Nominet, the non profit organisation that administers domains in the UK, has started a three month consultation process on the possibility of introducing a new Top Level Domain (TLD) extension .uk. This would run alongside existing TLD’s such as co.uk. The new .uk extension would be around four times more expensive than existing co.uk domains but would also include a number of security features.
In a video posted on the Nominet website Eleanor Bradley, Director of Operations at Nominet, advises that there would be four security features that would be packaged with a .uk domain:
- Registrant Verification – The registrant of the domain would need to be UK based.
- Malware Scanning – This is to try to prevent websites with a .uk domain distributing malicious software inadvertently through their website.
- DNS SEC – This is a protocol that provides a digital signature for a website to provide greater confidence to users who visit the site that it is the site they wanted.
- Trust Mark – To provide users with confidence that the site is a safe and secure site to visit.
Nominet say that this about creating a safer, more secure, location for UK businesses to operate from. Nominet also points out that if you have an existing co.uk you will not be forced to purchase one of the new domains, nor would you be forced to operate from the domain if you did purchase a .uk domain.
Nominet have started a consultation process that will run until 07th January 2013. In the consultation document Nominet does set out a strong case for the threats to the digital economy from cybercrime and suggests that the beefed up security that would be associated with a .uk domain will help to build Britain’s digital economy by providing users with a domain extension that they can trust.
This will most likely affect those companies whose domain name is not also their company name, e.g best-web-designer.co.uk. These sort of domains that are keyword rich have generally been registered to try to gain higher search engine rankings. Anybody could register best-web-designer.co and there would be very little that the owner of the equivalent co.uk domain holder could do to differentiate themselves from the new domain. Thus owners of these type of domains are more likely to feel pressured into registering the new .uk domain
It would also be interesting to see if Search Engines such as Google and Bing would take into account the extra trust and security features of the proposed .uk domain and rank the owners of these domains higher than those of co.uk domains, all other factors being equal. Search engines like to provide users with results that are trust worthy and the beefed up security of these domains would help to identify potentially higher quality sites.
My initial thought on this was that it was just a revenue raising exercise, in the same way that the releasing of domains such as .co and .hotel TLD’s are primarily to increase revenue with domain registers telling their clients that the new domain is available and that companies should register them, if relevant to the business, in order to prevent another individual or organisation registering it and potentially causing confusion around your online brand identity. How many times have you ever guessed at a company’s domain name and typed in anything other than .co.uk or .com? One company I bet will love this TLD is French Connection so that they can www.fc.uk!
However, that said, I think that the extra security features that will come with this domain extension makes a compelling case to register these new TLD’s. In reality all business owners know that they have to provide added value in order to secure a sale and with features such as registrant verification, malware scanning, DNS SEC and the use of a trust mark Nominet have definitely added value to the .uk domain.