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UK domains get government oversight

With the passing of the Digital Economy Bill last night, the UK government has created powers to oversee Nominet, the .uk registry manager, as well as any new gTLD that is “UK-related”.

The Bill would allow the government to replace a registry if, in its opinion, the registry’s activities tarnish the reputation or availability of UK internet services.

It also allows the minister to apply to a court to alter the constitution of a registry such as Nominet.

The legislation was created in response to concerns that the registry could be captured by domainers, following a turbulent few years within Nominet’s leadership.

Nominet has since modified its constitution to make this unlikely, and is now of the position that the government will have no need to exercise its new powers.

The Bill does not name Nominet specifically, but rather any domain registry that is “UK-related”.

An internet domain is “UK-related” if, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, the last element of its name is likely to cause users of the internet, or a class of such users, to believe that the domain and its sub-domains are connected with the United Kingdom or a part of the United Kingdom.”

This almost certainly captures the proposed .eng, .scot and .cym gTLDs, which want to represent the English, Scots and Welsh in ICANN’s next new gTLD round.

.xxx TLD passes Godwin’s law milestone

ICM Registry’s application for the .xxx TLD passed a crucial milestone yesterday, when it was compared to the Nazis for the first time.

Godwin’s law states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”

That moment arrived at 11:54:09 yesterday, when an ICANN commentator by the name of Ian K posted this:

If we truly believe in *NET NEUTRALITY*, then a TLD such as XXX has no part in it. Adding the TLD to the options, along with all that it means, is no different than when the *Nazi’s* forced all of the /Jewish Faith/ to wear *yellow Stars of David*, for easy identification, and subsequent *persecution*.

Mr K’s comment comes amid a deluge of negative opinion from pornographers and Christians alike. The latter disagree with porn in principle; the former think .xxx will lead to censorship.

The .xxx discussion has been dragging on for the best part of a decade, so the Godwin milestone has been a long time coming.

Frankly, I’m surprised it took this long.

New gTLDs will cost $155 billion, honest

A report out from the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse, which pegs the cost of first-round new gTLD defensive registrations at $746 million, has set eyes rolling this evening.

CircleID rather oddly compares it to a recent Minds + Machines study, “predicting new gTLDs will only cost $.10 per trademark worldwide.”

Apples and oranges, in my view.

But numbers are fun.

My own estimate, using data from both CADNA and M+M, puts the total cost of new gTLDs defensive registrations at $155.85 billion.

For the avoidance of doubt, you should (continue reading)

China domain name registrations plummeting

The Chinese ccTLD has lost almost four million domain name registrations since it implemented Draconian identification requirements last December.

According to CNNIC, the .cn manager, there were 9.53 million domains registered at the end of February, compared to 12.28 million in January and 13.45 million in December.

That’s a loss of 3.9 million domains since the new registration requirements were introduced mid-December.

The bulk of the loss appears to have come from pure .cn names, which dropped from 8.61 million in December to 6.14 million in February.

The .com.cn namespace lost about half a million names over the same period. The rest of the drop-off came in lesser-used second-level domains such a .org.cn.

Since December 14, CNNIC has required all Chinese registrants to provide photo ID before they register a domain.

Recently, the registry has tried to enforce retroactive enforcement of this requirement, causing registrars including Go Daddy and Network Solutions to abandon the TLD altogether.

VeriSign plans domain tasting service

VeriSign plans to offer a service that would allow domain names to be registered for as short a period as a month, possibly creating a system of legitimised domain tasting.

The company has asked ICANN (pdf) if it can launch a Domain Name Exchange service, whereby registrars could cash in unused names, transferring the remaining time on the registration to a new domain.

The service, according to VeriSign’s filing, is designed for registrars that offer domain registration as part of bundled hosting packages paid for on a monthly subscription basis.

Currently, those registrars have to register the domain for a full year with VeriSign, even if the customer stops paying for it after a month or two, the company said.

Under Domain Name Exchange, registrars would (continue reading)