A little while ago I got an email about this and was puzzled, not only that it was a chargeable service, or the disproportionately high cost, but also that it seems to be targeted at the registrars and not the registrants.
It looks like a lock that stops certain things, like change of DNS or registrant details, unless/until unlocked. It looks like the unlocking is done by the registrar. I would have expected locking to be tied to a 2FA that is known only to the registrant, but reading it, that does not seem to be the case.
The email explained, if I remember correctly, that the idea was to stop any risk of things changing without authorisation. That is odd, as surely any unauthorised change would mean someone was being negligent (possibly Nominet) and that the change can be quickly corrected.
It also does not seem to protect against DNS injection attacks, etc. This is something DNSSEC should do, and is something Nominet do not charge for.
As a registrar, we have ability (acting on our customer's authority) to make changes to a domain. There is the risk that our security checks are not good and we take instructions to make a change from someone that is not the registrant. We are careful, obviously. We have actually added two factor authentication to our systems (free of charge) to help our customers have the assurance that we would not fall for such scams. But having 2FA from us to nominate seems like a pointless step, if we lacked good security, we'd take bogus instructions, unlock the domain, make the change, and lock it again.
Indeed, one of the assurances registrants have at present is that, if they fall out with their chosen registrar, they can go to Nominet to change registrar and details on the domain directly for a fee. This means rogue registrars cannot hold people to ransom in any way. The domain locking feature seems to undermine that - as there cannot be any way to bypass the registrars domain lock by pleading to Nominet, obviously. If that was possible then it would make this service useless.
So I asked Nominet, listing some of the ways a domain could be changed without authority of the registrant or registrar... I really struggle to find many where Nominet would not already be negligent to allow such a change. But I asked about...
- If the police ask for a domain to be shut down (I say "ask" as I am not sure proper legal authority to do so always exists or that they always present it in such cases)
- If some copyright related notice requests a domain to be shut down
- A court orders nominate to change DNS or other details
- If someone takes a case to DRS and the registrant loses the case and domain ownership is to be transferred
- If the registrar does not pay Nominet fees and the domain becomes overdue
Of course, if the registrar stops paying the domain lock fees, does it automatically unlock too?
Can a company that has the responsibility for the integrity of a database really say "that's a nice domain, it would be a pity if someone was to make an unauthorised change to it, wouldn't it?" and start asking for such a large sum to do its job and protect the integrity of the database?
Have I missed the point of this "service" somehow? Maybe someone can explain the logic here...