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Legco Panel Discusses .hk Administration

First published: 08th April 2009

Allan Dyer

On the 7th April 2009 I attended the Legco Panel on Information Techniology and Broadcasting, to present the Hong Kong Computer Society's views on the Review of the Administration of internet domain names in Hong Kong.

There were fourteen delegations, including Sir John Strickland, representing the HKIRC, who said he was there to listen.

Major themes in the views were transparency, accountability and the Regsitry- Registrar model. Other delegations that mentioned the Registry-Registrar issue were wholly in favour, and concerned with the delay in introducing it, in contrast to the view I put that there needs to be more consideration of whether it actually benefits Hong Kong.

Some views were contradictory: one organisation thought the current arrangements for becoming an HKIRC member were too difficult and wanted to make membership of HKIRC automatic for domain name holders. Tiglion, an ISP, said they did not want to be forced to become an HKIRC member, and considered it a direct contravention of Article 27 of the Basic Law of HKSAR that guarantees freedom of association.

The Legislators, including Hon Ronny TONG Ka-wah, Hon Cyd HO Sau-lan, and Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, were particularly interested in the status of the draft MOU, the confidential parts of the Consultant's Report, and the submission from the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor (who did not attend the meeting) and freedom of speech.

On the effects on free speech, Sir John Strickland pointed out that HKIRC was just a small company with the sole purpose of associating names with numbers: once you have a domain name, they have no control over the content. He did not discuss how HKIRC de-registered over 8000 domain names that were being used for spam-related activities. This directly relates to the HKCS view that .hk domains should be subject to Hong Kong law, and the Human Rights Monitor's call for open procedures on refusals and disqualifications.

The Legislators didn't get all the answers they wanted, and asked for the topic to be included on the agenda of the next meeting in May.

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