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Nominet resurrects second-level namespace plan: 'Before you say no...'

Businesses rejected previous consultation

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Dot-UK registry Nominet has bounced back with another effort to bring second-level namespaces to life, after the Oxford-based company's previous proposal was largely greeted with indifference by Blighty businesses.

Now the outfit is once again pushing to introduce a shorter suffix imbued with what it described as "the trust of the '.uk' brand', after Nominet revised its original plan.

Last year's proposal was scuppered because 800 respondents from UK firms said they had little appetite for what was on offer. Businesses also said at the time that the consultation process had been confusing.

Nominet, however, is keen to bring in a new second level domains policy to "keep the namespace competitive alongside the introduction of over 1,000 new top level domains from 2014."

Presently, .co.uk is the most popular suffix used by British companies followed by .org.uk. As things stand, anyone wishing to use .uk domains can only do so by registering them at the third level.

Nominet wants to change this - paving the way for domains such as direct.uk. But one of the problems revealed in analysis of last autumn's responses to the consultation was that placing .uk alongside co.uk addresses could prove confusing for Brit consumers. All of which led to an overwhelmingly negative rejection of the plans.

In a move to try to convince those respondents to embrace .uk domain name registrations, the privately held, not-for-profit outfit is opening up its revised plan to yet another consultation process.

As one Register reader observed:

Is this like the Ireland Euro referendum, if you don't get the answer you want, keep asking until you do?

Nominet, of course, paints things differently.

Its boss Lesley Cowley said that the company had listened to the criticism and added that "the revised proposal is significantly different as a result".

She continued:

We believe this is the right step to safeguard the long-term relevance of the .uk namespace in the face of unprecedented competition. By attracting more consumers and businesses to a trusted and reliable online home, we can continue to make a strong contribution to the thriving UK digital economy.

But we are determined to harness the views of stakeholders so that, if we proceed, we do so in a way that is fair and practical.

Nominet will now run its latest consultation process until 23 September, with responses to the plan being published in November, after its board has scrutinised the submissions.

Here are the key tweaks in the company's rejigged proposal:

  • We have changed the proposed method for validation and verification.
  • We have removed the proposed requirement for a ‘UK presence’ and replaced this with a proposed requirement to provide a UK address for service.
  • In addition the opportunity to validate and verify contact details would be available for all third level registrants.
  • We have replaced the phases from the proposed release process with a revised release mechanism that prioritises existing .uk registrations in the current space. This removes the need for an auction to determine between competing rights.
  • We are proposing a registration fee that is competitive with other gTLDs such as .com; and
  • [w]e have removed the proposed requirement for mandatory DNSSEC, malware monitoring and the trustmark. We will now focus on developing a Security Road Map that improves security across the entire .uk namespace.

Nominet's consultation and background documents are here (PDF) and here (PDF). ®

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