Nominet’s evolving Direct.uk 2

Nominet the “private, not-for-profit business, responsible for the smooth and secure running of the .uk internet infrastructure” announced by Press & News releases  yesterday that as part of their “…programme for evolving the .uk domain name space” they are proposing an “ … addition to the product range by opening up registrations at the second level of .uk (i.e. www.example.uk)”. Compared to their previous proposals for Direct.uk they will, subject to consultation, commencing on 1 July, be reducing the, pricing by a factor of 4 and giving “first refusal” to existing registrants at the third level e.g .co.uk, .me.uk and .org.uk etc for the corresponding registration at the second level.

We, by and large, and subject to the devil in the detail, welcome the new proposals but still have concerns about the protection of existing business registrants domain names.

First the proposals in their own words:

“Nominet has responded by making significant changes to the original direct.uk proposal. The new proposal for second level registrations will be put forward as a consultation on July 1st. The key elements of the new proposal are:

  • Enhanced checks on data supplied for all registrations.
  • Requirement to have a UK address for service.
  • Right of first refusal – giving registrants of existing .uk domain names at the third level e.g .co.uk, .me.uk and .org.uk etc the right of first refusal to secure the corresponding registration at the second level. In the event of two competing claims, the oldest current registration would be given priority.
  • A commitment to offering services to improve security across the whole namespace.
  • A competitive price point– with a per wholesale domain annual registration fee of around £5 proposed.

The consultation will close at the end of September 2013 and responses will be published in November.”

On the transparency front we were very pleased to see per their June Board communiqué “The Board further committed to publication of the consultation responses in which the respondent consented to publication once it has had an opportunity to consider all the views expressed.”

A continuing negative we perceive is the unavailability generally of their videos on this topic which we just don’t understand – surely the wider the publication the better. They’ve got a YouTube Channel why not use it! Here’s a link to the page with their latest re their June Agenda!

Click to enlarge

A further positive is the recommencement of their statistics on registrations  and whilst the year to date figures for the first 4 months of the year show a reduction of 1.7% the moving annual total has in the last month or two at least steadied almost for the first time since the start of its decline in mid 2011. We reckon it now stands at 1.97 million.

Now for our concerns which we will return to after further consideration and likely following the publication of their consultation document.

At an overview level we want the process to be aimed at and to benefit all “hard working” company registrants as well as encouraging business startups

Elsewhere, in the video Piers White refers to the right of refusal applying to “Those people who have held a domain name for a long time.” Surely it must apply to virtually all existing registrants – why not?

Again mentioned in their Board  communiqué Nominet state  Subject to consultation feedback, existing registrants would have a six month right of first refusal for the corresponding second level.” We will argue that unless there is agreement of the existing registrant this right should continue in perpetuity.

If our arguments fail then we believe additional security measures should apply to any applicant applying for any existing registrants corresponding domain with draconian measures for any infringement of the rules.

With the proposed rights of existing registrants Nominet presumably will involve them ALL (together with the wider internet community in general) in both this consultation and the eventual issue using all possible means including appropriate high profile media advertising  and we would suggest actively supported by HMG.

Interesting times for the UK domain space!

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