The Digital Economy Bill has been taking up a lot of my time since the start of the new year and I’m pleased to report one result. The Bill gives the Secretary of State powers to intervene in the operations of a DNS registry where a serious failure of the registry is likely to affect the country’s or consumers’ interest. Unfortunately the definition of the registry in the original clause 18 managed to capture any organisation that ran the primary nameserver for any domain within .uk!
I was able to work with the London Internet Exchange (LINX) to draw this to the attention of the Bill team, and the Government has now tabled amendments (starting with amendment 214A and going through to 225C!) that effectively reduce the scope of the power to only the top two levels of the .uk domain hierarchy. So JANET(UK), as operator of .ac.uk and .gov.uk, is still covered (we’ll just have to behave ourselves), but those further down those domains aren’t.
Unfortunately that’s not the only unclear definition in the Bill – my next task is to find out whether under clause 16 universities and colleges are going to be grouped with ISPs (“Internet Access Services”), virtual ISPs (“Communications Providers”) or households (“Subscribers”!), and what this means for us and you.