Exchanging ideas and working together

In the Debating Chamber at SIDN Connect, participants got to grips with a series of pithy motions. Who was for and against, and what should be mandatory in the Netherlands?

How to deal with compromised .nl domains; internet security in the SME sector; compliance with the anti-abuse code of conduct. Three meaty topics for the dozens of SIDN registrars in the Debating Chamber at the annual Connect event in Zeist to get their teeth into. Ambitious debate chair Chris van 't Hof would ideally have liked more people in the chamber to debate more specific motions. Nevertheless, there was almost an hour of lively discussion on the topical issues raised.

For example, should the Netherlands Consumer Authority (ACM) have the power to take down .nl domains from 2020, in its capacity as independent market regulator? A motion to that effect submitted by Registrars' Association Chair Martijn Kamphuis was supported by most people in the chamber. However, a minority opposed the idea, mainly because of doubts about the ACM's independence. "Isn't that what the court system is for?" asked one dissenting voice. The counterarguments were that "the ACM shouldn't start acting as the sector's police force" and "independent assessment isn't part of a regulator's role".

Kamphuis acknowledged that the ACM was perhaps not the ideal organisation for the role, but was pleased that an official body was being given the task. Most participants saw going to court as an option to use in the last resort, while referral to the ACM was quicker and, according to one, "a step closer to a final solution". "Registrars have failed to get to grips with the issue themselves and, now that the legislature has intervened, it doesn't surprise me that most registrars are in favour," Kamphuis ultimately concluded.

Julia Jansen (24) from Amsterdam attended the Debating Chamber at SIDN Connect. "A wide variety of serious issues were debated," said the owner of Studio JJ, active in graphic design and research. "I didn't always find it easy to decide whether I supported the motion or not. On the other hand, I liked the diversity of the topics covered. They were very different, but all very relevant."

Opportunities

Arjan Middelkoop, SIDN's New Business, Marketing & Sales Manager, moved that the improvement of on-line security in the SME sector represented a promising market, which hosting forms should not ignore. The majority of debate participants supported the motion, but also wanted to know what solutions hosting firms could offer. And to whom, since "clients at the top end of the market have their security sorted; it's only lower down that openings exist." Middelkoop responded that "SMEs see SIDN as a label offering the services they need. I think there are definitely opportunities there."

From the chair, Van ‘t Hof provoked a vocal response by playfully remarking that the original motion had been "Hosters and ISPs have a duty to advise customers about website security." That suggestion strengthened opposition to the motion, although a majority still supported it. What people took exception to was apparently the idea that security advice was a duty.

Code of conduct

When proposing the third motion of the day, Wido Potters did not paint a cheery picture. "There is a very great deal of abuse on the Dutch internet," observed Potters, who sits on the RA's Technical Committee and is active in abuse prevention at BIT. His motion was, "The Anti-abuse Code of Conduct should be mandatory for all registrars." While most people present thought it was desirable for registrars to follow the code, they bridled at the idea of compulsion. "Making it mandatory is going a little too far for me. Registrars should be able to decide for themselves," said one opponent, who otherwise supported the code's adoption. The feeling in the chamber was ultimately that something had to be done to tackle the problem. "The big companies should definitely be forced to act, otherwise they'll sit on their hands."

SIDN's Product Manager Carolien Jongerius had the honour of winding up the debating concisely with the motion, "The Registrar Scorecard incentives are making e-mail more secure in the .nl zone." The concluding remark from the floor was, "We're talking sham security here; the incentives don't directly improve security. However, maybe in a few years I'll be supporting the motion." After all, views can easily change.

Jeroen Wolsink (34) from Enschede participated in the Debating Chamber too. "The discussions weren't as lively as I would have liked," said the Antagonist staffer. "I think it would have been better if the motions were more specific, more black and white, more polarised. With this kind of debate, it's best if half the audience supports the motion and the other half is against it. As it was, there were no real fireworks. The aim isn't to find consensus, but to identify the sticking points."

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