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Analysis / Ecommerce

Will “.UK” Be Most Trusted Domain On The Web?

The new top-level .uk domain proposed recently by Nominet could create the world’s most trusted country code on the web, and could lead to .uk becoming an equivalent of a British Kitemark standard.

Nominet’s proposals are a unique example of a national domain registry pre-empting the best practices proposed by ICANN for new generic top-level domain due in 2013.

Nominet, the body responsible for overseeing all UK web addresses, announced a three-month consultation to launch .uk at the top level, running alongside established .co.uk domains. The ultimate aim of the .uk launch is to increase trust in the .uk Internet space and create further availability of .uk domains for British businesses and consumers.

Nominet is proposing measures to protect website visitors that are more stringent than any other national registry has yet implemented. The new domain could clearly come with a greater barrier to entry as a result of mandatory Domain Security Extensions (DNSSEC) and a potentially arduous authentication process to enable your domain.

However, the overall aim of making a .uk domain a safer environment for UK browsers will be worth the energy. I applaud this move. I believe the focus on a quality domain space can only benefit the end user and the industry overall.

At this stage it appears that Nominet is going further than other national domain registries in its efforts to protect consumers, and the issues behind Nominet’s authentication and security proposals are very real. The UK’s economy and consumers lose billions to fraudsters and counterfeiters, who re-route traffic to rogue websites.

Nominet is proposing to protect .uk websites by automatically monitoring them for malware, and suspending infected sites if they are not fixed quickly by the owner once notified of an issue.

Under the current proposals announced last month, .uk registrants would have to prove that they have a valid base in the UK, by having an activation PIN sent to their premises. Address details would be periodically checked and re-checked throughout the domain’s life, for example during renewals and transfers, to give the best reassurance that the domain holder has a base in the United Kingdom.

If Nominet and the industry can achieve the aims behind their proposals, then .uk could become a kind of Kitemark for websites, engendering greater trust in the site and the brand behind it. I look forward to the industry coming together to discuss and refine these proposals so that we can create a final blueprint for the most trusted country code domain on the web.

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Richard Winslow has held senior management appointments within the Web hosting and domain name industry since 2001. As head of Webfusion's Hosting and Domains, Richard is responsible for overall P&L of the mass market products, including 123-reg.co.uk, the largest registrar of .uk domain names and the UK's leading brand for domains.