

This particular case has caused a number of people to ask "what ever happened to the ISP Code of Practice?". The COP was initially a reaction to the threat of government control over the Net in light of problems with access to pornography and other restricted material. Since this threat appears to have diminished somewhat, the COP has languished for over a year.

Perhaps it is now time for ISOCNZ to step in and enforce the terms of this code - a good starting point would be the resolution of Mr Holland's problem. Failing that, I wonder what ever happened to ISPANZ?


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