Response to Consultation on: Powers in relation to UK-related domain name registries

The Chapter has submitted a response to a DSIT (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology) Consultation on: Powers in relation to UK-related domain name registries.

Please find it below:

——– Forwarded Message ——–

Subject:Response from the Internet Society UK Chapter to Consultation on: Powers in relation to UK-related domain name registries
Date:Thu, 31 Aug 2023 14:26:01 +0100
From:Olivier MJ Crépin-Leblond <>
CC:Olivier Crépin-Leblond <>

Dear Sir/Madam,

the UK Chapter of the Internet Society is hereby responding to the Consultation on the drafting of powers under the Digital Economy Act 2010. However we must point out that the consultation deadline and its timing over the summer holiday period has prohibited inclusive stakeholder engagement which is a concern given the huge implications for stakeholders of the UK Internet globally.

We recommend strongly that further consultations and outreach are conducted more broadly to ensure that management and governance of UK Internet resources engage all stakeholders. As the UK is seen by many as a model for running Digital resources, there should also be a consideration in regards to the broader context internationally, of the impact of changes to the governance of the UK Internet in other countries.

There are several points which we must raise in response to the questions asked in the Consultation:

1. This consultation is on the drafting of powers under the Digital Economy Act 2010. This Act is now over 12 years old and the Internet, its applications and its Domain Name Market have significantly changed since 2010, thus drafting of powers based on this Act may be completely inappropriate and unfit for purpose.

2. The powers granted to the Secretary of State in case of a breach are far over-reaching.
There should be an independent body made up of both commercial and technical experts that would check that those powers are being used in a sensible manner.
Overall, there is a a need for much greater attention to balancing both technical, legal, human rights and democratic accountability than the consultation has set out.

3. The requirements amount to content regulation to be performed by Top Level Domain operators, something which they are not equipped for, nor structured to perform. In a democracy where freedom of speech is a fundamental right, if content regulation was to be performed, this should involve a court and a judge as well as an independent body along side the judge that could ensure this process was fair – and the current process does not include this. Furthermore there would not be any redress available for content providers whose content was taken down. This amounts to censorship without recourse and opens the door to the taking down of content with no accountability, no checks and balances and no safeguards..

DNS is not an appropriate point for intervention on content-related issues.

It is worth noting that gTLD registries already have contracts in place with ICANN which describe registry roles and responsibilities as well as a cooperative working relationship with most legal enforcement agencies.

4. Regarding Section 3. Defining the Misuse and Unfair Use of Domain Names

We find the definitions to be adequate but have a concern that requiring the Registry to police Domain Name Use and therefore Content is completely out of scope, as described in our point (3) above.

Registry operators have responsibilities and commitments mutually with other stakeholders comprising the global Internet
community as well as with Internet communities they serve in the UK to ensure DNS registry information and resolution is reliable to service resource resolution for any number of applications and services including critical services.

There is no sense of appreciation of these potential consequences nor is it likely that the Secretary of State or even the Registry operator or a Regulator be in a position to make such an appraisal without broad stakeholder involvement.

5. Regarding Section 4. Design of the Dispute Resolution Procedure

A Registry is not equipped for conducting a Dispute Resolution Procedure. The whole process should run under the UK’s legal system which, by law, is fully equipped with being able to cope with disputes of the nature that have the importance of content regulation. This is no light topic and has to be addressed by professionals in accordance with the Law and taking into account Freedom of Speech, Human Rights and UK Law.

As for Domain Names under a Generic Top Level Domain, there are already several providers of the Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy established in Europe and on other continents. Domain name registrants should have a choice of UDRP provider as an alternative to a Judge. They should also have a choice of Territory under which the dispute should be addressed.

6. Regarding the section relating to the Summary of Business Impact:

The powers granted would make the United Kingdom a very unattractive and burdensome place for the UK Internet Domain Name Industry which, by its very nature, could easily delocalise elsewhere, thus having a serious negative effect on the attractiveness of UK Tech.

Overall we are concerned about the unwanted and unclear effects of these proposed powers and would recommend first a review of the Digital Economy Act 2010, its fitness for purpose and its faults before engaging in allocation of powers on what is already an obsolete Act, a consequence of which might end up in negatively impacting freedom of speech as well as the economic future of Britain’s Digital Economy.

We strongly recommend a wider dialogue between policy-makers and the technical Internet infrastructure community to ensure evidence based policy making.


Olivier MJ Crépin-Leblond
Chair – Internet Society UK Chapter