I know, silly title, especially related to Nominet address checking. Anyone that deals with Nominet will be used to them being a tad strange.
However, we had a somewhat surreal conversation with them yesterday over a domain we were registering.
To put it in to context, Nominet are now trying to ensure the registrant details for domains are "correct". This is part of the new .uk level domain registration process. However, checking details are "correct" is not simple! It kind of brings me back to my discussions on "legal entities", but more so.
- A domain could be registered by someone anywhere in the world (though a UK service address is needed for .uk domains). The rules on "legal entities" and means to check those vary from country to country. It would be almost impossible for Nominet to check many of these.
- Even just considering the UK, an individual does not have to be traceable. I.e. it is quite valid for a registrant to not be on the electoral role; not have any utility bills in their name,; not have a driving licence; and not have a passport, especially if young and living with parents. Even so, they still are a perfectly "valid" person with a perfectly "valid" UK address. The only real way to check such details is to post something to the address and check it arrived. I have no idea if Nominet do that.
- There are, of course, various other types of legal entity that could be more complex, but most come back to the issue with an "Individual" who is responsible, so the same problem as above.
- However, there is one type of registrant for which it is very very simple: UK registered companies. A UK company has a name, company number, and service address that are all public record and available to be checked from companies house on their web site. Checking the basic details for a UK registered company is very simple.
Alex called Nominet. They confirmed on the phone that he was the contact (checked name and email used), and he checked and confirmed that he had not mistyped the company number, name or address and that Nominet had all of the right details. The guy on the phone was happy to sort this out whilst on the phone, yay!
He did explain that Nominet do not have a direct link for checking companies and as it was a new company then that is why it was flagged as invalid. That, in itself, seems odd as I am sure companies house have such services. Indeed, register a company, and you have spam post the next day from people that use such services. Why don't Nominet have a proper link in to companies house?
Anyway, this is then where it got a tad odd. Having confirmed that this is, indeed, as per the registration details recorded, a UK limited company; and that the company name, number, and address were right, you would think that would be the end of it. It means Nominet can check the details independently at companies house - something that takes seconds.
First off he asked Alex to email a reply, while on the phone, with a link to the details on companies house. This seems odd - and time consuming - compared to just typing an 8 digit number in to their web site. It is also slightly open to abuse as Alex could have sent a link that looked like companies house but was not. However, if you have ever used the companies house web site then you will know that the details for a company are not on a simple link / URL.
At this point, if it was me, I would have emailed http://companieshouse.gov.uk/ to him and said click company information and type the company number... But Alex carefully explained the inability to do a direct URL.
So the guy from Nominet then insisted that what Alex does is take a screen shot, put it in a pdf and email it.
WHAT?!?!?! [a phrase I am having to type rather a lot on my blog lately]
What exactly would he do with this screen shot? Surely the only possibly thing he could do is check it. The only way to check it is to go to the companies house web site, type the company number, and see that it looks the same, having checked the screen shot matches the registered details for the domain. Surely it would save time and effort for all to just do that in the first place. Of course, if he is not going to do that, then Alex could, very easily, fake the screen shot.
Alex explained all of this, but to no avail. A screen shot had to be emailed!
It does remind me of RIPE who have the same problem, and wanted a copy of the company certificate for something. They eventually accepted a screen shot of companies house (which could have easily been faked, just like a certificate). At least RIPE have the excuse of being in a different country and so perhaps not knowing how UK companies work.
Well done Nominet - you have unlocked the achievement [Pointless extra bureaucracy]