back to article .uk registry operator Nominet responds to renewed criticism – by silencing its critics

In an extraordinary display of raw political power, the organisation in charge of the .uk internet registry has responded to growing criticism of its actions by silencing critics. Speaking at Nominet’s annual general meeting (AGM) on Tuesday morning, the organisation’s CEO Russell Haworth shocked members by announcing he was …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    How is Nominet able to get away with its actions without breaking any laws?

    I was under the impression that it is answerable to the government too but I suspect the current bunch approve of this business style.

    At minimum the aggrieved should get together to crowfund a legal response. A non-profit intended to act for the public interest but isn't?

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      I don't think it's answerable to government. It's just another non-profit entity that has been given a role, but it's not really answerable for anything other than "do the .uk domain name TLDs work?".

      This is how things operate... it's basically a private company, technically a "profit with a purpose" company, under the guise of a non-profit, doing what an official government authority should really be doing.

      It's answerable only to its shareholders, like any other company, unless it's doing something illegal.

      Which is exactly the problem with private companies fulfilling necessary functional roles in infrastructure like the Internet.

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Flame

        Yes, but the members are the shareholders, and they are not answering to them.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        As you say, it's answerable to its members and the members have an opportunity to vote on the board at the next AGM. They also have the right to propose their own candidates as replacements for the board. Of all the companies in the UK it's harder to think of any that have a better ability to get together online behind the managements back to do just that.

        But should this really be a government function? On the whole I think that the less governments have their hands on the net the better.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Unhappy

          But should this really be a government function? On the whole I think that the less governments have their hands on the net the better.

          It always feels a bit strange to have discussions about how things should be run. In an ideal world, no-one would die of cancer and elderly people wouldn't gradually have their minds destroyed.

          The fact of the matter is that we peasants have only marginally more influence over the running of Nominet as we do over these things. All we can do is hope for the best of a bad deal in a highly constrained range of options controlled by numerous powerful vested interests.

          The Government isn't going to do anything about Nominet's corporate structure unless it reaches the front page of the Daily Mail, and even then they would probably just nationalize it and put Baroness Harding in charge.

          1. Graham 32

            > they would probably just nationalize it and put Baroness Harding in charge.

            If it keeps her away from other things I'd consider it a win.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              That would be a pyrrhic victory.

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              "If it keeps her away from other things I'd consider it a win."

              $deity, NOooooo!!!!!!

              Can you imagine the Govt. taking over Nominet? Step one: Massive increase in bureaucracy. Step 2: Oh look, financial problems mumble mumble, COVID-19...lets increase domain fees.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "even then they would probably just nationalize it and put Baroness Harding in charge."

            One reason for keeping it away from government.

      3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        All that is needed to ensure that a company is non-profit is to increase the executive salaries until they equal the excess of income over expenditure. Simples

      4. NeilPost Silver badge

        Shirley Ofcom or DCMS has regulatory oversight??

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meh

      Someone please create a No 10 Petition to investigate corruption at Nominet.

      1. David Neil

        Re: Meh

        What's stopping you from doing it?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Meh

          You need more than one person to sponsor it, and I don't have any mates

  2. seven of five Silver badge

    Wow

    I must admit, that is a rather impressive display of power excercised. Especially taking down the forum mid-call.

    Not necessarily wise, yet impressive.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not necessarily wise, yet impressive.

      more like: we can do it, so FUCK YOU LOSERS!

      no, not necessarily wise though. IF, by pure chance, those losers might feel offended, as much as by the act, as by the "attitude", and this development might, again, by pure chance, move up and up from the very back of the very back of "news" and reach "wider audience", it might filter through to people with some power who might decide that, for their own benefit, they might back those "losers" to become a champion of the little people, etc. Remember that fine legal beaver who used legal system to extract money from "PIRATES" by sending threatening letters? Or that restaurateur in the US, who claimed that more bad reviews generate even more profit for his business, so BRING IT ON YOU LOSERS?! Had they done their bit, but quietly, they would have enjoyed their money. But they decided to make their fuckyou attitude public, because there's no bad publicity, etc. Well, sometimes it backfires. I hope it does now.

  3. jake Silver badge

    "legally, a member-based non-profit organisation"

    But in reality, it is a de facto dictatorship.

    The members had best organize, and do it quickly, or they are going to be fucked.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "legally, a member-based non-profit organisation"

      The problem with this is that members make very little profit from each domain name and pass costs onto the end user.

      So it is the end user and UK brands/business who are the most fucked as a result of this, not the members.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "legally, a member-based non-profit organisation"

        Bollocks! You can buy a .uk domain name for about £10/year. Which is pretty much what it costs for a .com or a .net or a .whatever name. So who's getting fucked? A business that can't afford £10/year but could manage £4-5/year has much bigger problems to worry about.

        Nominet's gets £3.90/year for every .uk name. Everything above that in the retail market is the registrar's margin. And for the big players, economies of scale mean that margin is almost all profit because their overheads will be spread across zillions of registrations. If Nominet cut its costs (and it surely can) the wholesale price could maybe go down to say £2/year. But retail prices wouldn't go down to match that price cut. They'll say the same because registrars will pocket the difference - more margin and $$$ for them.

        The actual argument isn't about Nominet squandering money. Though it's a justified criticism. It's about registrars wanting a bigger slice of the cake for themselves. It's not about reducing costs for the consumer.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: "legally, a member-based non-profit organisation"

      After reading the Wikipedia entry on nominet, I see no legal bar to the unhappy members walking away and starting their own not for profit using .GB.

      I'll chip in with a couple of quid if they incorporate a few rules to prevent this kind of thing.

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: "legally, a member-based non-profit organisation"

        There is only one problem with .gb - and that is Northern Ireland...

        (no, I'm not trying to start a discussion about recent politics and would rather not see it happen as a reply to this post...)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Flame

          Re: "legally, a member-based non-profit organisation"

          There is only one problem with .gb - and that is Northern Ireland..

          And I've heard that the SNP are really looking forward to the May 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, a few months after a likely disastrous Westminster-driven Brexit adds a few super-tankers worth of petrol to the flames of Scottish independence.

          Perhaps .lb - Little Britain - would work.

          1. Chris G Silver badge

            Re: "legally, a member-based non-profit organisation"

            Okay! How about .BI or .HC (Home Counties) since everyone wants to devolve.

            1. DaveEdi

              Re: "legally, a member-based non-profit organisation"

              Or .BS (Below Scotland) if Wales chooses to stay with Engerlund.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: everyone wants to devolve.

              Perhaps .m25 then?

              Mind you, perhaps numbers aren't allowed :-)

            3. Bonegang
              Flame

              Re: "legally, a member-based non-profit organisation"

              .kent must be next, shirley, given the latest brexit nonsense from those who should know better.

          2. Outski Bronze badge

            Re: "legally, a member-based non-profit organisation"

            Taken - LB is the TLD CC (and ISO-3166) for Lebanon

        2. jason_derp Bronze badge

          Re: "legally, a member-based non-profit organisation"

          "There is only one problem with .gb - and that is Northern Ireland..."

          Why are they a problem? Do they not know what island they're on? .ie already exists for the WHOLE island of Ireland, does it not?

      2. Yes Me Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: "legally, a member-based non-profit organisation"

        .GB being an ISO code assigned to The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, ICANN will only delegate it to a registrar supported by the government of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. At the moment, it's simply listed as "Reserved".

        Good luck with your application. The instructions are at https://www.iana.org/help/cctld-delegation. I'm sure the government will provide the necessary statement of support within the next few decades.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "legally, a member-based non-profit organisation"

      Is he applying for the role of Keir Starmer?

    4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: or they are going to be fucked

      I think it's a bit late for that.

    5. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: "legally, a member-based non-profit organisation"

      "

      But in reality, it is a de facto dictatorship.

      "

      As are just about all private companies. Running a company as a democracy doesn't work.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "legally, a member-based non-profit organisation"

        Private companies are owned by their members. They must have an AGM at which members can vote. If a majority of the holders of membership voting rights choose to vote the old board out of office and vote in a replacement that's the end of the old board and all its policies. The board can dismiss company management including the CEO if they wish.

        Unless one member controls most of the votes that's a long way away from being a dictatorship.

        But don't let facts get in the way of an internet post.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "legally, a member-based non-profit organisation"

          DoctorSyntax wrote:

          "Private companies are owned by their members. They must have an AGM at which members can vote."

          I'm going to assume you mean private companies registered in England and Wales. I don't know about the rules for Scotland and NI or the Cayman Islands or various places with company-friendly regimes.

          In England and Wales, I'm not sure the law still says anything equivalent to "They must have an AGM at which members can vote."

          Have a look at e.g.

          https://www.companylawclub.co.uk/law-on-company-general-meetings

          DoctorSyntax also wrote

          "The board can dismiss company management including the CEO if they wish."

          See above. That depends on the company's particular rules. I don't know Nominet's rules and circumstances - do you? I have no intention of defending their recent/current behaviour.

          "don't let facts get in the way of an internet post."

          Indeed.

        2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Re: "legally, a member-based non-profit organisation"

          Unless one member controls most of the votes

          Oh, you mean like Zuck and Facebook...

          not good at all.

          As for Nimonet, I sense a lot of very expensive Lawyers will be involved very soon.

        3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: "legally, a member-based non-profit organisation"

          That is exactly the definition of a dictatorship. In a dictatorship only the members of the government get a say on policy. As opposed to all the people who those policies affect.

          But don't let facts get in the way of an internet post.

  4. djvrs

    Reason: Covid

    Covid will and has been used as an excuse for so many things - rightly or wrongly.

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: Reason: Covid

      Why not just add in Brexit, Trump and Nazi Germany and they can then claim a full house on their bullshit bingo card.

  5. 759b954e-617b-408b-a2b1-f5a42c3688d4

    Nominet has been broken for many, many years. No proper domain privacy options, terrible customer service, they seem to think that being an official registrar makes them untouchable. Unfortunately they seem to be right. Best option is not to bother registering .*.uk names at all and find an alternative that is more pleasant to deal with.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It’s always important for us to understand your views. That's why we’re shutting them down

    well, the most important thing is this: you can't claim they're inconsistent! :D

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In its place, Haworth suggested occasional Zoom calls

    presumably, those awkward questions put across zoom calls will be available for the world to see and consider, as those awkward questions previously put forward on the forum?!

    ...

    oh, really?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So pass a resolution to clear the board, and put in new people.

    1. Red Ted Silver badge
      FAIL

      It'll get voted down...

      As the minority of the votes are controlled by Nominet and the biggest domain registrars.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Presumably the posts published on the Nominet forum remain the property of the poster, why not just set up a new forum and republish everything to date, thereby moving the content and forum beyond the control of the board. Data subject access request from each member should do the trick if they refuse to provide a full copy.

    Once the paying members have their own forum they can organise, after all nominet doesnt own anything but "*.UK". and ".GB" for example as has already been posted here as an alternative

    I have noticed the same behaviour shown by Nominet in other "UK Insistutions", where IMHO the board have set themselves up with benefits and pensions whilst the paying members were looking the other way. This IMHO is what the grab is all about, the nominet board have been allowed to have too much power without oversight and the result is that the paying members have not noticed that they have been systimatically disenfranched over years. The members might be able to fight the grab but it is likely to be both cheaper and more reliable to just take you ball back and start your own game without the leeches.

    1. Psmo Silver badge
      Mushroom

      OK but

      There was no warning of the takedown.

      If they've been clean, the data will already have been purged, and as it's a private forum the various archives may not have the details.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: OK but

        Nominet retains 7 years of forum posts within its email archives.

  10. TimMaher Silver badge
    Facepalm

    ICO

    The Information Commissioners Office, or another suitable organisation should be running this.

    There is no real competitive market.

    There is only one *.uk.

    This should not be in the hands of a commercial enterprise but in the hands of a set of reasonably paid, bored, nine to five, civil servants who can’t be arsed to screw things up.

    IMHO of course.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: ICO

      Be very careful what you wish for. You might get it.

      Do you really want a BoJo, a Cummings, a Corbyn*, a Gove, a Rees-Mogg or any of the rest of the rogues gallery running the internet in the UK?

      Various governments have wanted to get their hands on the net, usually via the ITU. Fortunately the ITU has managed to fend them off. Read about it by searching for el Reg's articles on it.

      The existing governance might bot be ideal but there seem to be commentards here who want something worse. A lot worse.

      * Under your idea it could have come to that.

      1. Teiwaz

        Re: ICO

        Do you really want a BoJo, a Cummings, a Corbyn*, a Gove, a Rees-Mogg or any of the rest of the rogues gallery running the internet in the UK?

        They'll get back to trying to 'think of children' by trying to block adult material/gather a register of people wanting to access it for what's left of the UK by that time sooner or later. Whenever they've got brexit done/suffiiciently gotten the media to 'move on' from whatever other shit-show they've made of some other minor crisis and can't find anything else to break or fuck up.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: ICO

        "a Rees-Mogg or any of the rest of the rogues gallery running the internet in the UK?"

        OMG no! We'll have to learn semaphore to communicate and female connectors will have to wear long skirts!

  11. Red Ted Silver badge
    FAIL

    We've got a money printing machine

    ... and we're not afraid to use it.

  12. poohbear

    The Internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it.

    Should be fun.

  13. G2
    Trollface

    "Robust conversations"?

    quote: “Robust multi-stakeholder discussions and debates are a critical part of what we do and member voices are key.”

    translation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyesJQ3lsto

    translation presented by Louis Rossmann

  14. bronskimac

    Problem is that the big domain companies have the biggest share of the votes and they are happy with the way Nominet is run to their advantage. Even if the vast majority of the members try to make any changes the big few can always outvote them.

    1. Rol Silver badge

      That might be so, but just like in our democracy, there are checks and balances to stop the majority from sticking it to the minority.

      As a minority shareholder I could seek redress for the actions of the majority that have so obviously impinged on my rights, and provided I make a good enough fist of it in court, I would get every nasty little thing they have done reverted back to where it should never have changed from.

  15. LondonTech

    What has Russell Haworth achieved in 5 years?

    Time flies. It’s almost 6 years since Russell Haworth joined Nominet as CEO in January 2015.

    Other than keep what was already built working, what have Russell’s big achievements been?

    1. Insert sadsack pun here

      Re: What has Russell Haworth achieved in 5 years?

      A 30% raise to 593,000 quid, apparently!!!

    2. Nano nano

      Re: What has Russell Haworth achieved in 5 years?

      A lot less than the Romans ever did for us ...

  16. N2 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Nominet and its hissy fit CEO

    Has demonstrated they are not fit for purpose.

    Icon, is whats required.

  17. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: I just noticed that...

      it true, you are safe to ban .uk in your Dns now.

    2. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: I just noticed that...

      Been like that for several months

  18. steviebuk Silver badge

    Other companies try to silence their critics

    Like Parkshield Collection LTD. Did a video of their website back in August last year on how insecure it was and how it breached GDPR. Their T&C made no mention of the existence of GDPR (they've now back dated their T&C to make it appear they had it in place before august 2019). They had no SSL and all forms anyone filled in were sent over in plain txt. No email address to inform them of the issue so the video was made. Has been on my YouTube for almost a year, along with my email address which they could of emailed.

    But no. A couple of weeks ago the idiot owners decided to claim a false copyright strike on the video so it got instantly removed. An attempt to hide their crimes. They clearly don't understand how the Internet works. My channel is backed up by lbry. So every video uploaded also gets uploaded to lbry. Lbry won't stand for the bullshit claim nonsense so its still available there :o)

    All they had to do was email me, explaining they've fixed the SSL issue on the Parking Enforcement Agency site. I'd have thought about removing the video. Despite the issue having been on going for months and months. And despite their main company site parkshieldgroup still having no SSL by default.

    You'll always get shady companies attempting to silence their crimes.

    1. Pangasinan Philippines

      Re: Other companies try to silence their critics

      Could of!!!! - FFS

      1. Phones Sheridan
        Trollface

        Re: Other companies try to silence their critics

        I could care less!

      2. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Other companies try to silence their critics

        https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/whats-worse-than-coulda

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow is it available to watch

    I bet that was a real “hardon” moment for the boss man.

    Basically FU oh and what are you going to do about it ha ha ha ha ha. You just gotta love scammers

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wow is it available to watch

      https://twitter.com/whois_search/status/1308834400398970880

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