Domain Name Day: Whois, tokens, .nl and digital infrastructure as main port

Is the slacking demand for .nl domain names due to the arrival of so many new extensions, or to some other cause? That was one of the questions that occupied the registrars attending the Domain Name Day: an event held in Amersfoort by the Registrars' Association on 2 June. A definite answer remained elusive.

"The plateauing of the .nl domain coincides with the arrival of the new domains, so the two things must be linked," it was argued. "But, by making domain names less essential, the emergence and development of apps have been influential as well," another registrar countered. Others present suggested that the .nl market was simply saturated. The people from Mijndomein – the organisation that controls the .frl and .amsterdam extensions – had a different take on the situation: "After thirty years of .nl, it's good to see how much we have shaken up the TLD market with .frl and .amsterdam."

Time's up for the Whois?

Registrars attending Domain Name Day also debated the motions 'Transfer tokens should not remain valid for more than two weeks', 'There is no reason why the Registrar Whois shouldn't be closed to protect privacy' and 'Registrars that don't invest in DNSSEC are only thinking of their own profit margins'. Although the discussions were lively, they sometimes strayed from the subject, onto topics such as the lack of clarity in the motions. The motion about transfer tokens was carried by a small majority, while the motions on DNSSEC and the Whois were rejected.

Clear picture of the current TLD landscape

The arrival of hundreds of new extensions boosted the global number of nTLD registrations from 11 million to 16 million between October 2015 and March 2016. The world had a grand total of 323 million registered domain names at the end of the first quarter of 2016: an increase of 3.7 per cent (9 million) on the close of 2015. Of those 323 million, 177.5 million were under gTLDs and 145.5 million under ccTLDs, Berend van Resello reported. "The market share of the new gTLDs increased from 3.5 per cent to 5 per cent in the first quarter," he said. "New gTLDs accounted for 56 per cent of the total market growth."

The market leader is…

With 125.5 million domain names, .com remains the largest single TLD. In a strong second places comes the .tk extension. Where country-code extensions are concerned, .cn (China) is something of an oddity, sometimes growing by 50 per cent in a single month. There are now 18.5 million registered .cn domain names. The .eu domain has dipped considerably. Meanwhile, .nl has 5.6 million registrations or 1.8 per cent of the market.

And the winner is…

Domain Name Day was also the occasion when the RegiStar Awards were made. "I am really touched to receive this, mainly because today is only my second day at TransIP," said a stunned Omar Benameur when RA board member Norbert van der Knaap handed him the coveted RegiStar Award on Domain Name Day. "Winning this award really means a lot to me," he told the audience. Resello and SpamExperts were also recognised, in the categories '.nl reseller' and '.nl supporter' respectively.

Mandatory data breach reporting

I myself briefly outlined the implications of mandatory data breach reporting, particularly for hosting service providers. In the event of an incident, a hosting firm has to decide what role it has in relation to the data: are you the data processor, acting on behalf of someone else, or are you yourself the data controller? If you play the role of data processor, you don't have to report anything to the Data Protection Authority directly. However, you must inform the data controller, so that they may report the matter. If, on the other hand, you are the data controller (or joint data controller), reporting is your responsibility. Regardless of the precise arrangements, it is advisable to make clear data processing agreements with your relevant business partners.

Tech white paper

Finally, Kees Verhoeven (MP for D66, the liberal democratic party) and Stijn Grove (of the Dutch Datacenter Association) spoke to the gathering about the importance of continuing to develop Amsterdam as the Netherlands' digital main port. At the same time, the hinterland should not be neglected, because a chain is as strong as its weakest link. Considerable investment is needed, with the emphasis on ultra-high-speed infrastructure and the number of connections, the audience heard. "We have achieved a lot, but it seems that we are now standing still," Verhoeven said. He urged politicians not to ruin the internet by interfering to protect privacy, for example. He also announced that D66 planned to put forward a Tech white paper in June.Verhoeven went on to call for coding to be added to the school curriculum for pupils aged six and above. "It is very important that children are introduced to computer code and programming at an early age. They have to understand how digital technology works," he argued. "Coding is a language, which needs to be taught alongside Dutch, French and German. Other countries are ahead of us in this field."

Programming lessons for kids

Fortunately, the Netherlands now has several schemes designed to introduce children to code and programming at an early age. They include Ronilla Snellen's Code Hour: a lesson programme supported by SIDN Fund, which provides programming tuition for primary school pupils from years 7 and 8. Ronilla made a short presentation, as did the developer of Totem Open Health, a device that monitors your vital functions and movement, recording the data on an internal flashcard. Sander Steffan also spoke about his project, which is intended to accelerate and facilitate the introduction of IPv6. With more than a hundred enthusiastic participants, Domain Name Day was a great success. Nevertheless, there is room for growth, and we intend to make next year's event even better.



Margreth Verhulst

Managing Director Registrars' Association

+31 6 537 115 60

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