11 Dec 2018

Niue launches legal action in Sweden over internet domain

3:00 pm on 11 December 2018

Niue is suing a Swedish company to take back control of its internet domain and about $US20 million in estimated lost income.

Late night internet addiction or working late man using laptop computer in the dark

Photo: 123rf

The lawsuit against the Swedish Internet Foundation was filed in November in the Stockholm District Court.

The court has not yet decided if it will hear the case.

Niue's Premier, Sir Toke Talagi, posted on social media last week that the lawsuit was complex but worth it because of the large sum of money involved.

Pär Brumark, a lawyer for Niue's government in Copenhagan, said the Swedish Internet Foundation took over Niue's .nu country code Top Level Domain (cc TLD) without consent in 2013.

"What Niue wants is first to get back the money that's basically theirs, and to get the domain back. According to Niue law, it's a national asset of Niue."

In a statement, the Swedish Internet Foundation denies it's breaching any laws or its own charter by administering Niue's domain.

It says since most of the active .nu domain names are registered in Sweden, it's an essential part of Swedish internet infrastructure.

The Swedish Internet Foundation focuses on maintaining and administering .nu in a robust and stable way," the company said in a statement.

"Owners of 400 000 domains, of which 150 000 are located in Sweden, rely on this."

Mr Brumark said the case could be settled within six months, or less if the Foundation agreed to a settlement.

Many countries lost their top level domains during the 1990s and had been unable to get control of them because of the legal costs involved, he said.

"For a small nation like Niue, that could end up being a costly affair to get it back."

According to Mr Brumark's estimates, Niue had missed out on around $US150 million over the past 18 years because it had never had control over its cc TLD.