back to article Mandelson's dept mulls UK internet power grab

Ministers led by Peter Mandelson are considering a power grab at the independent company at the centre of UK's internet infrastructure, The Register can reveal. Mandelson's Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) has asked Nominet, which is in charge of the registry, to justify its independence …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't kick the habit...

    Looks like New Labour have become nationalisation junkies and are busy looking for things they can take into 'public' ownership without upsetting their gazillionaire friends and donors.

    Brown's lot are getting like the Attlee government - albeit without the competence, decency, intelligence, sense of purpose or flat caps.

  2. Dangermouse

    A tax on the internet?

    Why else would be looking to take control? Oh, wait....control...

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Exclusive behind-the-scenes eavesdrop

    David Hendon: "What arguments would you employ to convince my Ministers that the present relationship between government and the and the company is appropriate in ensuring that public policy objectives in relation to the management of the domain name system and the standing of the UK in the internet community are are understood and taken into account?"

    Bob Gilbert: "Wot? Was there even a single comma in that sentence? I didn't understand what you said."

    David Hendon: "Aha! Gotcha! You don't know the answer. All your Internetz are belong to us."

  4. Anonymous Coward

    The less the government controls...

    The better.

  5. Dan Silver badge

    Losing count

    How many government departments want to do a power grab for the Internet now? Off the top of my head Culture, Home Office, and now BERR. Any others?

  6. Neil Liston

    Oh God! No!

    there are no words in the English language that adequately describe what a bad idea this is.

  7. jayeola

    Does Lord Mandy approved this article?

    * user hits send

    Thank you. Your coment has been read and approved by Her Majesty's Government. You will now be asked to provide your National Insurance Number and tax code. This is in order to allow us to post the comment that you have made to the approproate third party.

    * user sends email

    It looks as if you are trying to send an email to a third party without it being vetted by the Govt. This is to ensure that your email will not be hijacked by terrorists or does not contain material which may be considered to be offensive by the Govt.

  8. dave

    Control freakary

    Not a fan of nominet.... but I sure as hell do not want NuLabour to have control of them. NuLabour using anti-terrorist laws to freeze Iceland’s assets proves that they cannot be trusted at all. It is more fascist blairite control freakary.

    I can just see any website that dares to criticize the NuLabour government would have their registration pulled. And there is so much to criticize.

  9. Haku

    Re: A tax on the internet?

    Nothing new there, the government are always looking for new things to tax, here's some pretty convincing evidence:

  10. andymurd

    If New Labour take control...

    They'll leave the entire DNS registry on a train seat or in the back of a taxi.

  11. davenewman

    Youth control, not government

    Get those who have grown up using the Internet, the young people who use it every day, to set the policy, not civil servants or Ministers, neither of whom are qualified to govern it.

  12. Tom Chiverton

    How about they do what they like with and leave the rest of us out of it ?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    What could possibly happen...

    Any sites that contain any information that goes against the government then suffer at the hands of main DNS and refused renewal?

    Failure to be able to register domain names that contradict the current government?

    Control of the Internet in general... When did we become China?

  14. Hollerith

    which Russkie wants it?

    Because Mandy is there to do the will of his paymasters^H^H^H^Hpoliical friends and allies. Does nobody in Lulab blink at the eye-watering corruption hat surrounds this man?

  15. Si
    Thumb Down

    Oh dear...

    I feel a twat-o-tron worthy rant coming on about this sort of government involvement.

  16. Blitheringeejit

    I'm confused...

    Even the Reg article isn't very accurate - as well as, Nominet also controls and, all available to the general public. AFAIK it also controls, though it restricts these registrations to genuine schools, under it's own strict terms, so they can't be hijacked by "domainers". So Nominet has shown itself capable of responsibly managing a public-service namespace - in exactly the same way as the government has shown itself totally INcapable of managing anything whatsoever to do with IT.

    But I thought the government already controlled its own, etc namespaces directly..? Does Nominet have actual control (via DNS) of the entire .uk namespace including, and could a Nominet board vote theoretically take tbe government subdomains over and use them commercially? Anyone know?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    First the massive communications db...

    Then the realisation that all those billions of IP address pairs they've captured are going to be no good unless they have complete control over the DNS and can keep a full audit trail of any changes made to it. Like domain registrations.

    All they then need is to add a mandatory ID card check before you can register your web-site or mobile phone and they've got you coming *and* going.

    No2ID anyone?

  18. O

    This has got to stop .....

    ... the Government are completely out of control. By the time the election rolls around in 2010, the Tories or Lib Dems will be inheriting what was the charred wreckage of the UK.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    don't worry

    lets have a whip round and get some cash together to bribe Mandelson with. After all he's not elected, and likes the Russian's money well enough.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Bring in the clowns...

    In answer to David Hendon's question "What arguments would you employ to convince my Ministers that the present relationship between government and the company is appropriate in ensuring that public policy objectives in relation to the management of the domain name system and the standing of the UK in the internet community are understood and taken into account"

    My answer:

    "It is inconceivable to me that an organisation (HMG) that has - so far - shown a staggering lack of basic competence in handling their current data, be allowed access to more data. On the other hand, the current registrar (Nominet) whilst suffering some issues (so I understand) seems to have a - comparatively speaking - a spotless record.

    Therefore the proposed move from Nominet to BERR would not benefit "UK Internet" in any way. Furthermore it could conceivably leave the DNS registrar open to accusations of undue interference, politically inspired bias, cronyism, and Big-Brotherism while not delivering any improvements to the customer base, (of which I am one). In fact, it would be a relatively safe wager that the level of service will decrease."

    In summary - if it looks like that weasel Mandelson will get his hands on my registrations then I'll close them and try and get non .uk alternatives! What an a-hole that guy is! :P

    Black copter icon in tribute of obvious BB overtones in this story.

  21. alain williams Silver badge

    Noooooo !

    Nominet works well enough! We don't want politicians in charge, they will only screw it up, make it cost more, introduce extra red tape, ... I'm not happy at the thought.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Why coudn't..

    Ross and Brand not have pranked called Mandelson instead! this would have gotten more coverage in the media, or more likely totally ignored and swept under the carpet (Which is probably 20 foot off the floor in places by now!).

  23. Anonymous Coward

    I'm from the government and I am here to help

    yeah, right.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    This doesn't sound like a BERR initiated approach. Spooky timing if you ask me.

  25. Anonymous Coward


    Perhaps we should be asking BERR and their cronies to justify *their* existence - we pay their salaries, after all. As for Mandelson, it's a pity that he exists at all - it's proof that if there is a higher power then he/she/it has a pretty sick sense of humour.

    Just waiting for the announcement that there'll be a national firewall set up (a la Oz) to protect us from the terror du jour.

    Bunch of fuckwits.

  26. Christoph

    Double Plus Ungood

    Hey look, we've found a bit of the country that we haven't yet trashed. Better grab it quick!

    What next, spend millions on consultants to 'improve' it into a smoking ruin?

  27. Anonymous Coward


    True, I don't live there any longer, but I haven't noticed this government nationalising much.

    Oh wait, yes... there is the little matter of them now owning a percentage of the high street banks. Nationalisation? You mean you'd rather have seen locked doors at the bank when you went to draw you beer money?

    Is this El Reg? or the BBC? It's often hard to know the difference.

  28. Quirkafleeg

    Bunch of…

    … datatards.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    And as importantly ,what about ........

    the fact that it appears that Nominet is being run by a SHADOW DIRECTOR called "Mandy"

    or UK Gov ?. I asked BT today whether after they were Privatised the Government wanted to control them. They said now and expressed surprise that here was the UK Govt trying to control a Private Company called "Nominet" . I would not let this Government run a piss up in a brewery because they would probably get it all wrong and serve lemonade by mistake.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Dear Mr Hendon

    What arguments would you employ to convince myself and my fellow voters that there is any good reason why we should allow you to control our domains? Terrorism and paedophilia need not be mentioned, as straw men do not constitute arguments.

    I have a much better idea. Piss off and get your nose out of things which do not belong to you. Just because the government does not have control of a thing does not mean that the thing must justify its existence to a bunch of bureaucratic control freaks like yourselves.

    Yours sincerely,

    A (former) Labour voter of 24 years.

  31. Martin Silver badge

    Tell sid

    But if the goverment takes it over then it could sell shares to us!

    Nationalise banks + privatise air traffic control; did somebody get their notes the wrong way round?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The simple answer is...............

    The simple answer is..........."To remain free from Political Interference"

  33. Nigel Wright

    Oh dear!

    no! No! NO!

    HMGov leave this alone. It's independent from you. That is good. It's free from political interference. That is good. Government and IT does not mix. We do not want the Labour power junkies/control freaks interfering in matters such as this. It will end up terminally broken, corrupt or both.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nominet adopt an old NuLab strategy...

    The Nominet Board didn't get their own way at the AGM when the vote for C6 didn't get passed.

    Therefore they go jolly up their chums in HMG to put the frighteners on - effectively scaring Nominet members with F.U.D. and therefore falling into line.

    What's that smell Captain Bob?

  35. Chris G

    CD encryption is difficult

    For the gov' so actually running something as fundamental as DNS is to the web must be totally alien to them. Mengelesson being involved tends in my mind to indicate that there's money in it for him after the next election,otherwise why would this corrupt lowlife be involved?

    He obviously has no sense of embarrassment having made more comebacks than Frank Sinatra , who, I have to say, I would prefer in British government (even dead) than mandy. At least with his mafia connections he would be more efficient and he could sing the ex PM's tune `They did it my way´.

    Incidentally, how does one blackmail a government into giving one a peerage and a ministerial position?

  36. Spider

    feck off

    just feck off.

    i'm sorry. it's all i can manage i'm so angry.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    Government go heal they self!

    It appears that HMG want to rescue more "control" over the internet... let us ask a couple of questions...

    Q1. Since when was Nominet (or any other private company) supposed to implement Governmet "public policy"? Public policy is a matter for government and nothing to do with Nominet... There is nothing wrong with Nominet's governance... it just isn't what the Government wants... which appears more involvement/more control...

    Q2. Before UK HMG goes throwing its weight around and attempting to "power grab" from Nominet for the TLD's that Nominet are in charge of... shouldn't they get their act in order and run their own bits of the internet name space properly first?

    Take a look at the "" TLD... it is dependant on the DNS servers from UK academic sites and Holland for its operation! Where are the government's own DNS servers? I do not see any entries like: or

    root# dig soa

    ; <<>> DiG 9.4.2-P1 <<>> soa

    ;; global options: printcmd

    ;; Got answer:

    ;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 45663

    ;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 8, ADDITIONAL: 12


    ; IN SOA

    ;; ANSWER SECTION: 86400 IN SOA 2008102960 28800 7200 3600000 14400

    ;; AUTHORITY SECTION: 40836 IN NS 40836 IN NS 40836 IN NS 40836 IN NS 40836 IN NS 40836 IN NS 40836 IN NS 40836 IN NS

    ;; ADDITIONAL SECTION: 62535 IN A 59438 IN AAAA 2001:630:0:47::42 59983 IN A 59983 IN A 59438 IN A 59438 IN AAAA 2001:610:1:800a:192:87:106:101 59438 IN A 145838 IN A 59439 IN AAAA 2001:630:0:45::11 59438 IN A 59437 IN A 145838 IN A

    ;; Query time: 23 msec

    ;; SERVER:

    ;; WHEN: Wed Oct 29 22:10:23 2008

    ;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 488

  38. Thomas Baker
    Thumb Down

    Without too much effort...

    ...they could've called themselves either BEER or BER (Beyond Economical Repair).


  39. Dave

    Nominet or the Government?

    I'm afraid I trust Nominet more than I trust this government on running the .uk registry. Nominet do at least try to do it on a not-for-profit basis, whereas HMG would probably charge us at least three times as much for a much poorer service. You probably wouldn't be able to register (someone has...) if HMG was in charge.

  40. Stephen

    The way I see it...

    You have three choices:

    1. Nominet as is - run badly by vested interests in the commercial world to their own agenda

    2. Government takes over directly - run badly by vested interests in the government to their own agenda

    3. Create a body like the BBC - government but divorced from obvious government influence with independent guarenteed funding - run badly by vested interests in both the government and commercial sectors.

    Fun! Isn't it?

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    What arguments would you employ?

    1. We have fulfilled our obligations under UK law

    I think we should restrict a political party's ability to choose the pm to a maximum of 2 terms. After that, governments run out of harmless things to do and start to really mess things up.

  42. Anonymous Coward

    You trust a bunch of tossers already

    If you Muppets had any clue about Nominet you would not be so scathing of the Gov on this one.

    Why should we trust a bunch of self elected puppets ? (I am talking about Nominet - for you "All Things Gov are Bad" people who wander around like sheep following the other guy who hates the Gov because he is following another guy who does the same.)

    The good thing about the Gov is that pretty much everything ends up on public record for your inspection (if you can get the time between cussing them down!), the other good thing is that feck off when we choose (and we get the other gang back in to undo everything... bit of an endless circle I know, but hey you chose democracy!) They are also accountable to public opinion (otherwise known as the Tabloids).

    I say nationalize the fecking thing then they can STFU winging about this that and everything else that they currently do.

  43. Neoc
    Thumb Down

    HMG? You sure?

    So... remind me again what the UK royalty is good for? All this f*k-up from Whitehall and I can't recollect a single "tut-tut" from Windsor.

    At least the US Presidents (f*k-up as *that* political system is) have the power to veto stupidity. Not that they exercise it much.

  44. Anonymous Coward

    What a good idea!

    Complete control of UK DNS in the hands of our elected representatives? Brilliant idea - I'm all for it.

    They have proved we cannot trust them to run the country.

    They have proved we cannot trust them with securing our data.

    They have proved someone with no constituency and no voters can have a major say in the way the country is run (despite being kicked out before - not just once but TWICE).

    Soon we will not have to worry about our greenhouse emissions because they will have completely destroyed the UK's infrastructure.

    My answer to David Hendon would be..: "I do not need to prove to you that the system works - just look out your window. See those crowds of angry people complaining they have no internet access? Any businesses going down the tubes because their websites are unavailable? No? Then run back to your master with your tail between your legs and leave our service alone, you interfering little twit. See you next Thursday."

    I tried to think of a short word or phrase to express my real opinion of this wunch of (mis)Government bankers, but could find nothing of suitability for putting into "print".

  45. Chris G

    Bids are being accepted now

    For your domain names.

    If Mandy and co nationalised Nominet they would be running auctions for domain names the way the DVLC flogs personal number plates with vastly overvalued prices and the cash getting lost in the coffers of govuk. Business and enterprise are for enterprising businesses not greedy self seeking gov' departments.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Who owns the Internet?

    The users of the Internet, that's who; not Government. There is no need for regulation; if ain't broke don't fix it.

    So there! You can go bury your but somewhere else Mandleton.

  47. Anonymous Coward

    The internet...

    Enjoy it while you can - learn what you can while you can.

    Setting up web sites will soon be like getting a book published. Open to those sanctioned by the liberal elite and openly favouring lightly witty fiction. Everyone else can go take up muttering in parks and waving badly written banners.

  48. dervheid
    Black Helicopters


    It's a slow, steady process, tends to go unnoticed until it's too late.

    My betting is on the Bank of England being the next institution to be "brought back into the fold" of NuLabourian control to "protect the economy of the UK"

    Papers Please, Citizen.

  49. michael

    why nominet

    if I am reading this right the governments argument t is that nominet is such a vital part of a vital infrastructure it should be in there hands?

    if so why are they happy to let other parts of vital infstrutures remail privite eg power grid, water, gas, and the phone lines them self?

  50. David Lester

    A former Labour Minister does Nominet's job for them...

    A quick google through (now cached only) shows that a certain Right Honourable Stephen Timms had this to say about nominet:

    "I am really pleased that Nominet has taken the lead, showing that this really is not a government-led, top-down initiative, but one grown from the Internet community. It is an initiative that engages with all parts of the social and economic fabric that benefits from, and contributes to, the development of the information society.

    The Forum is not a club for governments, not a decision or treaty making forum. It serves to improve our understanding, to help us make better decisions, to find better ways of addressing problems.

    The Internet Governance Forum has identified key topics to help orient its discussion: access, diversity, openness and security. As well as concern from some countries about the management of critical Internet resources. These issues are all important for the future of the Internet, and they cannot be addressed in isolation from each other.

    Next June the OECD is organising a ministerial conference on the future of the Internet economy. That will see a similar focus: how to increase global connectivity? How to respond to the changes in use of the Internet? How to allow individual choice for access to content?

    These things are looked at differently around the world. There are different expectations and concerns. The more we can do to understand the challenges and the opportunities, the better prepared we will be to take advantage of the knowledge economy, of the societal benefits from the innovation and growth of this powerful channel of communications and human interaction.

    And that’s where Nominet’s Best Practice Challenge comes in. The UK has a good story to tell. We can use our position as a major knowledge economy to help show others examples of good practice, to help others address concerns. Sharing good practice like this will also help us to identify things that we could do better.

    And so to the best practice challenge awards.

    First, I’d like to commend Nominet for their initiative: this is really important in helping underline UK leadership.

    Second, I welcome the community’s response in coming forward with first class examples of what can be achieved. That must have made Alun Michael’s job as chair of the selection difficult.

    And third to commend the selection team for choosing between the really good to identify the excellent.

    Competition has been strong. There is a wealth of good examples which we can show the world with pride. Which show the UK off as a forward thinking, Internet economy that cares for its citizens, too.

    Perhaps Bob and Lesley could tell us about the shortlist?"

  51. N

    The way I see it

    Were going to get a crap deal whatever happens, even in the unlikely event of 'nothing happens' Nominet is a quango run to its own agenda & Stephen, youre pretty well spot on with your three options - none of which would provide a better service.

    So, if by some unlikely chance Gordon Clown actually gets elected in 20(Ill hang on as long as possible) - Im off because Ive had enough...

    Oh shit, theres a van with blacked out windows just pulled up with Jacqui Schmidtt & her gang of internet uber lieutenants have just surrounded the building....

  52. Wayland Sothcott
    Paris Hilton is a national resource is a national resource important to the UK as a whole and to millions of individuals. It's right that the government should make sure it's not bought up by some foriegners. Electricity companies suffered this fate, EDF stands for Energy De France! They let the equipment get old and broken then it explodes killing british workers.

    However this government is probably not ones who you would want in charge of the Internet. If my domains get censured on then I will move them to another registra. If all the DNS servers get censured then I will set up my own DNS. If everything gets censured then I and others will set up an underground tunneling Internet, same as the origional only over VPN.

    Savvie people will want to join the Underground Internet which will grow and grow whilst the Official Internet it just full of Joss and Bland making sexual jokes.

    Paris represents what the Internet will contain if the Government and Virgin and BT get their way.

  53. jon
    Thumb Up

    Nominet needs to be split up

    It currently performs three, inherently conflicted, functions:

    - it is the industry regulator

    - it is the registry operator

    - it is also a registrar

    I have no problem with Nominet acting as regulator, though it should look to widen it's membership.

    It should tender out the operation of the registry on a commercial basis, and should enforce technical and commercial accreditation processes on registrars to ensure that minimum standards are maintained.

    It should stop being a registrar.

    The role of the government in all this should be to authorise Nominet as the self-regulator.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mike Richards

    About as perfect an assessment as you could wish for - you wouldn't catch them being so keen on renationalising rail or electricity.

    This sends a real chill up the back, particularly given this governments Stalinist take on freedom of speech and obsession with "controlling the message" at any cost - the message actually taking more time to think through that the policy it is supposed to underline. Government by media becomes a hell of a lot easier if you can just flick a nice centralised switch to silence your dissenters - or at least those rash enough to have Nominet controlled domains.

    Every time they announce yet another breathtaking piece of repressive fuckwittery, you wonder how they're going to top it, but somehow the idiot juice just keeps flowing and increasing in potency.

    I would write to my MP, but I'm sure I'd only get sectioned... or is that coming in next week?

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    @@why nominet

    @@why nominet , yes exactly WHY is UK Gov so interested in Nominet. I think the answer

    to this is "you cannot sell something off that you do not own/control" , hence the UK Gov really

    does wish Nominet/UK internet to be Private BUT firstly it wants to nationalise it so that

    IT ,note "it" , can sell it off and make money. At end of day things are all about money or power or both.

    As for the Nominet executives like Dilbert and Cowley ,they are puppets ,puppets of the

    establishment, the gov whatever you like to call it, Did you see how Cowley was slagging off

    domainers in the article, and yet her Company says that the DRS is a "fair" system run

    by "impartial" party Nominet. Rubbish. I also think that within Nominet ,whether that

    be Dilbert ,COWley or some other muppet , is someone more than friendly to the

    UK Govt and "organisations" doing "their" thing !!.

    Thats my piece.

  56. Anonymous Coward


    the government can't run the NHS computer, why should we have to pour more £millions into the pocket of a luxury yacht owner's pal.

  57. RichyS
    Paris Hilton

    This is a bad idea

    Regardless of whether you think Nominet are currently doing a good job or not; what the feck does this have to do with the Government?

    The Internet does not belong to them, so they should leave well alone.

    Paris, 'cos she's a money grabbing huxter, just like Mandy.

  58. Jimmy

    Little Lord Fauntleroy

    Dear Mr Hendon

    By way of response I would like to inquire on behalf of the UK electorate what arguments your Minister can employ to justify his interference in the affairs of a private company, and in particular why an unelected (and unelectable) two-time loser like your Dark Master, considers himself competent to run anything more than a whelk stall.

    As your minister has recently been rather preoccupied with enjoying the hospitality of his billionaire Russian friend, perhaps it has escaped his attention that as a result of the neoThatcherite economic policies that he advocated we are suffering a global financial crisis.

    With regard to your concerns about government stakeholders, please be assured that they have been suitably arranged in a circle with their stakes pointed at the rotten heart of NuLabour and only await the arrival of the guys who are going to swing the sledge hammers

    Ciao, baby.

  59. ShaggyDoggy


































    and in case you still don't get it


  60. Anonymous Coward

    Credit crunch vs DNS

    What a ridiculous comparison to make! The UK economy is clearly much less complicated than a file of names and numbers....

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Light sabres at dawn.

    Inducements will be dangled, incentives will be provided, and poison will be dripped into receptive ears. The newly ennobled Lord Mandelson of Darkness will prevail. Woe unto the naysayers.

  62. Anonymous Coward

    BERR, BERR, we want more BERR

    All the lads are cheering

    Get the f**king BERR in...

  63. Robert M Jones
    Thumb Down

    Get your hands off my domain info please Lord Mandelson

    Oh for goodness sake - is there ANY information this government doesn't want to get its careless big hands on? You do not NEED to have this data, and given that you lose every single bit of data I ever entrust you with (today it was my HMRevenue and Customs login information) what on earth is the point of you getting information about the websites I run?

    Please - go away and do your IT homework. When you've learned how to look after the information you already have, then we can talk about whether you can be trusted with any more.

    NO NO NO NO Nominet for you DBERR.

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