[update: my post below is a tad confrontational, and itself somewhat knee jerk. Alex Bligh has produced a much better worded article on why this is so wrong]
Well, we have always been very keen to promote .uk domains managed by Nominet. The contract was always very clear, the domain owner was protected from stupidities of the ISP they were using, the registration process was quick and easy, and the prices were sensible. We liked UK domains and supported Nominet.
But to be honest the extent with which Nominet are colluding with big brother is now making me very concerned.
The latest news suggests proposals that any .uk domain where there are "reasonable grounds to believe they are being used to commit a crime" such as "a request from an identified UK Law Enforcement Agency" could be instantly suspended.
This is mental!
Many popular .uk domains are used to commit a crime. You can guarantee that someone somewhere has used google.co.uk in some way to commit a crime. And of course, hotmail.co.uk will have been used to commit a crime every time anyone sends an email that someone in the country could find menacing (even if the recipient does not).
Bear in mind that many company web sites still fail to include all of the correct details as required by the Companies Act 2009 - that's a crime, so all of those domains could be instantly taken down stopping not only the companies web site but their email and any other services using the domain which could even include their phones these days!
You may think I am being silly here - but when we have a system that can convict someone of a joke on twitter, you realise that perhaps I am not. It's a good thing that twitter don't use a UK domain or proposed laws like this could have taken twitter down completely. You have the crazy situation where someone could complain that an email they got could have been menacing to some hyperthetical older couple and that means the domain used for the email could be suspended as it is used to commit a crime.
Bear in mind the police do not want to investigate and prosecute these frivolous crimes, so requesting Nominet take the domain down would be a quick and easy way of dealing with a complaint from the public.
It is like saying that BT should turn off a whole telephone exchange if anyone uses one of the lines to commit a crime. The implications of suspending a domain can be much more far reaching than just a web page.
Of course some people with no clue (such as many politicians) will wonder why I am ranting on this - surely this is a good thing as it helps stop criminal activity. If they really think that some web site that the establishment don't like will go away because their domain is suspended, they are totally round the bend. The fitwatch example given, using a UK domain to point to a US site would simply be on a .com domain, or a .cx domain or any number of other domains around the world - or better still on a direct IP address URL. I have already said how the whole concept of domain names is diluted now, with people using twitter and facebook namespaces as well as saying "search for xxx". So many people are not using domains now. Changing a web site from one domain to another has effect as fast as the search engines pick it up. So this suggestion is pointless.
Like so many uninformed knee jerk reactions, it has no effect on any crinimals but has huge scope to damage letitimate domain users and companies. Actually, no effect is not true - it creates publicity for the criminals.
If Nominet go ahead with this then we'll stop doing free UK domains with our DSL and start recommending customers use other registries. Nominet should be explaining the complete futility of such proposals not agreeing with them.
I'd love to hear Nominet's side on this one. Lets hope this is just bad reporting and I am wrong about this.
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