Plans for shorter ‘.uk’ address returns despite claims of confusion

21/11/2013

Domain name registry Nominet has announced plans to introduce ‘.uk’ address as a shorter alternative to ‘.co.uk’, despite previous claims that the move would cause confusion.

Nominet had previously postponed the idea after accepting it would confuse people, but after making some changes and carrying out a second consultation it said it now planned to proceed.

The decision will affect more than 10 million customers who currently use domains ending in .uk when it begins in the middle of next year.

Nominet's French and German equivalents have already carried out a similar move.

Nominet has extended the amount of time its customers have to decide whether they want to pay for a shorter name before it will be offered to others.

The original plan was to offer a six-month "first dibs" window, but the right-of-refusal period will now last up to five years.

Nominet acknowledges there is still the "theoretical risk" of confusion among the general public.
For example, people might become confused about which domain name to use in emails, leading some messages to be misdirected.

The move comes as Icann (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is in the process of creating about 1,400 new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). These include creating addresses ending in .camera, .singles and .london. There had previously been only 22, including .com and .net.

Some of the new ones are in non-Latin scripts. Among those already approved are شبكة. - the Arabic equivalent of .web - and 游戏 - the Chinese for .game.

Although Nominet is a non-profit organisation, it was worried that Icann's move meant it would lose business.

"Absent any credible competitive strategy, Nominet would be bound to lose significant market share in the future," the organisation said in a statement.

"We also note that the benefits of maintaining .uk relevance accrue not just to Nominet or its registrars but to all users of the .uk namespace who benefit from the high profile and positive perception of .uk."

One other change to the original plan is that applicants will no longer have to have a verified UK presence in order to qualify.

This had initially been proposed to help ensure consumers had a "high level of confidence" in sites that had switched to the shorter name.

However, fears that this would be too stringent mean the rule has been relaxed, and applicants will now only need to have a physical address in the country that the police or others can use to reach them.

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