Blogger forces Irish domain registry into sunlight

Good. But when will prices come down?


Irish blogger and Internet consultant Antoin O'Lachtnain has succeeded in his bid to force the secretive company running Ireland's .ie domain into the open.

Following a lengthy battle with IE Domain Registry Ltd (IEDR) and the University College Dublin (the original owner of the registry) using the Freedom of Information Act, an appeal has finally seen the not-for-profit director-owned company ordered to release large amounts of correspondence concerning the .ie domain.

The company has attempted to block the release of any material by claiming alternately that it is commercially sensitive, would break others' privacy, may prejudice upcoming trials, would break the laywer-client privilege and doesn't exist or can't be found.

The Information Commissioner refused to entertain nearly all grounds and ordered the information be released, despite IEDR and UCD's concerns that doing so would "expose the company to prejudicial media comment".

IEDR has eight weeks to appeal on a point of law, after which the workings of Ireland's most important Internet company will be laid bare. Mr O'Lachtnain told us he doesn't even know if there will be anything of interest within the huge pile of paperwork but his intention was to force greater transparency onto the company.

He doesn't intend to stop either until the private company running a very public resource is made more accountable, in line with domain registries across the world. "We want IEDR to immediately publish its accounts, replace its current board members and introduce new procedures," he told us.

Despite officially spinning off IEDR in July 2000, UCD remains in control of the company, remains registered as its official owner at IANA, and chooses four of the company's five directors. IEDR currently charges one of the highest prices in the world for its .ie domain. For one year, and assuming your registration is accepted, a .ie domain will cost you €69.95 or £49.58. This compares to £36.36 for purely commercial domain .tv; £10.56 for a .com domain; and just £3.04 for a .uk domain.

IEDR executives have, in the past, attributed this disparity to extra costs associated with running a restricted domain (i.e. manually checking applications). However, with numerous mistakes and errors made and with more relaxed rules now operating, pressure has been building for several years for the prices to come down. IEDR's refusal to disclose or even discuss operating costs has made it impossible to put its claims to the test.

IEDR's first published accounts, published on 14 May 2002, saw the company produce an operating profit of just €91,670 (£65,613) on turnover of €1,936,535 (£1,386,073). This seems rather small, especially when the company had &242,529 in reserves from operating profit from when the registry was run by the University College Dublin.

The profit to income percentage comes out at 4.74 per cent. This compares to 16.8 per cent recorded by .uk domain owner Nominet in the same year, despite Nominet investing heavily in new equipment and infrastructure. IEDR says the financial results were "satisfactory" due to a series of "one-off costs" that included unquantified "necessary legal, accounting and technical costs".

Also, poor performance was also attributed to "the foot and mouth disease alert" and "the tragic events in the US on 11 September". How did this affect the market for buying Irish Internet domains?

The turbulent history of the Irish Internet (ignoring the fury surrounding high-cost Internet connections and poor ADSL roll-out), including its restrictive, arcane system and over-priced domains can be attributed to ancient Internet roots.

Nearly every country domain was originally started up and run by academics. But across the world, the same problems (lack of legal knowledge, business nous, marketing expertise, ability to see future problems) has caused those academics to slowly let go control to realise the Internet's wider potential. In Ireland's case, however, the UCD has not taken its hands off the tiller and the country's homegrown domain industry has suffered as a result.

Antoin O'Lachtnain's victory at releasing what will no doubt be hugely tedious paperwork should at least make IEDR realise it can no longer live in its own cocoon. Once UCD relinquishes control, Ireland will soon catch up with the rest of the world and we may see .ie domains rise from the pitiful 35,000 currently registered to potentially millions, each one advertising Ireland to the rest of the world. ®

Related link
Antoin O'Lachtnain wins


Other stories you might like

  • Ransomware encrypts files, demands three good deeds to restore data
    Shut up and take ... poor kids to KFC?

    In what is either a creepy, weird spin on Robin Hood or something from a Black Mirror episode, we're told a ransomware gang is encrypting data and then forcing each victim to perform three good deeds before they can download a decryption tool.

    The so-called GoodWill ransomware group, first identified by CloudSEK's threat intel team, doesn't appear to be motivated by money. Instead, it is claimed, they require victims to do things such as donate blankets to homeless people, or take needy kids to Pizza Hut, and then document these activities on social media in photos or videos.

    "As the threat group's name suggests, the operators are allegedly interested in promoting social justice rather than conventional financial reasons," according to a CloudSEK analysis of the gang. 

    Continue reading
  • Microsoft Azure to spin up AMD MI200 GPU clusters for 'large scale' AI training
    Windows giant carries a PyTorch for chip designer and its rival Nvidia

    Microsoft Build Microsoft Azure on Thursday revealed it will use AMD's top-tier MI200 Instinct GPUs to perform “large-scale” AI training in the cloud.

    “Azure will be the first public cloud to deploy clusters of AMD's flagship MI200 GPUs for large-scale AI training,” Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott said during the company’s Build conference this week. “We've already started testing these clusters using some of our own AI workloads with great performance.”

    AMD launched its MI200-series GPUs at its Accelerated Datacenter event last fall. The GPUs are based on AMD’s CDNA2 architecture and pack 58 billion transistors and up to 128GB of high-bandwidth memory into a dual-die package.

    Continue reading
  • New York City rips out last city-owned public payphones
    Y'know, those large cellphones fixed in place that you share with everyone and have to put coins in. Y'know, those metal disks representing...

    New York City this week ripped out its last municipally-owned payphones from Times Square to make room for Wi-Fi kiosks from city infrastructure project LinkNYC.

    "NYC's last free-standing payphones were removed today; they'll be replaced with a Link, boosting accessibility and connectivity across the city," LinkNYC said via Twitter.

    Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said, "Truly the end of an era but also, hopefully, the start of a new one with more equity in technology access!"

    Continue reading
  • Cheers ransomware hits VMware ESXi systems
    Now we can say extortionware has jumped the shark

    Another ransomware strain is targeting VMware ESXi servers, which have been the focus of extortionists and other miscreants in recent months.

    ESXi, a bare-metal hypervisor used by a broad range of organizations throughout the world, has become the target of such ransomware families as LockBit, Hive, and RansomEXX. The ubiquitous use of the technology, and the size of some companies that use it has made it an efficient way for crooks to infect large numbers of virtualized systems and connected devices and equipment, according to researchers with Trend Micro.

    "ESXi is widely used in enterprise settings for server virtualization," Trend Micro noted in a write-up this week. "It is therefore a popular target for ransomware attacks … Compromising ESXi servers has been a scheme used by some notorious cybercriminal groups because it is a means to swiftly spread the ransomware to many devices."

    Continue reading
  • Twitter founder Dorsey beats hasty retweet from the board
    As shareholders sue the social network amid Elon Musk's takeover scramble

    Twitter has officially entered the post-Dorsey age: its founder and two-time CEO's board term expired Wednesday, marking the first time the social media company hasn't had him around in some capacity.

    Jack Dorsey announced his resignation as Twitter chief exec in November 2021, and passed the baton to Parag Agrawal while remaining on the board. Now that board term has ended, and Dorsey has stepped down as expected. Agrawal has taken Dorsey's board seat; Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor has assumed the role of Twitter's board chair. 

    In his resignation announcement, Dorsey – who co-founded and is CEO of Block (formerly Square) – said having founders leading the companies they created can be severely limiting for an organization and can serve as a single point of failure. "I believe it's critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder's influence or direction," Dorsey said. He didn't respond to a request for further comment today. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022