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Plans for ‘.uk’ domain names announced as alternative to ‘.co.uk’

Nominet, the not-for-profit organisation responsible for running the .uk infrastructure, has launched a consultation on the introduction of a new service which, if approved, would herald a significant change for the .uk domain name space.

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The proposed new service is aimed at businesses and would potentially offer shorter domain names registered at the second level (i.e. www.yourbusiness.uk) as well as one of the most comprehensive package of security features available. It would sit alongside the existing .uk portfolio, including .co.uk which already has more than 10 million domains registered.

The move follows the introduction of .brand domain names last year, which divided opinion amongst brands and marketers due to potential issues over cybersquatting and extra costs. However, extra domains also offer an opportunity for brands to enhance both its SEO strategy and defend against online counterfeit operations.

Key proposed features of the new service, and areas of focus for the consultation include:

• Enhanced security capabilities, including routine monitoring and notification to registrants of viruses and malware, as well as a digital signature known as DNSSEC which minimises the risks of a domain name being hijacked. Under the proposals, domain names affected by malware would be suspended if registrants fail to take action to rectify those issues.

• A verified UK presence requirement for registrants in order to be eligible for the new domains.

• A staged release process for the domains, with registered rights holders’ applications considered in the first phase, then unregistered rights holders. All those using existing .co.uk, .org.uk etc domain names would be granted unregistered rights under the proposed plans.

• The new domains would potentially be sold via registrars that can meet the required data quality and service levels.

The consultation will remain open for three months, to secure feedback from key stakeholders and ensure that the final proposition will meet the needs of businesses, boost trust in the .uk namespace, and contribute positively to Britain’s fast-growing internet economy.

The consultation period on the draft policy starts today and remains open until 7 January 2013. The full consultation document and list of questions for response are available at www.nominet.org.uk/go/directuk. Any stakeholders interested in contributing should email responses to direct@nominet.org.uk.

“With the UK internet economy estimated to be worth £121 billion and increasing, the matters of security, ease of use, and choice are becoming ever more important,” says Lesley Cowley, CEO of Nominet. “This new secure domain space would boost the growth of the UK internet economy. We are aware that it represents a significant change to the landscape of the.uk internet and we are committed to taking all points of view on board.”

For further information on the .uk policy process, please visit www.nominet.org.uk/policy/ or contact the Secretariat - policy@nominet.org.uk.

Comments
Edwin Hayward commented:

Looks like you've been duped by the Nominet hype machine (you're not alone, most of the mainstream press has fallen for it as well since out of 51 recent articles, only 2 mentioned the key issue even in passing).

The elephant in the room of this proposal is the fact that .co.uk registrants won't be given priority to get the matching .uk domains. This despite the fact that Nominet has been promoting .co.uk as the best address for businesses since 1996, and continue to do so right now in parallel with their .uk consultation.

Nominet stand to rake in at least £50,000,000 from the initial .uk launch, or more than twice their 2011 revenue from domain registrations. This is going to come straight out of the pockets of UK businesses, and will be seen by many as another example of a "stealth tax".

In their proposal, they've ignored the experience of every other country (12 countries in all have undergone a similar third level to second level domain transition in the past) by pretending that ".uk" is somehow completely new and different, divorced from the existing .co.uk namespace.

I have published a 26-page position paper filled with stats and data that shows exactly how Nominet is damaging business interests by its current proposal. It can be downloaded from http://www.mydomainnames.co.uk/ and I would urge all .co.uk owners to do so before it's too late to do anything about it!

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