Nominet Consultation on a revised .uk Registrar Agreement

24 June 2013, Carolyn Kimber

We are today launching a second stage consultation into a revised .uk Registrar Agreement. The current Registrar Agreement is the contract that governs the commercial relationship between Nominet and over 3,700 Registrars who act as the sales channel for the .uk domain names. We are looking for your help to shape a robust Agreement that strengthens our core .uk business, supports Registrant retention rates and the relationship with our Channel, promotes best practice and customer service, and reinforces .uk as trusted, relevant and competitive.

The revised Registrar Agreement seeks to provide a fair and robust contractual framework that serves the needs of the differing business models of our Registrars and rewards best practice. We are also consolidating and clarifying the sanctions that may be applied in response to contractual breaches or systems abuse so that resolution can be sought in a swift and appropriate manner. Nominet’s objective is to finalise a new form of standard contract that will raise standards as well as providing greater choice, prior to the end of the calendar year.

Programme for Evolving the .uk Domain Name Space

We would also like to draw your attention to other policy related initiatives and projects designed to help Nominet evolve the .uk namespace in the face of a rapidly changing internet landscape.

The domain name market is undergoing a major transition, with a new and more competitive market emerging, driven by the introduction of over 1,000 new top level domains from 2014. The .uk namespace is a vital building block for the UK’s digital economy, and Nominet is focusing its efforts on an ambitious programme to secure its long-term relevance and competitiveness. The company has been examining the breadth of the products and services it offers, with security and data-quality increasingly important areas of focus.

Nominet’s agenda for the coming months comprises: a proposed addition to the product range by opening up registrations at the second level of .uk (i.e. www.example.uk); a new contract with registrars aimed at raising standards, and a programme to enhance security across the namespace.

I. Second-level registrations
Following a public consultation last year, Nominet put its initial plans for second-level .uk domain registrations on hold, whilst feedback and suggestions were considered in depth.

Nominet has responded by making significant changes to the original direct.uk proposal. The new proposal for second level registrations will be put forward as a consultation on 1st July 2013. The key elements of the new proposal are:

  • Enhanced checks on data supplied for all registrations.
  • Requirement to have a UK address for service.
  • Right of first refusal - giving registrants of existing .uk domain names at the third level e.g .co.uk, .me.uk and .org.uk etc the right of first refusal to secure the corresponding registration at the second level. In the event of two competing claims, the oldest current registration would be given priority.
  • A commitment to offering services to improve security across the whole namespace.
  • A competitive price point - with a per wholesale domain annual registration fee of around £5 proposed.

The consultation will close at the end of September 2013 and responses will be published in November.

The company still believes that it is a necessary step to keep the namespace competitive alongside the new gTLDs. Combining a shorter suffix with the trust of the ‘.uk’ brand will offer a wider choice for both existing .uk registrants and the millions of consumers and businesses who are not yet online, and now want their own online space.

Nominet sees the revised direct.uk product as an addition to the existing portfolio. The high levels of awareness, recognition and trust associated with the current .uk namespace will continue to be attractive for millions of registrants, and Nominet is committed to offering, supporting and investing in all existing domains, including .co.uk, .me.uk and .org.uk.

II. Enhanced security for all
A trusted namespace is fundamental for the UK digital economy, and the feedback received in Nominet’s earlier direct.uk consultation clearly said that while enhanced security features were desirable and should be promoted, this should not be mandatory, or restricted to one product.

Recognising that there is a broad choice of security products in the marketplace and that one size does not fit all, Nominet is now working to ensure that all security options will be available to all the domain names under its management. Through targeted partnerships and the work of its Research & Development team, it is developing a roadmap of services and products that will help registrants, and particularly small businesses, understand and defend against the threats they face.

Specific announcements on the individual projects will follow soon - please visit www.nominet.org.uk/news for updates.

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