Sunday, 6 January 2013

Second level .uk domains

There is a proposal by Nominet to allow the registration of second level UK domains, i.e. something.uk rather than something.co.uk, etc. It is a simple idea in principle and consistent with the fact top level domains are opening up, but is it sensible.

I have to say, I checked the nominet site and found Q&A on this, and all sorts, but not the actual detailed proposal. I only checked for a few minutes, but still - why is this not clear?

Firstly, and I am far from the first to point this out, there are separate issues here. Nominet are proposing that the second level domains also come with a load of "security" and "trust' checks that try to give consumer confidence in these domains. The issue of trust in domains and better checking of registrant details is a separate issue from opening the .uk domain to direct registrations.

So, first issue - opening .uk to second level registrations: To be honest I am in two minds on this. I like shorter domains (says someone with the domain e.gg) but I see the issues with diluting the existing registrations and ensuring everyone with any commercial name to protect has to now register yet another version of their domain. There is some sense that a "name" can be global (like, starbucks) and so warrant a top level domain or can be UK specific like us (AAISP) and warrant a .uk domain, but duplicating what we have now is just more work and confuses consumers even more.

If we do open second level domains we need a sunrise period and auction like the two letter .co.uk and so on, but i would think a GB trademark registration should take priority over a non GB registration as we are talking UK domains here. We also want a price just high enough to stop the main domain squatters but be commercially sensible, e.g. £50 not £5 or some such. That's my view, if we think it is sensible anyway. If .uk is for commercial use one would think perhaps .co.uk owners get first choice of .uk, but then surely more restrictive .plc.uk and .ltd.uk and .net.uk should come before them?

The separate issue is the checking of domains in some way to engender trust. This seems odd for any registrar. The idea of adding security is odd. I can slightly see a new domain space demanding DNSSEC perhaps - that simply helps technical improvements in the quality of DNS and is not really an issue. I can see some merit in confirming contact details but I am not sure any postal service is sensible. The postal one could be done by a public enforcement - e.g. anyone reporting invalid contact details gets first refusal to take the domain when deregistered for having invalid details, perhaps. That is my somewhat controversial idea there, but the risk of simply losing a domain would ensure good contact details and the benefit of winning a domain would encourage public scrutiny of contact details for free. Probably possible to work around somehow.

There is an idea of virus scanning a domain. Now this seems crazy for a registry to even consider. Domains and web sites are not the same thing. A domain can be used for any number of things not a web site. There is merit in some verifiable independent checking of a web site but is this the role of a registrar. It is an idea to consider, but not a Nominet issue, surely.

I hear they are also trying to stop selling third level domains which has to be nonsense and unenforceable. I hope to find the definition of this but it is mad.

So, my plan it to try and get my hands on the actual proposal and pull it to bits properly.

8 comments:

  1. Fellow Nominet member here...

    I think Nominet are playing a very dangerous game here; for one thing, by saying that consumers can 'trust' .uk more due to reasons A, B and C means that consumers cannot trust anything under the existing co.uk/org.uk/net.uk/plc.uk/ltd.uk/etc subdomains for those same reasons.

    Making DNSSEC mandatory is a Very Good Thing(tm) but while SLDs under .uk would have this from Day 1, I would hope they would set a date when new registrations in the other SLDs would require DS records to be configured within 24 hours of registration and then a date, several years in the future, which would require existing co.uk/etc registrants to DNSSEC-enable their domains too.

    The bulk of the .uk namespace isn't secured by DNSSEC and co.uk is still going to constitute the majority of it for the foreseeable future.

    I also found the question that they were planning to 'prohibit the sale of subdomains' for any direct.uk registrations quite distasteful - probably because they foresee another uk.com could come from this - if they are going to start policing subdomains, are we really the registrants/owners of our domains in the first place ?

    We are against direct.uk for all of the above reasons plus a few more and have already responded to the proposal.

    There are things I would say about Nominet that I wouldn't say in a public forum for fear of litigation but as an active member of the UK ISP community, I am sure you have heard most of it already - plus, this is your rantspace and not mine :-P

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    1. Phasing in mandatory DNSSEC seems a good idea - yeh. You don't need a 24 hour time frame, simply that you cannot configure NS records without DS, or the delegation on the NS is not in nominets name servers until you have DS records... i.e. it won't work.

      The sub domains thing is crazy, IMHO. I see their concern (uk.com, etc) but that is how domains work and not their job to police sub domains. Banning sale of subdomains is also totally unworkable. I could "sell" you a web site on a subdomain without selling the subdomain. I could even delegate NS records to you for free (i.e. not selling) if you buy my broadband, etc, etc. From a consumer point of view it looks the same.

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  2. I would like them to actually prevent domain squatting by requiring that you have either a business operating, a trademark or an active website directly relevant to the domain actually operating or, and this is stretching it, have something within 12 months of registration of any of the above.

    Then there should not be as much of a domain squatting issue.

    Domain squatting really bugs me and seems to be one reason why companies have extraordinarily stupid made up names now, simply because some sod has squatted on the domain that makes sense and they want a fortune for it.

    And then I get the idiots spamming me saying they "have the .com version of my domain that they will let me have for £1000". Well they can stuff that because I really do not want the .com version of a domain I only registered as a joke!

    Grr.

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    1. Even though I own a lot of domains I do little with at present, I do agree on the domain squatting. It should, IMHO, be a lot easier to resolve than it is now. However a domain is not a web site and I don't think a requirement to have a web site is sensible. And any technical requirement, to make the domain "in use" would be easy to meet for domain squatters anyway.

      I suppose they could do a much lighter weight DRS for cases of domain squatter where the requester simply shows a UK trademark registration that matches, and the current owner fails to show such a registration. The catch now is that DRS costs hundreds, so squatters can demand at least that to sell the domain. A light weight DRS could be as simple as a web form, quoting trademark registration number, and paying £50 or something. No expert required at all.

      Personally I suspect the only answer to widespread squatting is higher prices, sadly. I suspect the answer is these new domains need to be £50/year not £5/year or some such.

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  3. You have impeccable timing - the consultation process either tonight or tomorrow night:

    http://www.nominet.org.uk/how-participate/policy-development/current-policy-discussions-and-consultations/consultation-new-uk

    The suggestion that .uk domain names should be more trusted than .co.uk just seems to be inherently confusing.

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    1. They didn't answer my tweet during the working day asking what time the consultation closed. I sent my response to the consultation at 2355 and the autoreply stated:

      "Following a three month consultation period the deadline for submitting feedback in response to the proposed direct.uk service has now passed. Accordingly the online version of the consultation is no longer active.  As the deadline for feedback has passed if you are emailing us with comments regarding the proposal we cannot offer any guarantee that they will be taken into account."

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  4. In my opinion, opening up .uk for 2LD registrations is bad bad bad. Once it is done, there is no going back. I like having proper segmentation into the country's various organisations. The only reason for doing this can be to make more money. Given that .uk is one of our countries biggest assets, I think this issue should be voted upon. In an ideal world, we could vote on this ourselves, but unfortunately we will have to leave it to our elected representatives.

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  5. my experience of squatters (the ones who take domains that expire in the hope of extorting back to original owner) wont be scared of by a £50 tag, the amount they get from sales is huge eg. one turned down £5000 of me to get a domain back. The domain had little traffic but was a customer's domain I had lost of my own error.

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