More Websites, More Problems

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Byline: Issa Sikiti Da Silva

Mar 09, 2010 (Biz-Community/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) — While the growth in number of websites officially registered worldwide is a tangible proof that the Internet is cruising ahead, it has been established that more problems and challenges are likely to emerge, whether in terms of safety, fraud, ‘squatting’, logistics or disputes.

.ZA Domain Name Authority (ZADNA) GM Vika Mpisane told Bizcommunity.com yesterday, 8 March 2010, “By its nature, the Internet has been as good as it is bad because of e-crime and other security threats. A radical increase in the number of new domain name registrations is less of a challenge when registration is automated.

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“It is only a challenge when registration systems are manual and therefore slow, and that is the problem with some of the lesser known .za domains.

“Yet with the .za central registry set to assume management of most .za domains, registration will be as much automated as possible. However, the problem of trademark and brand abuse will remain a challenge still, not only for .za, but everybody: .com, .net, .de… everybody.”

Seeking redress can be slow, costly

ZADNA is the agency that manages South Africa’s Internet space. The institution is funded by the Department of Communications (DOC) at the tune of a mere R1.5 million annually.

As squatters’ business flourish because of an increase in domain names registration, many people and organisations complain of name tampering, leaving them with no choice but to seek redress from ZADNA through its Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) process.

However, some aggrieved people and organisations continue to shun the ADR process, saying that it is slow, costly and time-consuming, opting instead to negotiate directly with squatters.

Others, however, are not even aware that an ADR process exists in SA.

ADR is ‘effective’, but …

Mpisane said, “The .za ADR process is very effective and as ZADNA we are confident about that. What may be a serious factor are the ADR fees involved.

“While the ADR fee is much cheaper, at R10 000, than normal court fees, some people feel that even that R10 000 is still expensive because some cyber-squatters may simply sell you back your name at less than R5000.

“If then you can get your name back at less than R5000, why then bother lodge an ADR dispute? So, the fee issue has been somewhat thorny, but we cannot simply lower it as it is the minimum that could be charged to have disputes resolved by the most experienced lawyers.

“So the current fees are trying to strike a balance between affordability and superior expertise.”

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A need to raise awareness

Nevertheless, he conceded that ZADNA would look at ways of enhancing the ADR process, including possibly revising the current fees.

“Yet, the ADR regulations are promulgated by the Minister of Communications, and any changes should be approved by the Minister.

“As for awareness, yes, we realise we need to make our businesses and people more aware of the ADR process. In fact, ZADNA has commenced talking to business and other organisations to create awareness in this area.”

As for the increase in domain names, he said, “We are excited about this. Of course, our primary joy is to see an increase, albeit not so strong, in the number of co.za and org.za domain names.

“We believe that once we improve and standardise the operation of all .za domains, we will see an improved increase in new .za domain names and websites.”

Copyright Biz-Community. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).