.UK Feedback – SLD proposals


The English Chapter of the Internet Society (www.internetsociety.org.uk) thanks the members, board and staff of Nominet UK for the invitation to comment on their important proposal for substantial changes to the management of the UK domain name system known as direct.uk.

The Society has conducted a consultation of its own members which is summarised below.


In this paper we shall be touching on the following:

      Double registration of domains


      Trademark Issues


      Loss of Hierarchy


      Is .uk in UK?


      Lack of justification for proposal


      Operational Risk


      DNSSEC Adoption


      Legality under Digital Economy Act 2010


    Second level UK Domain Policy

Double-registering of domain name space

Some members think direct.uk has the potential for making domain names shorter.

However there is considerable concern that current holders of .co.uk and .xx.uk (where xx is a second level domain) are affected negatively in two ways:

Legitimate added value of active domains can be affected negatively. For registrants, this introduces a need to register a second level domain themselves for an additional fee, should they wish to safeguard their invested trade.

This is seen very negatively as being motivated by Nominet looking to sell more domain
names to organisations having already registered under .uk via the current second level domains.

Secondly, registrants of active .co.uk domains have invested in their online branding, search engine listings and other directory services. Some search engines prioritise listings by keywords found in domain names under higher levels of the domain name system, i.e. second level before third level.

As commercial entities they are likely to view entries in direct.uk as potential passing off opportunities and will wish to register themselves in direct.uk as well. Those who succeed will end up paying twice for no added benefit compared to prior to introduction of direct .uk registrations. Those who do not register under direct.uk will end up risking confusion in their online brand.

Trademark Issues

How will Nominet ensure trademarks are managed for direct.uk, in particular where there are trademarks across different classes held by different entities with one holding the mark in .co.uk and others wishing to register in direct.uk?

Loss of Hierarchy

Concerns are being raised that the UK Namespace which until now is well ordered with second level domains (such as .org.uk, .gov.uk, .ac.uk, .co.uk etc. ) representing distinctive communities will lose the ability to discern whether a domain originated from an educational establishment, government or a company as the current second level domain service indicates. This blurring of lines was seen as not favouring the public interest.

But with proposed direct.uk second level domains looking to have special security status, the clear hierarchy appears to be reversed – the non- hierarchical name-space being counter-intuitively marketed as “better” protected. How will direct.uk distinguish security policies for SLDs from new direct domains so that the market is not confused in the UK or

Is .uk in UK?

While recognising the urgency of the need to give greater confidence that the use of .uk means that the registrant is subject to UK law, the status today is that residency of .uk services cannot be determined. Clearly some work needs to be done in order to clarify this situation. ISOC England is willing to work with interested parties into future consultations to explore and establish potential solutions for this matter.

In the meantime, it is widely believed even by a “security expert” on the BBC Today Program in late November 2012 that a .uk domain means the site is in the UK.

The uncertainty this imposes on users suggests there is a need to give greater confidence of what jurisdiction a service using .uk is operating. Direct uk does not appear to offer a solution to this issue.

How can Nominet correct this false impression for .uk when it is promoting
direct.uk domains as having a UK physical contact address but with no guarantee of UK resident Internet services? Can Nominet explain how a postal mail PIN delivery process adds value for direct.uk domains and will not continue to confuse the market? Will users really distinguish between the values of a .co.uk? a .ltd.uk and a direct.uk domain?

Lack of justification for proposal

Nominet has not justified why direct registrations under .uk are needed. The security mechanisms could just as easily be provided under a new or existing SLD such as ltd.uk or plc.uk which are both low volume and limited community managed zones.

Operational Risk

Is it the role of a ccTLD operator to offer such services as malware scanning on third party networks and so forth?

Nominet has not shown why as a ccTLD operator it should be both delegated authority for domain of .uk AND the regulator of the .uk Register AND now add further roles in regulating content and services of devices on other networks which may resolve for direct.uk domains as well as others.

DNS resolution is a best effort service on the Internet. However malware scanning of third party devices implies quality of service metrics and so could be open to substantial risk of damages. Such damages could arise from any part of the world, from users, from registrars, from
network operators, from registrants or service providers. It could arise from faulty scans, damage caused by scans or where scans were legitimately blocked by local providers and expectations of users of “security” were falsely raised.

Risk of legal action from non best effort services would be a substantial change in the business model and Risk for .uk.

We should note that the increase in risk from litigation for damages from anywhere in the world could be so substantial as to weaken the robustness of the .uk Domain Name System as a whole including existing SLDs.

How can Nominet justify adding such unquantifiable risks within the operations of a private sector entity operating as a ccTLD registry for the UK?

DNSSEC Adoption

Security of the .uk domain space and its reputation can be improved substantially through the adoption of DNSSEC. In 2010 the Nominet board signed .uk on behalf of all .uk but into 2013 take up by service providers, registrars, and users remains low.

More work and investment is needed in the UK to seed research and services to improve awareness, tools, training and infrastructure support for DNSSEC for all .uk domains.

The opportunity exists to expand security for all .uk domains using DNSSEC and it is questionable policy to restrict emphasis for security to direct.uk domains.

How will the direct.uk project avoid being a distraction to a key priority of promoting DNSSEC security services for all .uk domains?

Compatibility with Digital Economy Act 2010

Would Nominet’s proposed move to make registrations directly under .uk make implementation of the Digital Economy Act 2010 Sections 19, 20 and 21 by the Government more complicated and costly?


Second level UK Domain Policy

direct.uk has put current SLD policy as of March 2004 in disarray irrespective of outcome of consultation. http://www.uksld.org.uk/page/procedure.html

It is not clear following direct.uk proposal how community-led SLDs are intended to be established and function under .uk going forward.

As a reminder:

.co.uk, .ltd.uk, .me.uk, .net.uk, .nic.uk, .org.uk, .plc.uk and .sch.uk are managed by Nominet UK.
.gov.uk, .mil.uk, .ac.uk, .mod.uk, .nhs.uk, .parliament.uk, .police.uk, .bl.uk, .british-library.uk, .jet.uk and .nls.uk are not.

Implementation Phase

Some contributions from ISOC England members make suggestions about implementation phase – and these may be premature. One example is for the direct.uk proposal to preserve the rights of the current .co.uk users by providing the second level domain registration at a discounted cost-recovery basis fee to current holders of the third level registrations. Alternatively, current third level registrations could be kept in a “reserved” list so as for second level registrations to avoid clashing.

Should direct .uk move towards implementation, the complexity and uncertainties so far raised indicate that a fresh outreach consultation will be needed.


In conclusion, the English chapter of the Internet Society urges caution regarding the direct.uk proposals. In the absence of consensus for direct .uk and in view of the risk to stability of uk domain name system the conclusion is NOT to implement direct .uk plans to shorten domains as proposed.

Should the proposed security mechanisms be justified they could just as easily be provided under a new or existing SLD such as ltd.uk or plc.uk which are both low volume and limited community managed zones.This would be more consistent with the well established management of the UK domain name space.

Stability and Security of Internet services is an important priority for users. The chapter would prefer enhanced support for the deployment of core Internet protocols that can provide users across the whole of .uk with improved security such as DNSSEC. The benefits of malware scanning as proposed do not appear to be core to ccTLD operations nor likely to be dependable for users.

28 replies on “.UK Feedback – SLD proposals”

Dear Olivier,
First of all, sorry for late comments.
Idea is good idea. It will make more useful .uk domains than .co.uk
For commercial users it is necessary to have shorter domain names.

I want to share my comments on the Direct.uk and direct.com.uk. As a result of the small searching over internet some countries are using it like that. Both type of domain names such as xxxx.uk and xxxx.co.uk are in use. but it represents two different domain name. I think they want to see “let use and see the results of the system”. the fare policy over the domain name is same as before. I think two type off address could be use, like the other countries and the domain name fare policy must be the same as before. so that It does not make any problem.


I thank you for sharing your draft response to changes suggested by Nominet.

I am neither a UK citizen or operate a UK business, however I do have an opinion on this.

One day I would like to see the internet universally free. I understand for those who wish to maintain a presence on the web through a domain that there is a fee associated with that.
I have been around the net for over 25 years and have seen it grown to a point where it is only limited by the servers, the cables and users.

I really would like to know who regulates these companies, we have “Webnames” here in Canada and you have Nominet, but although these companies are in the business to make money, changes made to domain names or extensions would damage branding and would have a financial impact on registrants under the .co.uk domain registration.

I don’t believe in people buying domain names and parking them, that might just be me, but it black mail to some established businesses who are now looking for an online presence.

The current domain system in the UK should remain the same with the only change in extra steps to ensure the registrant is a UK resident or at the minimal operating a physical business in the UK and not just a domain.

Keep up the great work, if there is anything I can do to assist in anyway, do not hesitate in asking.

Randy McKeown

Dear Olivier,

Thank you for the draft, and thank you for the work you have put into this.

I agree with the bottom line that Nominet should do more to better manage the existing domain name structure instead of introducing a new level with new risks.

In particular, I have a concern that any attempt by them to restrict registration under the new scheme to applicants with a UK postal address will immediately be challenged by the EU because I believe that is unlawful under EU law. But, I’m not a lawyer!

Many thanks,


A good summary of the issue, and a sensible recommendation. Though I wonder if there is an alternative that mitigate some of these issues. Perhaps the free allocation of .uk domains to all those that already have the .ac, .org, or .ltd variations.

The submission has changed (and been improved) since I made my original comment but my core point still stands. The proposal is flawed but it it was put forward as a draft for comment so anything “perfect” would have been suspicious. Nonetheless, action is long over to tidy up .uk so that it gives a measure of justified confidence that it refers to an organisation that is bound by UK law.

Having read your statement on the above URL, I would like to add my
support for your position.

I can see no reason why we need to change the system we already have, sld
names like co, org, net etc. describe the organizations using the domain,
in my opinion we should be tougher on who uses what to try to minimize
confusion. Additionally, more rules should be in place to ensure that
registrants under the uk name have some firm connection to the UK and don’t
just use it for convenience.

.ltd and .plc should be encouraged to be used more.

My only disagreement with your statement is that ISOC should give an
outright “no” to these proposals.

I agree with this statement. My main concern is that there is no apparent or perceived need for direct.uk and that the only benefit of having it is to increase the revenue stream for Nominet.

This is not true to the spirit in which we founded Nominet (I am one of the original signatory directors).

Nigel Titley

I wonder if the possible increase in security attacks such as phishing has been considered. It would be easy to any person to fall foul of a phishing attack from, for instance, hsbc.uk believing it to be hsbc.co.uk.

The point being, public safety should be strongly considered in the roll out of .uk.

Communication is our business and is key in this situation.

Since there is no technical requirement to introduce a direct .uk domain, then why do so? I cannot believe Dave Postel would have tolerated such an unnecessary complication. It must only be in order to generate income by Nominet. Your proposed response includes the conclusion “the English chapter of the Internet Society urges caution regarding the direct.uk proposals”. That kind of response is easily ignored by Nominet. I would rather see outright rejection on the basis that there is no perceived demand, that the existing system works well and is maintained effectively.
Many thanks…

* management of the UK domain name space
* Stability and Security of Internet services
* support for the deployment of core Internet protocols that can provide users across the whole of .uk with improved security such as DNSSEC.

I agree to the above mentioned

I agree with the draft overall. In addition I would add that there is a risk that the Nominet proposal will lead to a tide of legal actions for ‘passing-off’. Using my company as an example, we would regard any attempt to register our domain name minus the ‘.co’ as an attempt to pass-off if the domain were used to operate any Internet services such as web sites etc. We have taken succesful action in the past against companies and individuals who have registered confusingly similar names.

I agree with your very thorough assessment. Many other countries, eg, France, do not use second level domains below the ccTLD, but in my view the UK naming system gives many advantages, not least that management of these SLDs can be delegated. I can see that for Nominet, this is a loss of income and encouraging (or forcing) registration directly with them is a business opportunity. Nominet is a private company but nevertheless, as with other ccTLD registrars, has been entrusted with the public interest in the Internet, and their proposals seem to be very cynical.

Well established Core Internet protocols and improved Security of Internet services and Information technology is the most important priority of the users.

– Is .uk in UK?

the use of prefixes is good for the User in search of information on the internet, as there is better control project in the domain registration with all the documentation that regulates and justifies, it assures the consumer fend off problems into something he can not imagine. The prefixes before the UK leave the consumer more relaxed. But the problem is to give a better range of prefixes that best describe the content.

– Lack of justification for proposal

As described in the previous section, “uk in UK is” justification leads the consumer to know that the address it has to access, has a justification, just get it if he has the assurance that site has what it takes to imagine the domain. If by chance he feel cheated as often as aocnteceu with most users from the frustration is to simply go to a formal complaint.

– Second level UK Domain Policy

the second level for those having control registers the domain, can give to the government the opportunity to control the quality that other users can check out the country. The users will in turn define the country that has defined a control internet good quality or bad quality. Over time the benefits will be seen not only for internal users, external users, but also of the country realize that the difference in quality. The second level of control is a quality enhancement information. The competition record is visible to the User at the time of the search, but with the second level leads to User a quick realization that this User wants, it can be in front or not. What to watch out for is the choice of which will be to code or prefix in the second level.

– Implementation Phase

The implementation phase should be fast, because many changes are being made in several countries, but has not been the concern of quality that their own domains may have what it takes to ensure that implementations are fast, sure there will be a rapid changes perception of choice for information search.


I do not agree on all the points of the statement.
I think that is time that UK aligns with the rest of the world where was possible from the beginning to register second level domains.
I do not agree that the registrar will be able to ”syndacate” the content of the site or offer special ”trust mark”: that’s totally unacceptable and it is not the role of the registrar.
It is like if the government gives us two different parssports one normal and the other with a seal with written “ahh this is a such nice guy!!”.
I hope that will be soon possible to use the .UK freely and register second level domains.
Kind regards,
Marco Zuppone

I disagree very strongly with the negative tone of this draft response.

The current situation, where the registrants using .uk may be based anywhere in the world is indefensible. Those who use .uk for trading purposes while failing to give physical contact details are in breach of UK legislation (Distance Selling Regulations 2000) as well as the e-Commerce Directive.

There are indeed problems with making the changes necessary to tidy up the current mess but I believe that it is incumbent on the UK Chapter of ISOC to make constructive comments as to how this could and should be done.

I would feel the need to formally wish to disassociate myself from a response which merely points out problems and calls for further delay in sorting them and would blog accordingly.

The notion of using direct.uk is certainly an interesting one. However I believe that it is in the interests of many organisations to maintain the .co.uk or .ac.uk for example in order to specifically identify the type of organisation. There are without doubt those organisations that will opt fur duel registration which then raises the question of the impact and validity of the .uk address.

Hi Olivier,

I believe ISOC should respond as a group, and that our main point should be that Direct UK must preserve the interests of existing .CO.UK users. As long as Direct UK is positioned as a very specific product, very different to .CO.UK (this does seem to be what Nominet is proposing) then the new domain preserves the interests of .CO.UK users.


Stéphane Van Gelder

Would have been good if done originally, but too late now. Exception would be if they automatically (and at no extra fee) register .uk for all .xx.uk customers (and resolve any clashes).

The proposal from Nominet seems like a ploy to sell more domains, I think, so I am not in favour of this proposal. I don’t agree with being forced to buy a new domain when the existing one is still in service.