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Nominet signs up to ICANN

And joins ccNSO too.

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In a hugely significant move, .uk registry Nominet has signed up to internet overseeing organisation ICANN and put to bed a historic battle between the US not-for-profit company and managers of country-specific internet domains.

The decision to go through with an "exchange of letters" where ICANN recognises Nominet as the owner of the .uk registry and Nominet recognises ICANN as the global technical body of the internet follows a decision by the ICANN Board to give ccTLDs greater autonomy within ICANN.

Nominet has been a historic critic of ICANN and as the fourth largest registry in the world following .com, .de and .net, its decision carries significant weight. In a separate but related decision, Nominet has also decided to join the supporting organisation specifically set aside for country-code top-level domains within ICANN, the ccNSO.

Since its inception, the ccNSO has been dogged with questions over its legitimacy since only a very few countries have ever joined. But Nominet's decision to bite the bullet is likely to see dozens more countries sign up. It is notable, however, that the most powerful country code domain, Germany's .de, has exchanged letters with ICANN but so far declined to join the ccNSO and, its technical director Sabine Dolderer told us there was currently no intention to do so.

Nominet's decision came only after the board approved a resolution on Friday at its meeting in Marrakech which will see the ccNSO given greater rights over what happens to country-code domains within ICANN.

The resolution was a compromise reached by ICANN, as indeed is the exchange of letters, which provide no binding legal contract. For many years, ICANN attempted to pressure countries into signing an official contract with it, even delaying vital administrative changes in an effort to force people into signing.

Such strong-arm tactics backfired, however, and after years of consultation, the exchange of letters compromise was reached. Nominet is now the seventh registry in just the past two months to sign up to ICANN, and many more are now also expected to follow the same route following Denic and Nominet's lead.

ICANN's CEO Paul Twomey said of the agreement: "This has reinforced the continuing momentum of ICANN and its ever strengthening relationships with registries." He added that he expected the agreement to "pay dividends in increasing confidence" among ccTLD owners. Nominet CEO Lesley Cowley said: "While there is still work to do, we are confident things are moving in the right direction." ®

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