back to article Behind the scenes of Slovaks' fight to liberate their .sk domain

The Slovak internet community is pressuring its government to block the sale of the country's .sk internet registry, asking for it to "be returned to the people of Slovakia." Having run the top-level domain (TLD) for over a decade, registry operator SK-NIC announced earlier this year that it was planning to sell .sk and was in …

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  1. Uberseehandel

    Entirely predictable behaviour

    Slovakia is one of the Visegrád group of nations.

    Sadly, such shenanigans have become commonplace in those states.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Entirely predictable behaviour

      What kind of shenanigans are you referring to in particular?

      Management of a country's domains is an aspect of sovereignty so it's important that, whoever is the actual registrar, is accountable to the electorate. The ex-Warsaw Pact countries have had very mixed experiences with the privatisation of their utilities.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Entirely predictable behaviour

        Indeed. At the moment Nominet are holding UK's ENUM entry hostage because BT doesn't want to compete with VoIP. They could do with a bit of accountability.

        1. Yes Me Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: Entirely predictable behaviour

          Wrong. They could do with a lot of accountability to the community.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Entirely predictable behaviour

        "Management of a country's domains is an aspect of sovereignty"

        Lol no. Its about on a par with a flag printed on a beach towel.

        To me the .co.uk TLD stirs up about as much national pride and patriotism as a gift shop selling plates with the royals on outside Windsor Castle. I.e. bugger all.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Entirely predictable behaviour

            > Once you become a .com you have a "presence" in the

            > US and may be subject to US law in some areas.

            LOL.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Entirely predictable behaviour

      > Slovakia is one of the Visegrád group of nations.

      > Sadly, such shenanigans have become commonplace in those states.

      That borders on the xenophobic. Perhaps you would care to clarify, lest you have been misunderstood?

      1. Uberseehandel

        Re: Entirely predictable behaviour

        I don't have to justify anything to somebody posting as an Anonymous Coward.

        My comment is not in the least xenophobic, unless being concerned about the erosion of individual rights, restriction of democratic rights, the growth of cronyism and the revision of history is defined as xenophobic.

        Ten minutes googling reliable sites will show you the extent of what is occurring.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Entirely predictable behaviour

          > I don't have to justify anything to somebody posting as an Anonymous Coward.

          You do not have to justify anything to anyone, other than yourself.

          > Ten minutes googling reliable sites will show you the extent of what is occurring.

          The thing, my dear chap, is that I do not need to google to see what goes on in Visegrád countries, since I have my own two eyes, ears, mouth, and brain.

          I wish people would stop trying to impose their caricatured impressions based on whatever they have read on the internet or watched on the six o'clock news. I find that most disappointing and arrogant. You are behaving in exactly the same manner as the person who says he doesn't want refugees because they are terrorists, for example. He has no idea what he is talking about and is just parroting whatever he may have heard on the news, hoping to sound sophisticated and in the firm and sincere belief that he is championing the right cause.

          If you want to be helpful, persuasion, tolerance, and leading by example go a much longer way than finger pointing and shallow accusations.

  2. Uffish

    Much ado about nothing?

    How hard would it be to manage a country-code top-level domain registry according to best current practice? Not very I think (speaking with all the assurance of complete ignorance of the matter).

    Sure, there are bound to be perfectly good companies around the world who could give good value for not much money, but think of the benefits of keeping it 'in country'. You (the government) get to set up a Quango with a few career bureaucrats to do the job and a few non-essential seats to fill with those people you are somewhat obliged to. Additionally, it will be popular and if ever a difficult case comes up you (the government) are better placed to avoid nasty incidents.

    That would be the traditional way of doing things - what benefits does farming work out to the lowest international bidder bring? This uninformed mind would like to know.

    1. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: Much ado about nothing?

      Actually, running a secure and highly scaleable registry is not trivial, and outsourcing the mechanics of it to a specialist company seems like a sensible idea for a smaller country. But outsourcing the sovereign rights and policy decisions, not to mention the profits, seems stupid. Unlike Kieren, I think that setting up a local non-profit is by far the best next step - even if in the end the actual work is outsourced.

      1. kierenmccarthy

        Re: Much ado about nothing?

        You make a fair point re: outsourcing policies and profits.

        Clearly by pushing back on the claims being made without pointing out some of the disadvantages of outsourcing, the article seems slanted. That wasn't the intent: the intent was to highlight that what looks like a coordinated campaign is not what it seems.

        In theory, a local non-profit could do just as good a job. Although the reality of the registry market is that they don't and instead tend to get bogged down in politics and stuck with outdated systems.

        The reason I came down perhaps a bit too hard on the proposal here is that some of the claims didn't make sense - until that is I discovered that some of the people pushing the idea stand to gain both financially and politically.

        That in itself it probably a good enough reason to suspect that if this proposal for a new body were to go ahead, it would not have internet users' best interests at heart.

        Kieren

  3. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Not the only ones

    I entirely sympathise - the .cymru and .wales TLDs are managed by a foreign company (Nominet) based in - gasp - England! And we have to pay for them in English pounds, not a couple of pounds of leeks and a leg of nice spring lamb. Disgusting!

  4. JimC

    Dulled innovation at the registry?

    Sounds like everything that has gone wrong with domain management... But I'm the sort of dinosaur who thought the system we had before domain registries was best - you demonstrated a need for one domain to your domain admin, who allocated you one. Commercial registries and the resultant cybersquatting was the start of a whole host of evils...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dulled innovation at the registry?

      "innovation" = Neoliberal theft of public property, then renting it back to people using a subscription business model. Giving people less for more.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. Yes Me Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: The radical left do not understand sovereignty!

          Good one. Might even suck in some upvotes. Thanks for the laugh.

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Dulled innovation at the registry?

      Good old days was very well, but I remember buying my first co.uk domain, probably around 1997, and I think I paid something like £75 for it, possibly for two years.

      There is a strong case for national domains to require a clear connection to the country though. Why on earth do I shorten my URLs via Libya?

      1. the hatter

        Re: Dulled innovation at the registry?

        > Why on earth do I shorten my URLs via Libya?

        Ironically, the .ly domain was being managed for a long while by some folk doing a decent enough job of it, with some local affiliations, before some political schmoozers realised there was money to be made and convinced someone in the government to let them swoop in and take it over.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the main claim that the Slovakian top-level domain was "stolen" from a university and given to telco company by government officials doesn't hold much water.

    Except there was no refutation of this claim in the article, only prior examples of the same "theft" occurring in other nations.

    Just because some other guy got away with it, doesn't mean you're not guilty.

    1. Yes Me Silver badge
      Headmaster

      "stolen" domain

      It's alternative history. Yes, in many countries the original country-code registrar was some geek in some university. Why? Because the university was one of the first Internet-connected sites in the country, and the said geek offered to register a few names in his (rarely her) own time. And in most countries, either the universities themselves got together some years later to get a bit better organised, or some government department (SERC in the UK) prompted the organisation. In some countries with strong PTT monopolies, the government department concerned was the PTT or the telecomms ministry.

      In almost all cases the geek was greatly relieved when this happened. Theft was not involved and sovereignty was never an issue. All of this happened long before ICANN existed; when arbitration was needed, it was usually done by Jon Postel personally.

  6. Snorlax Silver badge

    Common practice?

    "And the concerns about making .sk domains available outside Slovakia? It has become common practice for country-code top-level domains to be opened up to anyone worldwide interested in a specific ending. "

    Try registering a .ie domain if you can't demonstrate a connection to Ireland - not going to happen...

    This arsehole-ery goes on in a lot of countries, not just former communist states in central Europe.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Common practice?

      It's more common that not that local restrictions apply.

      .ca Canada

      .jp Japan

      .eu Europe

      .de Germany

      .br Brazil

      Various island nations, Bermuda, the west Indies.

      Many African nations, eg Guinea, Cameroon

      All require either residency or local business connections.

      1. P.Brimacombe

        Re: Common practice?

        it's more common than not

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Common practice?

      Try registering a .ie domain if you can't demonstrate a connection to Ireland

      Or indeed a .scot domain unless it is "beneficial to the cause and the values of the .scot community" and you can demonstrate a "community nexus" based on "language, culture, tourism and business".

      Post-Brexit, it will be interesting to see if Nominet will be required to secure an oath of loyalty before issuing .uk domains, or will similarly be sold off to the highest bidder.

      1. K

        Re: Common practice?

        Nominet is a profit-making-not-for-profit organisation, with deep pockets and jealous sense of self preservation..

        Of course its going to sell them love domains to the highest bidder..

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Common practice?

      > This arsehole-ery goes on in a lot of countries, not just former communist states in central Europe.

      More to the point, the sponsors of the petition have not given any indications that they would like this situation to persist.

      On the contrary, seeing who are involved, some of their comments such as complaining about SK-NIC not having an English version of their site, and simple commercial considerations, I expect them to want to move to a model like that of CZ-NIC. The conditions for .cz domains are that the domain you want is not already taken, that you fill in the form correctly, and that you pay the relevant fee. They don't care if you are from Prague's Vinohrady district or from Togo.

      NB: I expect CZ-NIC wants to get involved in the running of SK-NIC in some way or another. No objections to that from me, the guys from CZ-NIC are impressively active and open. Also, they keep an eye out for shenanigans.

    4. Nick Kew

      Good Nationalism, Bad Nationalism

      Try registering a .ie domain if you can't demonstrate a connection to Ireland - not going to happen...

      Looks like Good Nationalism to me. Assert a national identity without doing harm to anyone, or conjuring up an enemy to hate, resent, or look down on.

      The contrast is Bad Nationalism: that which creates an "us and them" situation, and with it resentment and hatred. We could all point to instances where that has led to Bad Things - like mass slaughter of the innocent in extreme cases - and argue over whose fault they were.

      I think there's a good case that Good Nationalism can present a safety valve against a buildup of Bad Nationalism. From the article, I'd guess these Slovakian folk contain the seeds of both, and could go either way. Put-downs from foreigners like El Reg might just tend to nurture the Bad form.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good Nationalism, Bad Nationalism

        > From the article, I'd guess

        The problem, Nick, is that the article is incredibly misleading, biased, and untruthful. I am sorry to say this, but either the author has made a huge mistake or he is being dishonest. I hope he will come forward and clear this up.

        To be clear the petition, which can be read here: https://www.nasadomena.sk/ contains no nationalistic overtones. The petition is in Slovak, but I checked the Google translation and it does not alter significantly its tone or substance.

        Slovak government and society may have a lot to answer for, and some of their views (e.g., humanitarian assistance or ethnic and gender discrimination) are not in line with modern values, but this case has got nothing to do with that. I would say the contrary is more likely.

        1. kierenmccarthy

          Re: Good Nationalism, Bad Nationalism

          This is a strawman argument. The article does not get into nationalism.

          The article was written because there is increasing noise about .sk and the campaign behind it makes lots of claims that are disingenuous. So I dug into it - and found that those arguing for this change may have ulterior motives behind their proposal.

          Clearly I should have spent more time talking about changes in the registry market and the pluses and minuses of outsourcing TLD management. But that doesn't alter the fact that your response here is wildly off mark.

          Kieren

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Common practice?

      This arsehole-ery goes on in a lot of countries, not just former communist states in central Europe."

      I agree, country TLDs should be only for companies/orgs with a presence in that country. On the other hand, we have places like Tuvalu (.tv) who depend heavily on the foreign currency income generated by selling .tv domains to anyone prepared to pay.

    6. I am the liquor

      Re: Common practice?

      It's true that a lot of country-code registries actively promote sales for sites with no connection to their region, especially if they're lucky enough to have a "cool" CCTLD that can easily be used to form words. But I'm not convinced the internet as a whole really benefits from the proliferation of domains like trashbat.co.ck.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You seem to have...

    ...an idiotic Cloudflare captcha popping up on your fucking forums.

    I wouldn't mind so much if it wasn't a Google captcha specifically.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You seem to have...

      "Cloudflare captcha popping up"

      Do you mean on El Reg? I've never seen a captcha here. I feel left out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You seem to have...

        > Do you mean on El Reg?

        Yes, of course.

        > I've never seen a captcha here. I feel left out.

        Try posting via Tor and you shall not feel left out.

        It also happens at other seemingly random times, probably some sort of spam detection.

        Which is all very reasonable, of course, except the part where they use a Google captcha. Especially if you're coming from Tor.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: You seem to have...

          "It also happens at other seemingly random times, probably some sort of spam detection."

          It happened to me back on the discussion of brickerbot. I eventually came to the conclusion that it was triggered by my mentioning some of the contents of the script. I could only post a very bowdlerised version of my original.

          It wasn't helped by the fact that, having entered the captcha the comment was cleared and trying to repost just brought up a fresh captcha.

          Cloudflare captchas are obnoxious.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You seem to have...

        I have never had a captcha for El Reg. But I usually get a page telling me that Cloudflare is cracking my browser. Then it sends me on to El Reg.

        That's fine.

        Except for one thing. Just what is it slurping whilst it does this "checking". Can anyone enlighten me please?

        Cheers… Ishy

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: You seem to have...

      Not had one on El Reg, but Fasthosts (who I use for domain registration) have just started some idiotic 'click on the cars' captcha when trying to login. When I complain they say they can't remove it, but don't worry, it will 'learn' my IP address over time and reduce the number of clicks required. How does it learn my IP when I use multiple VPNs?

      Fasthosts just said goodbye to about £1500/year in registration fees. A curious way of doing business. What happened to 'the customer is always right'? Can anyone recommend a good alternative?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You seem to have...

        > Can anyone recommend a good alternative?

        Definitely, Gandi.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You seem to have...

      I think the stupid captcha is triggered by long posts. Oh well, long live the Twatter generation and five second attention spans :-(

      Incidentally: I was asked "Please select all the squares with pants", but there weren't any, only trousers.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Kieren, is this article serious?

    I have difficulty reconciling some of the claims in this article with what the petition in question (https://www.nasadomena.sk/) demands and with the background story as told by an employee of a Czech entity¹ that provides connectivity services to Czech universities and the like.

    Specifically:

    "However when the news broke that a foreign company was looking to buy the .sk registry, protests were launched claiming, among other things, that the registry had been "stolen" and was now being sold off for profit to a foreign company."

    The full story is explained, in English, at the link just given. Taking things at face value (and I find the story credible), the current situation is the result of crass fraud.

    "A number of talks and blog posts have also emerged"

    Such as? Any of them expressing an official view of those behind the petition? I mean, anyone can write a blog post with whatever claims about whatever cause.

    "Those efforts criticize any move away from the current (outdated) registration system, named FRED, any effort to open up registration of .sk domains to people living outside Slovakia, and are increasingly critical of a small number of government officials that seemingly approve of and are pushing the sale."

    Those efforts? Whose efforts? Because neither the petition nor the Czech article (which has been "retweeted" by one of the promoters of the petition, and is based on a talk by another promoter) mention any of that. In fact, one of their complaints is the difficulty and cost, under the current system, for foreigners to register an .sk domain. One provider that I have quickly checked quotes €47 per year and requires a corporate subscription, meaning that there is actual paper shuffling involved in the process. But that is expected since, I quote the Czech guy: "the registration system also does not have any API".

    What appears to be the bone of contention here is the attempt at selling the .sk registrar to that specific company, Centralnic, which the Czech article alleges are less than reputable. To be fair, a quick look at their website does not make me want to do business with them.

    "And if those last few complaints seem unusually industry specific and political, that's because of who is behind the campaign"

    Kieren, I think you would need to give specific evidence of "those last few complaints", because if you are referring to the allegations with xenophobic overtones that you have mentioned, I do not see them reflected neither in the petition nor in its immediate background. For the record, I do speak reasonable Czech so I can understand a fair deal of Slovak without using a translator (Slovak sounds like Czech spoken by a Moravian farmer with a speech impediment²).

    "As for squaring complaints about the .sk registration systems being out of date with insisting that the old FRED registration system be retained: that is almost certainly because it would cost those companies time and money to shift to a new registration system."

    What is wrong specifically with FRED and what do you mean by "old"? It is actively maintained and used and, having registered .cz domains, it has never given me any trouble. In other words, if it's not broken don't fix it. Of course, we could all do an NHS and spend millions quite unnecessarily on shiny stuff that doesn't actually work.

    If I may have a try at "squaring those complaints", they refer to the draconian processes in place for managing .sk domains, such as having to visit a notary for a domain change, and to the lack of a modern interface to allow convenient registration (an API, as already mentioned). To boot, another criticism of the current registrar is the absence of an English version of their website.

    "However, if Slovakia's market is opened up and the registration system is moved to an industry standard, it means that large global domain registrars – like GoDaddy, for example - will bring serious competition overnight."

    What?

    "In addition, the main claim that the Slovakian top-level domain was "stolen" from a university and given to telco company by government officials doesn't hold much water."

    It is well documented.

    "It was extremely common in the early days of the internet for country-code top-level domains to be run by universities and then, as demand grew and national governments became interested, most countries moved to a model exactly like SK-NIC's: a new non-profit run by a company with technical expertise and with a board structure that included government, business and internet community voices."

    I think you missed the one step in between where the guys who stole (not "stole") the registrar sold it to a company in the US, which run the thing (for profit) for a couple of years until someone noticed and forced them to form an association with the Slovak government and a local telecoms. The US company that fraudulently acquired the registrar in 2002 has two of the seats on the board of this association, effectively holding veto power over any decisions to terminate the agreement.

    "The exact same approach was introduced in the UK and .uk domain names with Nominet."

    I do not know if it is the exact same approach, but I would hardly hold Nominet as an example to admire, based on my experience. Notably their approach to privacy leaves to be desired.

    "In that respect, a shift to Centralnic would actually make a lot of sense for Slovakian internet users."

    No, Kieren. What would make a lot of sense for users of the .sk domain (Slovaks or otherwise) is to tackle the problems with the current association, where one of the parties (US-based Euroweb, which you incorrectly refer to as SK-NIC) is holding the others hostage.

    The decision to offer a country TLD to a private investor without any sort of public discussion or debate, let alone a proper tender, is not the sort of thing that one would expect to benefit the local economy (for those who want an .sk address to target the Slovak market) nor private persons (for whom access to an internet domain is an exercise of their freedom of expression).

    To boot, the chosen private investor does not appear to have the highest of reputations.

    So I have to ask you Kieren, did you make an honest mistake and got the wrong end of the stick, or has your article been sponsored by a third party? I look forward to a follow-up article in which you interview the main parties involved, including the current SK-NIC and the guys running the petition.

    ¹ *Those* guys look a bit shady!

    ² Just kidding.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Kieren, is this article serious?

      A few points:

      1. There was no daylight robbery, nothing was stolen. .SK from the day of its creation was managed by EUNET. Emails with .SK application and INTERNIC's approval were published in the past and they are available. Even SANET confirms this on its own history page. It says that they (SANET and EUNET) agreed that EUNET would manage .SK. Current manager SK-NIC is the descendant of EUNET, you can be verified it by checking public records in Slovak bussiness registry.

      2. Petition was initiated by few registrars (less then 10). .SK is very open registry with THOUSANDS of registrars. Petition is part of long time political campaign of guy called Truban who portraits himself as messiah. He is very anti-system and yet call for nationalization of the registry.

      3. This is Europe. SK-NIC is based in Slovakia, answers to EU and SK law and authorities. What is wrong with the company owned by foreign nationals or companies?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Kieren, is this article serious?

        Hello!

        > There was no daylight robbery, nothing was stolen. .SK from the day of its creation was managed by EUNET.

        Do you mean "EUnet Slovakia s.r.o." (not to be confused with the original EUnet)?

        > Emails with .SK application and INTERNIC's approval were published in the past and they are available.

        Any idea where?

        > Even SANET confirms this on its own history page. It says that they (SANET and EUNET) agreed that EUNET would manage .SK.

        According to the guys behind the petition, this is where things went astray: it appears that the people who were managing the thing on behalf of the university decided to remove any mention of the university from the records which, in the absence of agreement from the university, would have been fraud. This is consistent so far with what the petition page explains here: https://www.nasadomena.sk/historia/.

        > Current manager SK-NIC is the descendant of EUNET, you can be verified it by checking public records in Slovak bussiness registry.

        Yep. I see that they merged EUnet Slovakia s.r.o.¹ with EuroWeb Slovakia a.s.² in December 1999. EuroWeb Slovakia a.s. then changed its name to SK-NIC a.s. in February 2006.

        What I do find intriguing, btw, is that the chairman of EuroWeb aka SK-NIC, Mr Juraj Ondriš is also on the board of DanubiaTel a.s.. Not that there is anything wrong with that, a priori, but curious nonetheless.

        > Petition was initiated by few registrars (less then 10). .SK is very open registry with THOUSANDS of registrars.

        I apologise, but do you mean registrants? The registrar (cs: registrátor) is responsible for registering something. The registrant is someone asking for something to be registered. There is only one registrar for .sk and as of this writing 361,942 registered domains (unknown number of registrants) which, actually, does not compare too well with the neighbours' 1,296,387 (population of the Czech Republic is about twice that of Slovakia, per capita GDP only slightly higher), which by the way also supports DNSSEC, unless the .sk TLD.

        > Petition is part of long time political campaign of guy called Truban

        Would that be Michal Truban, the guy who runs a web hosting company, and indeed runs some sort of anti-corruption campaign? Mind, that's the full extent of my familiarity with him.

        > He is very anti-system and yet call for nationalization of the registry.

        I did actually failed to spot where the petition calls for the registry to be nationalised. I think they only want the government and the "community"³ to have a say over it, and I did not see opposition to the technical aspects of running it being delegated to a private, and possibly foreign, entity. However, I will say that I have only taken a cursory look at this issue, prompted by a habit of always checking sources for what I read on the news.

        > This is Europe. SK-NIC is based in Slovakia, answers to EU and SK law and authorities.

        You are correct: the registrar is bound by the law and accountable to the authorities. Still, if customers are not happy, they have a right to make their views known.

        > What is wrong with the company owned by foreign nationals or companies?

        Absolutely nothing!

        Thank you for chipping in from, I presume, Slovakia.

        ¹ s.r.o. is a private limited company (Ltd)

        ² a.s. is a public limited company (Plc)

        ³ It is not clear what the "community" is. I take it to be those having registered an .sk domain? Clarification would be useful.

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: anonymous

      Thanks for the feedback - suffice to say, this article isn't sponsored by any party. Just our take on the matter. I've passed it onto Kieren.

      C.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: anonymous

        > Thanks for the feedback - suffice to say, this article isn't sponsored by any party.

        No problems. I do not really believe it was sponsored, that was a strong choice of words, just that it does come out as overly unbalanced.

        > Just our take on the matter. I've passed it onto Kieren.

        Many thanks. I do look forward to a follow-up.

    3. kierenmccarthy

      Re: Kieren, is this article serious?

      There's a lot here, so briefly:

      * You imply there aren't articles and blog posts about this. But there are. Which is why I wrote that. Examples:

      http://www.teraz.sk/slovensko/pellegrini-by-nemal-podpisat-zmluvu-s/268209-clanok.html

      http://www.zive.sk/clanok/126170/odstavte-sk-nic-od-domeny-ziadaju-pellegriniho-netusite-ake-presadim-zmeny-odkazuje

      http://www.dobrenoviny.sk/c/104744/pellegrini-by-nemal-podpisat-zmluvu-s-doterajsim-spravcom-domeny-sk

      https://www.root.cz/clanky/pribeh-domeny-sk-aneb-kradez-za-bileho-dne/

      http://www.tvnoviny.sk/ekonomika/1876603_na-registrovani-webstranok-zaraba-na-ukor-statnej-pokladnice-sukromna-firma

      * You appearing to be arguing that there isn't some sort of coordinated campaign behind there. Which is odd - because the petition and the Medium post and a recent talk and a letter to the government is exactly what a coordinated campaign looks like.

      * You dismiss Centralnic - a publicly listed registry organization - because "a quick look at their website does not make me want to do business with them." I can't imagine a weaker argument.

      * You say the "theft" of .sk is "well documented". If by well-documented you mean there are documents, you are right. There are. And they show that the process of shifting from a university to a professional body was done according to the rules. People may not like the end result but that is very different to claims of theft.

      * Re: Nominet. You don't need to tell me about the problems with Nominet - I have covered them extensively for years. But the point was not that Nominet is great but that creating a new organization to take over a growing registry was very common a decade ago. I used Nominet as this is a UK publication. I could have just as easily have referenced a huge number of other TLDs - perhaps a should have. But your response demonstrates that you are primarily interested in attacking the article rather than making a coherent argument.

      * You do make one excellent point: transparency and accountability. This process should be done in public. SK-NIC should run a public tender process. The arguments should be had in public with public meetings.

      Now if the campaign was pushing for that, this would have been a very different article. As it was the campaign claims .sk was stolen and tries to force choices onto the process, and attacks everyone involved - including criticizing the company looking to take over. That's why this article took a critical look at what was going on behind the scenes.

      Kieren

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Kieren, is this article serious?

        Hello Kieren,

        Many thanks for addressing some of the concerns with your article.

        > * You imply there aren't articles and blog posts about this.

        I am afraid you have misinterpreted. If you are referring to this: 'I think you would need to give specific evidence of "those last few complaints"', I am not implying anything (I rarely imply things, unless in a humorous context), I was asking to see examples of those complaints.

        More specifically, I would be interested to see an example of opposition to "any effort to open up registration of .sk domains to people living outside Slovakia", to see if that is a demand officially (or even unofficially) endorsed by the promoters of the petition.

        > But there are. Which is why I wrote that. Examples:

        I expect you already know this, but the links that you have given are to various Slovak and Czech news sites. Those are not blogs (by which I mean a site controlled by an individual or small group, usually as a platform to express and communicate their views on whatever topics they find of interest). Judging by their close publication dates (all published between 30 June and 1 July) they seem to originate from a single news source, possibly TASR (the Slovak news agency), which two of the sites credit. The Czech site (root.cz) is the Czech language version of the blog article that I linked here a few days ago, and TV News appear to have done their own bit of research. Neither of those contain a claim that the domain should not be opened to foreigners.

        > * You appearing to be arguing that there isn't some sort of coordinated campaign behind there.

        Negative. Why would I argue that there isn't a coordinated campaign when they even have a website and nearly 10,000 signatures, as you have reported?

        > * You dismiss Centralnic

        I do not "dismiss Centralnic". I do argue that the claim by this article is credible. For example, the assertion that Centralnic market the .LA domain as a domain for the city of Los Angeles, or .PW as having nothing to do with Palau, is true.

        From a purely personal point of view, I find that sort of marketing unprofessional, and I would not want .sk (or any other community-specific domain) to be hijacked or misused that way. Look at this: https://www.la/ (Slashdot here: https://slashdot.org/story/03/06/13/0126225/los-angeles-gets-own-tld). Perhaps the government and the people of Laos are OK with that, and that's fine. But surely the government and the people of Slovakia have a right to express their views on how their domain should be used or misused?

        > * You say the "theft" of .sk is "well documented". If by well-documented you mean there are documents, you are right. There are. And they show that the process of shifting from a university to a professional body was done according to the rules.

        It would be helpful if you could post a link to those rules. In particular, an agreement to make those changes should no doubt be in possession of the university, if the process was done diligently. Perhaps as a journalist you could approach the university (or SANET) and ask for a copy of that evidence, if you haven't already done so?

        What do you think of this: « Then, in 1999, they asked ICANN to do a minor adjustment of the delegation — delete “Comenius University” and add “s. r. o.” after “EUnet Slovakia.” »? That "minor adjustment" has indeed occurred and the dates correlate with relevant corporate changes of this "EUNet Slovakia" entity, which I have posted in a previous reply.

        > * Re: Nominet. You don't need to tell me about the problems with Nominet - I have covered them extensively for years.

        Good, in which case we will put it down to an unfortunate choice of example. :-)

        > * You do make one excellent point: transparency and accountability. This process should be done in public. SK-NIC should run a public tender process.

        Kieren, SK-NIC, or more precisely: SK-NIC, a.s. *are* the company which used to be known EuroWeb Slovakia, which at that point in 1999 merged with "EUnet Slovakia s.r.o.", and which apparently is controlled by DanubeTel. As another poster mentioned and I expanded on, all of this is a matter of public record. They are the ones who are being accused by the Naša doména campaign of incompetence and lack of innovation, which is why the campaign have appealed to Minister Pellegrini to intervene, as reported in the news articles that you have linked here.

        To make it clear: SK-NIC is a regular profit-making Plc in private hands. It is not a non-profit, as you claim in your article (the company objectives are in the link to the Slovak register of companies, provided above). Their public accountability, if any, would be determined by the content of the agreement signed in 2006 by Minister Prokopovič, as the Czech article reports.

        I still feel that your article has been very poorly researched and you have not provided any evidence to support the main claims in your article. Notably:

        * that "Those efforts criticize [...] any effort to open up registration of .sk domains to people living outside Slovakia", "[...] concerns about making .sk domains available outside Slovakia";

        * that FRED is an outdated registration system: "the current (outdated) registration system, named FRED";

        * that the campaign "appears to be arguing against the introduction of an updated and less expensive system for registering .sk domains"¹

        I think that it would be in the interests of good journalism and the reputation of El Reg if a follow-up article was published with a better-sourced analysis. To clarify: I do not argue against your opinions--I do take issue with the quality of the research in this article, even after making allowance for the fact that most of the sources are probably in a language in which you may not be fully conversant.

        In any event, I sincerely appreciate that you have stepped forward to address some of these concerns.

        Lastly, I would like to apologise for the accusation of dishonesty that I levelled against you on one of my posts. I feel that was unwarranted.

        ¹ Their website says: "Vybojovali sme si nové pravidlá a lepšie ceny" (We demand new rules and better prices) and "Sme presvedčení, že .SK doména môže byť ešte lacnejšia a podnikanie na internete jednoduchšie." (We are convinced that .sk domains can be even cheaper and more straightforward [to acquire by] internet businesses). This is the exact opposite of your claim!

        1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: Re: Kieren, is this article serious?

          I think we're gonna have to agree to disagree: there's clearly a clash of views.

          If there are specific sentences in the story you disagree with, email them to me (with a brief explanation why you disagree with them) – cwilliams at theregister dawt com – and I'll take a look.

          C.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Kieren, is this article serious?

            > If there are specific sentences in the story you disagree with, email them to me (with a brief explanation why you disagree with them)

            Thanks for the offer. I took you up on that.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    well if they do sell it...

    it will join all the other 'sold' TLDs in my email spamblock

    .bid

    .offer

    .info

    .web

    .....

    ...oh I just looked. Its already IN the list.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: well if they do sell it...

      Interesting how a simple statement of fact attracts three thumbs down.

      What's wrong with facts?

      1. J. R. Hartley

        The title is no longer required

        First rule of downvotes is that we don't talk about downvotes.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: well if they do sell it...

        > Interesting how a simple statement of fact attracts three thumbs down.

        Just taking a guess here, FWIW:

        1. Blocking TLDs is a rather curious email spam fighting tool.

        2. Since the .sk domain holds a relatively insignificant number of registrations, and given the slow, expensive, and painful process involved, it would seem rather unattractive to spammers, so blocking it may actually be counterproductive.

        So I do not think you have been downvoted because of a statement of facts, but because of what those facts imply about your spam fighting abilities. Just guessing though. HTH.

  10. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Was this rewritten from a press release by Centralnic?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So many AC trolls

    Who would guess that an article about Slovakia's domain name registration system on an English-language news site would attract so much disinterested comment from ACs? Or perhaps there's a less charitable explanation?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So many AC trolls

      > Who would guess that an article about Slovakia's domain name registration system on an English-language news site would attract so much disinterested comment from ACs?

      So what is your specific problem with the *content* of the criticism to this article?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: So many AC trolls

      Any thread here contains a number of AC posts and I'm not sure troll applies to them here. On the whole they seem informed and informative.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Most countries moved to a model exactly like SK-NIC

    "It was extremely common in the early days of the internet for country-code top-level domains to be run by universities and then, as demand grew and national governments became interested, most countries moved to a model exactly like SK-NIC's"

    There was nothing wrong with country-code domain name registeries that needed fixing ..

    ".sk has not been subject to market forces, it has also dulled innovation at the registry" ..

    Yet more marketing waffle .. steal something that belongs to the people and sell it back to them ...

  13. John Savard Silver badge

    Remember Tuvalu

    I think it's entirely understandable that the people of Slovakia don't want to see the .sk domain ending up like the .tv domain - owned by a private company that sells domains within it at high prices to people who want to make web sites related to television or providing streaming video. They want to be sure that they can, at reasonable prices, register their own sites ending in "sk" just like people in Britain can do so with sites ending in "uk" or people in Canada can do so with sites ending in "ca".

    It's not at all clear to me from the article if their worries are justified, or if the controversy is due to a false campaign of hysteria aimed at an updated system of domain registration that is essentially the same as what we have now in Canada or the United Kingdom since the Internet became too big to be an academic preserve. The article takes the latter position, but I didn't see enough of the crucial facts in it to tell if its conclusions are valid.

    Because of that, I'm left with the impression - which may be unfair and mistaken - that the article was put together in a rush to support a particular pro-free-enterprise ideological world view. If you want to win converts, if you want to be respected as a trustworthy source, you have to do a more thorough job of assembling and presenting your facts.

    1. kierenmccarthy

      Re: Remember Tuvalu

      There was no rush and there was no intent to support any particular view.

      What happened was that there was an increasing amount of noise about the .sk domain and its possible transfer so I decided to dig into what as going on.

      Quite a few of the claims - about .sk being stolen, about the system being outdated but still wanting to keep it, attacking politicians - didn't make sense. Except they did when you consider that the people behind the campaign are .sk registrars who are also part of a new political movement. So the article attempted to walk through that.

      Perhaps I should have included more information about other ccTLDs and how the IANA process works. And how the registry market has expanded with gTLDs. But broadly, the article covers some claims about the .sk registry that are being pushed quite heavily and points out that there is something else going on behind the scenes.

      Kieren

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cross-border domain shopping

    I tried to get a .be domain name because memorable, but when my 10-year signup resulted in a one-year hold and potential ransom for the 2nd (and subsequent) year(s) (you never know, eh?), I reluctantly switched to .space But I found the bait-and-switch experience traumatic and have barely upgraded the site since the initial foray. No hard-nosed web entrepreneur here.

    I wonder if TLD's should be re-entrant. For example, a porn site nsfw.sk.cx Hmm, I guess you could create that (and sk.cx for that matter) without changing the way domain names work. The highest compliment you could pay this comment is not to upvote it, but to grab sk.cx That didn't come out right, did it? For fun and profit. IANAI BIPOOTI

    1. J. R. Hartley

      Re: Cross-border domain shopping

      What?

  15. Bob Hoskins
    Trollface

    Haven't the Baltic states got more to worry about than this?

    Russia's about to invade and all.

  16. Dark_Ronius

    There seems to be a holier-than-thou bias in this article, which ironically makes the argument that sovereignty and ownership of the TLD shouldn't even be discussed because of the efficiency of market forces; it seems to imply it is silly for the country's people or government to question what the best method of ownership may be, as a free-market approach is automatically the best so they should shut up and do it by default as it is most efficient. Which sounds, ironically, rather communist.

    Arguments against a non-profit taking control seem to revolve around undermining the sincerity of the non-profit argument (look, they have ulterior motives) rather than looking at the positives of such an ownership model compared to the positives of selling the registry off. instead we get a flat "non-profit is bad, look people are doing it for political reasons" whilst singing the praises of how efficient the alternative is. It's no kind of fair comparison at all. Nor does it take into account, y'know, it's the choice of Slovakians; their government at the least, which we would hope are run on behalf of the people that elect them.

    This seems to fall from the usual standard of El Reg articles. Even saying it is a comment article doesn't seem an excuse; even these usually attempt some reasoned debate before the author states his/her opinion. This, however, makes far too many assumptions that almost imply anyone who questions them should be undermined and labelled heretics.

    1. kierenmccarthy

      There was no intent to be holier-than-thou. Just pointing out that what is being claimed may not be what it seems.

      It's clear from a number of comments that I should have included more real-world details of other ccTLDs and some background on how the registry market has changed as a way of supporting the counter-arguments.

      That said, you are reading a lot into the article that isn't there.

      Kieren

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > It's clear from a number of comments that I should have included more real-world details of other ccTLDs and some background on how the registry market has changed

        In my opinion, part of the criticism (other than mine) stems from claims of protectionist demands which are not supported by evidence. In that respect, more detail about the Slovak case would have been perhaps more helpful. Unless your goal was to write a piece on the registry market in general, in which case picking on the Slovak example was perhaps unfortunate.

        Did you use Google Translate or similar to research this article? If so, did you run things through a Slovak speaker? Please note that Google Translate is pretty poor at translating Slavic languages--for example it has a perverse tendency to turn negatives into positives and vice-versa.

        Btw, I think it is quite fair to expect that the guys who are affected the most by it (Slovak internet entrepreneurs) should be the first to complain about the poor performance of their registry. I also believe that one cannot put .sk in the same bucket as TLDs such as .tv, .cc, .io, etc., in that those have very small user communities when used as ccTLDs proper, and the respective territories do not have, to my knowledge, much of an autochthonous internet industry.

  17. sebt
    Thumb Up

    Holier than thou

    ... is typical of free-market fundamentalism. Which, as you say, is as anti-realist a cult as communism.

    "instead we get a flat "non-profit is bad, look people are doing it for political reasons" whilst singing the praises of how efficient the alternative is."

    That special use of "political" is another typical move. Anything other than privatising everything that isn't nailed down, and a good deal of what is, is supposedly "political" in a bad sense. But privatising everything is somehow pure and above mere "politics".

    1. kierenmccarthy

      Re: Holier than thou

      This is getting a little conspiratorial.

      The reality with internet registries is that it is a technical job and that people that run a lot of them tend to do much better at it. They can use the same systems and the same standards and the same protocols and the same servers and roll out a new TLD - .sk in this case - relatively easily.

      On the other hand, creating a whole new entity that from day one is financially reliant on registrars (rather than registrants) and which has to continue to run an already outdated system is going to be less effective.

      It's a little bit like a company outsourcing its IT infrastructure and insisting that the new contractor continue to run Novell's NetWare because that's what is in place, rather than shift to Windows or Linux.

      The reason the article gets into the political issue is that some of the claims being made simply didn't make sense. Until you consider the political and business side - then they make sense.

      KIeren

      1. paulosv

        Re: Holier than thou

        This is a political issue, yes. But quite the contrary to what you wrote, Kieren. Some people are pulling strings in favor of the current company and they were lobbying in several succeeding governments of Slovakia. Besides, there are some factually incorrect claims in the article. Which, as you correctly said, make no sense, but without them, you would probably come to a different conclusion. I seriously hope it was just an inaccurate translation from Slovak or Czech language.

        - SK-NIC/EUnet/Euroweb is - and always has been - a for-profit organization, now with single shareholder, DanubiaTel. In accordance to the contract, they were only supposed to give 5 % of the revenue to modernization. The rest is theirs, plus they were also providing loans to other companies. That's not non-profit, which the article implied.

        - The .sk domain committee, which was defined in 2006, did not meet until autumn of 2010.

        - The initiative NasaDomena.sk does not criticize move away from the current system. They actually support the move. The current system has no API and requires registrars to “click through” web forms to register a domain, and also send a paper form through a post office. Using something like FRED would be a huge help for them.

        - SK-NIC does not use FRED. FRED is not outdated, btw. Latest version is from March 2017. It is developed by the Czechs who have one of the most progressive domain holders - CZ.NIC. From what I know, FRED is a well-done piece of OSS. See https://fred.nic.cz

        - They don’t criticize opening registration to people outside .sk. Today a foreigner can't register .sk without proxy-registrar, and that's what they want to change. NasaDomena.sk is not even talking about that, but the Medium article (https://medium.com/@Oskar456/stolen-sk-domain-717e070f6735) does mention it.

        - The ownership change in 1999 was not by the rules. The changes in the domain ownership info were so subtle (e.g. adding “s.r.o.” = Incorporated - and removing Comenian University from the address, but leaving the rest intact) that the ICANN thought it’s still the same subject. But it was not, and the university had no idea at the time. Through ownership changes and strong political play, the same company remained in charge of the domain until now, even though an association was created who was supposed to be responsible for the domain, and even had a transition plan ready (to FRED). The association's website is still active - http://domeny.six.sk/

        - The reason I wouldn't want CentralNIC to operate the domain is that we have a good example in CZ.NIC, a non-profit which is operating .cz domain, doing a very good job so far. .SK domain has to transition to a new system anyway, and CZ.NIC have a great deal of experience; plus, FRED by CZ.NIC is used by domain registries worldwide.

        By the way, CZ.NIC also wanted to buy the .sk domain from SK-NIC. As I've heard, the negotiations did not go very far.

        - The ownership of .SK domain by a private company has been criticized before, mainly for being inactive, not solving issues with the domain, and having shady finances. It really is nothing new.

        Some analysis of the situation in 2010 (mainly concerning the contract with government and the financial reports of SK-NIC):

        http://turek.co/post/44061879134/sk-nic-analýza

        http://turek.co/post/44064215842/sk-nic-náš-každodenný

        Something from 2012:

        http://dennik.hnonline.sk/ekonomika-a-firmy/492762-na-domenach-u-nas-zaraba-sukromnik

        Sorry for Slovak/Czech links, but Google Translator should be of help.

        I have certainly forgotten something, but I could probably go on and on. I can find more people who can talk about the situation, if you were interested.

  18. roderich

    This article is such tendentious... :-(

    Dear author, you "forgot" to tell lot of things, f.e. the most important:

    - Current operator of .sk domain (private company DanubiaTel) have gained this business with no tender, no public competition, but by direct order of one former minister (btw. on the last day in his chair) with strong and loud disapproval of whole local internet community, including all web hosting providers, registrators, telco operators and academic community

    - There is valid contract between government and DanubiaTel. This contract guarantees all rights to .sk domain to the DanubiaTel, including registration rules and price policy. Yes, there is (as you wrote) kind of committee with representation of three parties (government, DanubiaTel and "internet community") with formal rights to decide all this issues. But there is also one fact, that DanubiaTel can block all decisions of committee, because statute says, that without representatives of DanubiaTel, there can not be made any decision. Another thing is, all responsible government officials (including gov representatives in committee) are very likely on a payroll of DanubiaTel, judging by their votes in committee, which are fully in the line with the interest of DanubiaTel. Due to the fact, that in the contract is not exactly defined who is "internet community", also almost all representatives of this body are nominated by consensus between DanubiaTel and responsible government officials. There is only one exeption - after many years registrars were able to get one chair in the committee, but with one chair (and one vote) they have no real influence. But now they are at least informed about events regarding .sk domain.

    - This amazing contract can not be terminated. Actually, it could be, but only with approval of committee, which is not possible without votes of DanubiaTel representatives.

    - This contract btw. says, that DanubiaTel can keep all revenues from .sk domain and pays nothing to the government. There is only one obligation - DanubiaTel should invest 5% of the revenues to public beneficial projects, what they does not do in a first place, and there is also not defined what does it exactly mean. They can invest this resources also to their own projects.

  19. nepto

    From the NasaDomena.sk petition authors

    My name is Ondrej Jombik, and I am one of the creator of NasaDomena.sk petition.

    Unfortunately, as already pointed by others, article contains several alternative and unchecked facts. This seems to me like it is from some `fake news` media, but now I am quite confused. I was pretty sure that TheRegister.co.uk does not belong among those sites.

    Especially hardly understandable is why author never sought an opinion and/or corrections from us, a petition authors. We are clearly stated and easily contacted, for example through the social media. Also our e-mail address info@nasadomena.sk is obviously written in the website footer. Some of us, including me, live partially in United States, so there would not be any language barrier you may think of.

    I understand we could have a different opinion on certain issues. However, it would make this article much more balanced, if there would be some voice from the other side as well. Contacting us could also fix some other clearly false statements; those are just facts, not anyone's opinions.

    Also I am not sure why article was written in such an nonobjective manner, and what is the goal it follows. For example, Kieren highlights transparency and accountability as a good values, yet she advocates for CentralNic aquisition, which was planned to happen in first quarter of 2017, quickly and behind the closed door. Only because this information has accidentally leaked from SK-NIC in February 2017, we were able to start a campaign against it.

    Anyway, .SK TLD problem is a long-term one. To grasp it, you need to dig a bit into history. We have thousands of documents in Slovak language, but only very few in English. This would be a good start:

    Letter to ICANN:

    https://blog.platon.sk/icann-sknic-tld-problemy/

    History of .SK TLD:

    https://medium.com/@Oskar456/stolen-sk-domain-717e070f6735

    It is easy to label us as a political lobbyist, or business personnels, or just a naive kids. It is already happening, and this article is no exception. We do not mind about such labels. Sometimes you just need to do what is right, regardless of outcome profit or loss.

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