Niue’s ongoing battle for the .nu domain

Niue has been put under scrutiny by recent international media regarding its ongoing fight for the website domain name “.nu”.

Over the years, the .nu domain has gained considerable attraction and value particularly in European countries where thousands of Scandinavian countries have registered their websites with the .nu domain name.

It is also a popular domain name because ‘nu’ means ‘now’ in Swedish, Danish and Dutch. 

It is also Niue’s well-known domain name significantly seen and currently used for government emails and websites. Some may see .nu as Niue’s country code domain specifically reserved for Niue only but that has not been the case for many years.

Since 2018, the Niue government has been fighting to gain back control over the website domain since losing the rights in the early 2000s and they are finally nearing the end. 

This fight goes back 27 years ago in 1997 when IANA first assigned Niue with the .nu domain name.

During this time, the Niue government signed an agreement with American businessman Bill Semich who wanted to control the domain in exchange for free unlimited internet access and wifi in Niue. 

Through the IUSN Foundation, Semich claimed that part of the revenues generated from the .nu domain will go towards Niue’s internet access. 

Realising the major losses from this deal, the Niue government cancelled the deal with Semich in 2000 but were unsuccessful due to the legal language of the agreement making no difference. 

Semich also refused to give back control over the .nu domain to the Government of Niue.

The IUSN Foundation later transferred operation of the domain name .nu to the Swedish Internet Foundation in 2013 who have been operating the domain since.

Up until 2018 when the Government of Niue filed a lawsuit to the Stockholm District Court claiming that the Swedish Internet Foundation in 2013 had taken the .nu domain name ‘unfairly’ and without the Niue government’s consent.  

Par Brumark is the Niue government’s special envoy on this case who is also Niue’s ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) representative. 

Niue had only realised some years later that the .nu domain gave a reliable stream of revenue for the island that would’ve supported Niue’s economy instead of relying solely on foreign aid and tourism. 

According to a recent article written by the New York Times, Niue is seeking approximately “$30 million in damages from the foundation.”

Richard Orange, who wrote an article on ‘Pacific island nation hopes to win back .nu domain from Sweden’ last week, stated that a court ruling will be taking place next month on March 14th to determine whether Niue will regain its rights to control the domain. 

BCN News spoke with Premier Dalton Tagelagi this week who shared his insights as Niue’s leader regarding this long fight. 

“We have been pursuing this. It’s been a while. We still are continuing to pursue the .nu name as we think it’s our sovereign property.”

“We succeeded in a few of the cases but there’s still a bit of work to do.”

Premier Tagelagi says that maybe our former leaders and governments were ‘poorly advised’ about the .nu domain and were taken advantage of by those from outside. 

“Of course at the time, everything was new, when talking about the internet.”

“I think that we have been duped into getting that understanding that we will have free internet.”

“Now we realise that Niue can benefit from some sort of revenue from the .nu and that’s what we are pursuing because of experience from other Pacific countries with their domain name that they are making good revenue on an annual basis.”

Premier Tagelagi remains optimistic in regaining control of the .nu domain. 

Meanwhile, there will be another court ruling on the 14th of March next month in Sweden.

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