UK Internet registry Nominet has temporarily halted plans to create a shorter ‘.uk’ domain name as an alternative to the current ‘.co.uk’ in the face of disagreement about the benefits and cost.
Nominet’s press release on the matter sidesteps most of this, saying only that “there was not a consensus of support for the direct.uk proposals as presented.”
Under the plan, organisations would pay a higher fee in return for being able to register domains using the second-level 'xyz.uk' rather than the current third-level 'xyz.co.uk'.
A primary concern expressed by stakeholders (i.e. interested parties including in theory members of the public) was that the current holders of .co.uk domains would have no guarantee of obtaining the .uk equivalents.
Worse still, because one of the proposed benefits of the .uk domains was improved security in the form of Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) domain verification, many businesses would find themselves compelled to move to the .uk domain in order to maintain a credible Internet presence.
In short, which business would want to continue using a .co.uk domain when the .uk domain would offer the sort of guarantees against criminality that customers would start demanding?
“The objective of raising trust/security was welcomed, but many disagreed with the proposed approach, suggesting that standards should be raised across the whole of the namespace,” said Nominet.
To many it looked like too uncertain a return for fees running to £40 per registration, including the margin added by resellers, which cynical commentators have complained has always looked like a gigantic money-making exercise for the industry.
What does appear to have been well received was the principle of domain validation to stop foreign criminals using .co.uk domains to masquerade as genuine UK-based businesses.
Nominet had also proposed being a lot fussier about which registrars are allowed to sell domains; the current market is more or less a free-for-all which is where abuses started.
The .uk domain has not gone away, and Nominet said it would revise its plans and return with an improved design in time for its June meeting.
This would include better security across the whole UK namespace and perhaps some modification of the pricing model, it said.
Note: Governments have been able to use second-level domains for some time. Nominet's proposal relates to their wider ommercial sale.