A change of plan: why you won't be able to vote for me for the Nominet board

A lot has happened in the last week. Not just in terms of Nominet stuff, as the volume of Internet regulatory issues crossing my inbox has seeming turned up another notch or two, but perhaps especially in terms of Nominet stuff.

As you may have seen, I indicated my intention to stand for election as a non-executive director of Nominet.

tl;dr: I'm not.

I was delighted to see that there was some support for me standing. I'm grateful to those who got in touch to say that - thank you. I'm even more grateful to Simon and Susannah who spent literally hours discussing things with me.

Why I wanted to stand

I made the decision to stand for a number of reasons, but key amongst them were:

  • fixing some of what I perceive to be the deficiencies of Nominet seemed like a good use of my limited time. In particular, I was interested in tackling:
    • what I perceive to be a lack of focus on the "core mission" of being the .uk namespace custodian, with the distraction of acquisitions in secondary (at best) areas and commercial ventures.
    • a lack of transparency on key topics, vital not just for members but for everyone, and which is, in my view, incompatible with how I think a custodian of this type of resource should be behaving.
    • a lack of due process, and independent oversight, of domain suspensions. With at least one of my feet firmly in the world of investigatory powers and the Internet, I find this very disappointing, given the importance of the DNS to an online existence.
    • an excessive focus on the "domain name industry" side of the DNS - on the sellers of domains in the .uk namespace - rather than on the rights and needs of the Internet users who buy and use .uk domains.
    • my concern that domain pricing is simply too high - something with which I expect a lot of members would be sympathetic, and, more importantly, which should - assuming reductions trickle down - be to the benefit of the most important people, the users of domains.
  • at the time, Simon Blackler, who spearheaded the PublicBenefit.uk campaign over the last year or so, had said he was not going to be standing. There is a significant degree of alignment between my views and Simon's on some of the issues above, and it would be a shame if someone pushing for a free, open Internet was not standing to be counted. I was willing to be that person.
  • there is, IMHO, a paucity of experience on the Nominet board of some of the legal and regulatory matters with which Nominet really needs to grapple, and that I could help fill that void.

Where I am at now

I'm not going to be standing.

Two of the reasons for that are closely connected with the key reasons I was considering standing in the first place:

  • Simon is standing. He put the hard miles in for the PublicBenefit.uk campaign and, while of course it is a matter for the electorate, if anyone deserves to have a seat at the board, it is Simon. More importantly, I no longer feel that Nominet would be without someone pushing for a free, open Internet. I am also confident that all or many of the things I find concerning, above, would likely be represented at board level.
  • There is, I am reliably informed, another candidate with a legal background (although I'm not privy to exactly what that is), with domain name expertise. That's reassuring to me.

Two others are more anodyne:

  • bluntly, while being a relative "outsider" to the commercial domain name industry (but not to the DNS - and there's a key distinction there) means I would have brought a different set of skills, and a different perspective, to the table, it also makes getting elected to a body where the votes are held by those in the commercial industry side of things very difficult.
  • there are so many Internet and telecoms issues demanding my time at the moment that even scrabbling together the time to fill in the paperwork within the required deadlines would have been a challenge. I'm not going to the drop the ball on something on which I am already working for the sake of potentially getting the change to sink my teeth into a new challenge.

Because of these, I no longer feel any particular pressure to stand, and there are other bodies, and other issues of concern to me, where I feel my time and skills would be better spent for now.

I'll be keeping an eye on Nominet and the direction of travel (after all, there will be future elections), and I might consider throwing my hat into the ring again but, for now, I'm content there are other worthy candidates.

If I had a vote, in whose favour would I cast it?

Without having seen the full list of candidates, it would be presumptive of me to commit my (imaginary) vote.

However, there's a strong chance I would be backing Simon.


Author: neil

I'm Neil. By day, I run a law firm, decoded.legal, giving advice on Internet, telecoms, and tech law. This is my personal blog, so will be mostly about tech stuff, cycling, and other hobbies.