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Nominet ushers in new era for .uk namespace

Oxford, UK – 20 November 2013: Nominet, the internet company best known for running the .uk internet infrastructure, today announces updates on a range of new initiatives and projects designed to help the company evolve the .uk namespace and improve standards in the face of a rapidly changing internet landscape, as first outlined in June 2013. These are:

  1. The introduction of second level domain names in the .uk namespace – for the first time, shorter, simpler ‘example.uk’ domain names will be available alongside ‘example.co.uk’, ‘example.org.uk’ and so on.
  2. The development of initiatives that will enhance the security of the UK namespace, and contribute to the security of the web as a whole.
  3. A revised draft of the Registrar Agreement, which rewards those meeting highest standards of service, is now published and open for comment.
  4. A proposed Data Quality policy – the company’s first – has been published and is open for comment.

Nominet CEO Lesley Cowley comments: “In an industry that is seeing an unprecedented level of change with the upcoming introduction of over a thousand new top level domains, we’re hard at work to ensure innovation in .uk keeps UK web users and businesses ahead of the curve. At the same time, we’re holding ourselves to a higher standard – expanding the choices available to our customers, upping the bar for security, data quality and the way we engage with our registrars to ensure everyone registering, managing or visiting a website with a domain ending in .uk can be proud to be part of a strong, trusted community.”

Second Level Domains

The UK’s favourite internet namespace is expanding, with Nominet approving plans to offer registrations directly before the ‘dot’ in .uk. From summer 2014, shorter, simpler ‘example.uk’ domain names will be available, representing the biggest modification of the .uk namespace since it began.

Any unique ‘example.uk’ domain name (e.g. one that does not have an equivalent name already registered as a .co.uk or a .org.uk) will be available on a first-come, first served basis from launch.

Over ten million existing .uk customers will be offered the shorter equivalent of their current address, with five years to decide whether they want to use it in addition to, or instead of the domain they already have.

In the small proportion of instances where there could be competition – e.g. where one person holds example.co.uk and another holds example.org.uk – the shorter domain will be offered to the .co.uk registrant. 

The wholesale price for the new domains will be £3.50 per year for single year registrations and £2.50 per year for multi-year registrations. This is the same price as a current co.uk domain, ensuring the cost of a domain name will remain a very small proportion (around 1.5% for a small business) of the cost of being online.

All Nominet’s existing domains (.co.uk, .org.uk, .net.uk, .me.uk, .plc.uk, .ltd.uk and .sch.uk) will continue to run as normal.

Nominet is planning a major programme of communication and outreach with its customers to ensure people are aware of the changes, and intends to announce a definitive launch date by February 2014.

More information is available here.

Security across the .uk namespace

Nominet is focused on developing new techniques and technologies to make the .UK namespace the most trusted in the world. 

The company is focusing on offering increased security in the management and registration of domain names.

In Q1 2014, Nominet will be launching new tools to help our registrars further enhance the security of their domain portfolios, including a domain-locking tool to protect high value domains from social-engineering attacks. 

From Q2 2014, we will also be offering registrars the opportunity to adopt additional security controls when accessing Nominet’s registry systems, to give the domains they manage a stronger second line of defence against hacking.

Nominet is also exploring ways to work alongside others in the internet community to help businesses address the increasing challenge of cyber-security and take advantage of opportunities to build a trusted online presence.

Work is underway to develop a tool aimed at helping anybody who has a .uk web presence identify when security-related issues are adversely affecting their domain, with a view to encouraging the take up of additional website security features. 

A separate initiative is exploring how Nominet can work alongside others in the internet community to offer practical help to small businesses concerned about cyber-security.

Finally, we have developed a data visualization and analysis tool to assess the behaviour of the domain name system.  This has already helped prevent a global exploit of the domain name system and Nominet hopes to deploy this technology in a number of ways to help keep the internet safe.

Registrar Agreement

The Registrar Agreement is the contractual basis on which Nominet deals with all of its registrars, from organisations who manage a portfolio of their own domains to businesses who sell domain names to end users.

By updating the agreement, Nominet aims to recognise the diversity of business models, help registrants have a positive customer experience, and ensure the data the registry holds is of the highest quality. Accordingly, the Registrar Agreement offers an ‘accredited’ status for those that meet higher quality standards.

A final draft of Nominet’s new Registrar Agreement has been published with amendments based on consultation feedback. These include a new, clear policy regarding Nominet’s commitment and expectations around data quality, as well as a decision not to introduce tag fees at this time.

Registrars and other interested stakeholders are invited to submit comments by 20 December 2013.

The final version of the agreement is expected to be agreed in early 2014 and registrars will then be given 30 days notice before it comes into force. Nominet will provide comprehensive support over a six-month period to help registrars move across to the new model. 

Data Quality

As part of Nominet’s ongoing commitment to raising the standard of information held for .uk registrations, a proposed data quality policy has been published. It sets out data quality requirements and commitments for Nominet and its registrars moving forward.

Anyone interested in this issue is invited to give their feedback on the proposed policy by 20 December 2013. Feedback will be published (where permission has been granted) in the New Year.

Visit www.nominet.org.uk/news for further updates in the weeks and months ahead.

© Nominet UK 2012-2014