Nominet puts the brakes on 'direct.uk' proposal
Nominet, the ‘.uk’ domain name registry, has confirmed that it will not be moving forward with the proposed launch of its 'direct.uk' service.
At the end of last year Nominet opened a three-month public consultation period regarding its proposals for ‘direct.uk’, which were focused on the introduction of domain name registrations at the second level directly under the top-level domain (TLD) ‘.uk’. Domain name registrations in this new name space would be available only to UK-based businesses and the proposals sought to introduce:
- the verification of registrant's WHOIS details;
- mandatory DNSSEC; and
- the monitoring of the domain name space for malware and viruses.
Nominet's public consultation sought input from interested parties on the proposed ‘direct.uk’ service and each of the proposed features of the service, namely:
- the increased security aspects;
- the verification of registrant contact data;
- the concept of reserved names;
- the proposed phased launch mechanism;
- registrar participation; and
- the potential impact on domain name registrations under extensions such as ‘.co.uk’.
The public consultation closed in January 2013 and the findings were discussed by the Nominet board at the end of February 2013. As a result of these discussions, it was decided not to proceed with the launch of ‘direct.uk’ as outlined in the initial Nominet proposal. The analysis of the feedback submitted showed that, while many contributors felt that the possibility of domain name registrations directly under ‘.uk’ was a welcome move, there were serious reservations about the method for the introduction of such domain name registrations, particularly with regard to the phased release and the priority given to trademark holders over existing domain name registrants under ‘.co.uk’ and ‘.org.uk’.
Concerns were also raised over the potential creation of a two-tier ‘.uk’ domain name space with the implementation of mandatory DNSSEC, monitoring for malware and viruses and verification of registrant's WHOIS details as part of the ‘direct.uk’ service. Commentators felt that this would undermine consumer confidence in the existing domain name registrations under ‘.co.uk’ and ‘.org.uk’ by giving the impression that domain name registrations under these extensions were less secure for online transactions and e-commerce.
One suggestion put forward was to make the proposed security measures available across the whole of the ‘.uk’ domain name space, with all registrants being given the opportunity to opt to provide enhanced security for their domain names and thus demonstrate their commitment to a safer and more secure online environment.
Nominet has undertaken to review the feedback received and to see if it will be possible to create an amended proposal that will achieve the goals of "of increasing trust and security and maintaining the relevance of the ‘.uk’ proposition in a changing landscape". Nominet intends to revisit the ‘direct.uk’ service at their June 2013 board meeting. A further public consultation period would be held in advance of any final decision.
David Taylor and Daniel Madden, Hogan Lovells LLP, Paris
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