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Opening the veil on the IE Domain Registry

University College, Dublin is the body responsible for operating the IE Domain Registry. However, the registry is run in a very untransparent fashion.

I wanted to break the veil of secrecy, so I put in a request under Ireland’s Freedom of Information Act to see files relating to the IE Domain Registry. Despite a lot of objections from UCD and the Registry, I’ve just received this ruling from the Information Commissioner confirming that I am entitled to see these files.

I’ve been working with IEwatch in calling for reform of the registry for quite some time now. I am anxious to see the registry run in a fair and above-board manner. The Department of Communications has a list as long as your arm of people who have expressed concern about the IE Domain Registry, including the Minister for Enterprise and Employment, Mary Harney. The registry is well aware of our concerns and have done absolutely nothing to address them.

IE Domain Registry Ltd. (IEDR), the company which runs the .ie domain day-to-day, and UCD refuse to provide anything but the most cursory information about its operations. This despite the fact that they acknowledge that the IE domain is a public asset.

I’ve been trying to get the files I am legally entitled to for over six months now. UCD and IEDR have obstructed me every step of the way in my Freedom of Information request. They have continuously trotted out feeble excuses as to why they won’t release this information. This has resulted in considerable expense for me and the Irish taxpayer because of the time required to file all the necessary appeals to get access. I would have preferred to negotiate directly with UCD, but I finally had to appeal to the Information Commissioner to have him investigate and decide on the matter.

Finally, on Wednesday, the Information Commissioner issued his ruling. It came down in my favour, and calls for the release of what appears to be a substantial body of documentation.

I hope that UCD and IE Domain Registry Ltd. will now allow the information to be released promptly. There is no benefit for them in taking court action to prevent the files being released – they would have to make that appeal on a point of law, and the character of the ruling would appear to make that difficult -.

Below is the decision letter I received from the Information Commissioner. It’s worth reading the reasons UCD and IEDR said justifying refusing access, including ‘prejudicial pre-trial publicity’, ‘prejudicial media comment’, and that the information ‘may revive the media campaign previously directed against the company’. The Information commissioner did not accept these as sufficient grounds for refusal.


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  1. Well done Antoin, hopefully something will come out of it!

    Oh by the way, your adddress is right on the top of that letter, don’t know if you’re cool with that or not 🙂

  2. About time we got to see what’s going on there!!
    Well done!

  3. Antoin,
    hats off, this is making news all over the world and rightly so. I refuse to buy a .ie domain on principle and rarely encourage my clients to do so, I expect all that to change very shortly now thanks to you,



  4. Well done, anything which opens up the .ie process is very welcome. Dealing with our .ie domain has been a nightmarish pain of faxing and arguments compared to the “5 minutes and your done” for our .com. Not to mention the pricing, which is ludicrous.

    Many thanks for your efforts.

  5. Damn right. I work for a web hosting company, and we’ve had nothing but non-stop trouble with .ie domains. We’ve had domains awarded to us, and then taken away with no explanation. We’ve had domains moved away from us by the IEDR at the request of another company, with absoloutly no notification. Even now we have domain registrations that were denied, and when we appealed (of course you can only appeal to the IEDR, no WIPO or outside judge here) and asked for a reason why…we get ignored.

    The IEDR are about as transparent and about as easy to converse with as a brick wall, and are a law unto themselves.

  6. Good work fella!
    Would do me a favour and post your letter that you sent that initiated this landslide victory please?

  7. Hi Antoin

    Well done. Looks like you’ve got them on the run.
    It will be interesting to find out what they’re doing
    with the profits.


  8. Thanks for that, it should be interesting to see if their ‘accounting’ practices are illuminated here.

  9. This is excellent news. Well done!! The exorbitant fees carged by the .ie registry is clearly a rip off when compared to the register cost of other country domain extensions. I own and operate (domain registry)and I refuse to offer the .ie extension. How can I justify a $70 .ie domain registration compared to $8.75 for a .com domain?
    I’ll follow this story with interest…again, well done Antoin.

  10. hey this looks really interesting.
    good luck with this.
    UCD libraries have been long long long in my thoughts.
    “Information want’s to be free”: Richard Stallman.
    and I quite agree.
    let us all know through IMC irl. what happens with this.

  11. Fantastic news Antoin! I only dealt with the IEDR once a couple of years ago and determined never to go that route again because the process was such a pain in the arse. The IEDR seems to enforce its own rules in a will-nilly fashion, depending on who you are and what political party you’re a member of. Good luck getting the information from them!

  12. Well, you are a true hero of the republic! I guess you will be one of the first when Ireland gets an honours list. Perhaps not! but you can bust the company controling the honors list when it happens. Cos its sure to be non transparent in its workings too. But congrats on a job well done.
    Brian White (exiled in beautiful bc canada).

  13. Thank God the dinosaurs at UCD are awakening.
    Now all we have to do is take Eircom to task.
    I know 49.99 is within the realms of possibility for broadband- but their download limit is a tad stingy….. as usual!
    Keep up the good work


    Does any body remember when back in the early 90’s it was declared that Ireland had one of the most advanced information infastructures in the world, all modern to the point that it left our European partners behind? Well it seems that the cowboys that are so intent on creating havoc for us are slowly being tracked down and broguht to the slaughter. All we have to do now is drop to our knees and prey for proper internet access rates and rid this island of the money exploiting bodoes, be they in the educational mix or in the government/business playgrounds.

    Greg Ryan

  15. Well Done Antoin.
    IEDR won’t be truly competitive and transparent until all its ties with UCD are severed. Academics don’t have a clue how to run a business – they just don’t understand ‘customers’.
    You’ve got them on the ropes.

  16. Outstanding – great to see these greedy organistaions have the law used against them for the people\by the people – well done Antoin.

  17. Antoin,

    Nice one!

    The article in The Register mentioned “one-off costs” incurred by the IEDR.

    Did that include the black polo shirts with the new “shamrock” IEDR logo embroidered on, and some equally expensive-looking mouse mats?

    If so, I’d gladly hand mine back (don’t worry, they are unworn and unused) if it will save the poor IEDR a few shillings.

  18. Thanks for introducing me to a completely novel concept: Freedom of Information.

    Happens I’d like to know how Ulsterbus are charging so much money for fares and still getting subsidised by the government. It costs less to take the car in these parts.

    When I checked their accounts I worked my way eagerly through the copious detail, until I got to the good part: How much they collect in fares and what they spend it on. Here they resorted to a single line explanation couched in specious accounting jargon claiming that releasing this information would damage the company.

    Do you think, perhaps, freedom of information might apply here, too?


  19. well, are they receiving any money from the Irish exchequer? then the Irish FOI might be of some help. it’s usually possible to find out something, although it can take a very long time.

  20. Well after just been booted out of the place for standing up for what I believe to be right and fair, I can honestly saying I’m delighted you had the balls to go this far and it will be very interesting to see what comes out of that pit!

  21. Very well done. I think you’ve rescued them from themselves. The .ie domain was a joke – instead of “protecting” it, they were turning it into an irrelevance.

  22. Congratulations Antoin,
    Fantastic achievement – you’re fast becoming Ireland’s Ralph Nader. It won’t
    be long before our politicians are looking to you for their vote-yielding
    crusades. The IEDR and UCD cannot resist for much longer the ever increasing
    volume of the calls for openess, transparency and the reasonable aspirations
    of the Irish Internet industry and Sean Citizen. It’s time government
    plucked up the courage to decide – is .ie truly a national asset subject to
    government’s usual checks and balances or is it in fact simply another
    ‘golden circle’ outfit to be run into the ground by a group of
    Ceaucesceu-type individuals who grabbed .ie when they thought they’d a
    window of opportunity? The pressure is building inexorably, I particularly
    liked the three investigative articles prompted by your actions – and and
    If the Department of Communications is too timid to act they should ask
    ComReg to get involved – ComReg doesn’t seem to have any reservations about
    sorting out Eircom which, in its previous existence as Telecom Eireann, was
    administered by the same directors and henchmen who have moved on to now
    directing (?) the IEDR – refer
    By the way, any truth in the rumour Antoin you’re the guest speaker at the
    press conference being organised in late July by twelve of the IEDR’s former
    staff and consultants who, I’m told, intend distributing information to
    journalists which, quote, ‘will bring down the entire IEDR house of cards
    and reveal UCD’s complicity and duplicity’? Now there’s a session I’m gladly
    cancelling my holidays for.

  23. Anton:

    Good to see action at last. I can only replicate the many others feelings and comments.

    Well done, from Ireland’s other cctld administrators


  24. Well done!
    I live in the UK and hold dual UK/Irish Nationality.
    I looked at getting an ie domain until I released that the rules are restrictive and cost is ludicrous!

    The IEDR FAQ is a very smug document, lacking reality (“.com means you’re a fly-by-night”) – the Irish national domain registry needs to be shaken up!


  25. Nice one. I E-mailed them with two simple questions. Still waiting for a reply. (hmmmmmmm.. Ombusdman?)
    Well Done. Good work though.
    The Tide is Turning……..


  • Cruises February 3, 2004