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Brexit hell: .eu suspension plan put on hold

Kevin Murphy, October 23, 2019, Domain Registries

EURid’s policy to boot out Brits next week has been put on hold due to the current impasse in Brexit talks.

UK citizens had been told they would lose their .eu domains November 1, the first day the country was scheduled to no longer be a member of the European Union.

But the October 31 exit date appears increasingly unlikely, with the divorce plan agreed to by the EU and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson still in UK parliamentary limbo.

So EURid posted today:

Following the recent developments in the UK withdrawal scenario, the entire plan outlined below is on hold. We will keep you informed as soon as we receive further instructions from the European Commission.

Under the suspended plan, EURid would have emailed all of its UK and Gibraltar-based registrants tomorrow to inform them that their domains were in jeopardy.

It would have closed down new registrations to Brits on November 1 and given existing registrants a two-month grace period to come into compliance — by transferring their names to addresses in eligible nations — before suspending the names.

A year later, the names would be deleted and returned to the available pool.

EURid said it will provide further guidance when it gets word from the European Commission.

“We’re Irish!” claim Brits as .eu shrinks yet again

Kevin Murphy, August 14, 2019, Domain Registries

British companies are moving their .eu domain names to their Irish branches in an effort to keep them after Brexit, according to the speculations of EURid.

.eu regs in Ireland grew 18% to 47,781 in the second quarter, according to the registry’s Q2 roundup. EURid said:

The high increase in Ireland could be related to the notice about UK withdrawal from the EU and its subsequence to UK .eu domain name holders. Some of the UK domain name holders may have had the chance to transfer the domain names to their branches in other countries of the EU and EEA, e.g. the neighboring Ireland.

Regs in the UK dropped by 13.9% compared to Q1 and by almost half — 46.7% — year over year. There are now 162,287 UK-based .eu domains.

Overall, .eu is still shrinking, partly as a result of this Brexit impact, which has been felt ever since the 2016 referendum.

There were 3,602,573 registered domains at the end of June, down from 3,661,899 at the end of March.

UK-based registrants have been told that they cannot continue to own .eu domains after Brexit, currently slated for October 31. It’s still a possibility that the date could change, or that Brexit may not happen at all.

Confusing matters, EU citizens living in the UK will still be eligible for .eu domains.

All this data, plus a whole lot more, can be read in the EURid Q2 report (pdf).

Revenue dips as Brexit whacks .eu in 2018

Kevin Murphy, April 16, 2019, Domain Registries

.eu saw its registrations sink substantially in 2018, largely due to Brexit, which affected its revenue and profit.

Registry EURid said yesterday that it was managing 3,684,750 .eu domains at the end of the year, down by 130,305 over the year.

It’s .eu’s lowest end-of-year domain count since 2012.

The UK, which voted to leave the EU in 2016 but has yet to follow through, sank from the fourth-largest .eu country to the sixth, now behind less populous countries Poland and Italy.

EURid and the UK government have warned UK-based registrants that they stand to lose their domains after Brexit is actually executed (if it ever is)

As Brits abandoned their .eu names by the tens of thousands, EURid also suspended over 36,000 domains for abuse, which affected its annual total.

The decline hit EURid’s revenue, which was down to €12.7 million, from €13.3 million in 2017. Profit was down from €1.7 million, from €2 million.

The data was published in the registry’s annual report (pdf), published yesterday.

Scottish registry dumps the pound over Brexit fears

The .scot gTLD registry has decided to dump the British pound as its currency of choice, due to fears over Brexit.

DotScot’s back-end, CORE, told registrars this week that it will start billing in euros from March 29.

The switch is being made due to “the expected volatility in currency exchange rates between GBP and other main currencies post-Brexit”.

March 29 is currently enshrined in UK law as the date we will formally leave the European Union, though the interminable political machinations at Westminster are making it appear decreasingly unlikely that this date could be extended.

CORE said that the prices for .scot registrations, renewals and transfers will be set at €1.14 for each £1 it currently charges. That’s the average exchange rate over the last 12 months, registrars were told.

.scot is a geographic gTLD, rather than a ccTLD, which was approved in ICANN’s 2012 application round. It has about 11,000 domains under management.

Its largest registrar, 1&1 Ionos (part of Germany’s United Internet), charges £40 a year.

Only 38% of Scots voted in favor of Brexit back in 2016, the lowest of any of the UK’s four nations, with no region of Scotland voting “Leave”.

Naturally, a great many Scots believe they’re being dragged out of the EU kicking and screaming by their ignorant, English-bastard neighbors. Which strikes me as a fair point.

Brexit blamed as .eu hits six-year low

Kevin Murphy, February 4, 2019, Domain Registries

EURid’s .eu top-level domain has hit a six-year low in terms of total registrations, and Brexit is to blame.

The registry has just announced that it had 3,684,750 domains under management at the end of 2018, down 63,129 domains compared to the 3,747,879 it had at the end of September.

That’s the lowest end-of-quarter number since September 2012, when it had 3,665,525 domains.

EURid said in a statement that the decline can be attributed to its “ramped up efforts towards tackling domain name abuse” and “uncertainty surrounding Brexit”.

The registry recently announced that UK-based .eu registrants can expect to lose their names by May, should the country crash out of the EU with no transition deal on March 29.

EU citizens living in the UK could also risk having their names temporarily suspended.

The number of .eu domains registered to the UK addresses dropped from 273,060 at the end of Q3 to 240,887 at the end of Q4, a 32,173 decline.

EURid said it also suspended 36,520 domains for abuse during the period.

Factoring out both of these drops, registrations would have otherwise been up by about 5,000.

Brexit boost for Irish domains

Kevin Murphy, January 25, 2019, Domain Registries

Irish ccTLD .ie saw record growth in 2018 after the registry relaxed its registration rules.

According to IEDR, there were 262,140 .ie domains at the end of the year, an increase of 10.4%.

There were 51,040 new registrations, a 29% increase, the registry said.

Almost 10,000 names are registered to Brits (excluding Northern Ireland), which IEDR chalks down to Brexit, saying:

Interestingly, new .ie registrations from Great Britain increased by 28% in 2018 compared to the previous year, a fact that may correlate with enduring Brexit uncertainty and suggests some migration of British businesses to Ireland.

The Irish Passport Service has reportedly seen a similar increase in business since the Brexit vote.

Irish registrar Blacknight also believes its own pricing promotions and marketing efforts are partly responsible for the increase in .ie reg numbers.

The .ie eligibility rules were changed in March last year to make it simpler to provide evidence of a connection to Ireland.

Brexit won’t just affect Brits, .eu registry says

Kevin Murphy, January 25, 2019, Domain Policy

European Union citizens living in the UK could find their .eu domain names shut off in the next few months, EURid has said.

In a just-published update to its Brexit guidance, the registry has told Brits that they stand to lose their domains on May 30, should the UK leave the EU with no transition deal.

That would give them just two months to transfer their domains to an entity in one of the remaining 27 member states.

On May 30, affected domains will be removed from the .eu zone file and will stop resolving, technically entering “withdrawn” status.

It will be no longer be possible to renew these domains, nor to transfer any domains to a UK-based registrant.

All affected domains — over 273,000 at the last-published count — will be deleted and released back into the available pool, in batches, following March 30, 2020.

This could be good news for domainers in the EU27, given that the deleted domains may include potentially valuable generics.

But EU27 citizens currently residing in the UK, who for whatever reason are unable to transfer their names to an address in their home country, will be treated at first in the same way as Brits. EURid said:

There may be situations of EU citizens, who at present are residing in the UK and have registered a .eu domain name. These citizens would become ineligible as a result of the UK withdrawal and would, therefore lose their eligibility for a .eu domain name, but might become eligible again when the new .eu regulatory framework comes into force later this year. At present, such individuals will experience a disruption of service from 30 May 2019, as a result of the withdrawal of the name.

The registry said last month that new regulations are coming that would allow EU citizens to register .eu domains no matter in which country they live.

Before these regulations kick in, these EU registrants will find their names unresolvable.

By May 30, starving Brits will be far too preoccupied with beating each other to death in the streets for scraps of the country’s last remaining baguette, trading sexual favors for insulin, and so on, so .eu domains will likely be among the least of their no-deal Brexit concerns.

The situation for registrants if the UK leaves the EU with a deal is less urgent. Their domains will stop functioning March 2, 2021, and from January 1, 2022, will be released back into the pool for registration.

Brits would be able to register new .eu domains all the way through the transition period, until the end of December 2020.

It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that Brits could be grandfathered in to .eu eligibility, should the UK leave on terms similar to European Economic Area members such as Norway, which are eligible under the existing rules.

Currently, it’s anyone’s guess whether we’re leaving with a deal or without. The government’s proposed transition plan was defeated earlier this month in an unprecedented revolt by members of parliament, which leaves no-deal enshrined in the statute books as the default option.

The government is currently attempting to talk its MPs into switching sides, but many suspect it’s just attempting to run down the clock to the March 29 Brexit deadline, compelling MPs to vote for the transition at the eleventh hour as the lesser of two evils.

The opposition is currently urging the government to rule out a no-deal scenario, to discourage British businesses from executing potentially irreversible and damaging exit plans, but the government is reluctant to do so, fearing it could weaken its negotiating hand with the EU27.

The far more-sensible option — giving British voters the opportunity to change their minds with a referendum — appears to be gaining support among MPs but still seems like a pipe dream.

There’s some evidence that the UK is now officially a demographically Remain country, simply due to the number of elderly racists who have died, and the number of youthful idealists who have reached voting age, since the original 2016 referendum.

UK tells .eu registrants to lawyer up as no-deal Brexit looms

Kevin Murphy, January 3, 2019, Domain Policy

British .eu registrants have been urged to consider another top-level domain or seek legal advice due to the risk of losing their names if a no-deal Brexit happens.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport issued guidance shortly before Christmas, encouraging UK individuals and businesses to talk to their registrars about their .eu eligibility after March 29, currently the date we’re scheduled to leave the EU.

“[Y]ou may wish to discuss transferring your registration to another top level domain,” the guidance states. “Examples of other top level domains include .com, .co.uk, .net or .org.”

I’m sure Nominet will be delighted to see the UK government apparently prefers .com to .uk.

The guidance points to the European Commission’s own notice of March 2018, which informs Brits that they won’t be eligible to register or renew .eu domains after Brexit, and that the registry will be able to turn off those names at will.

That’s assuming a no-deal Brexit, it seems. The new UK guidance suggests that a Brexit with a transition plan is likely to give registrants a bit more breathing space, and possible future rights to retain their names.

Even though .eu is not a TLD you’ll typically see on a billboard or TV commercial in the UK — I’m fairly confident I’ve never seen one in the wild here — it seems that Brits are responsible for a big chunk of the namespace.

There were 273,000 .eu domains registered in the UK at the end of the third quarter 2018, according to EURid (pdf), down 10% on the same period 2017, a decline squarely attributed to Brexit.

There were 3.75 million .eu domains in total, with the UK being the fourth-largest source of registrations.

If you haven’t been following the Brexit saga recently, lucky you! I’ll quickly explain what’s going on.

The British parliament is currently on the verge of deciding whether to leave the EU with a negotiated deal that nobody likes — the equivalent of sawing off a perfectly healthy testicle with a rusty blade for no reason — or to leave the EU with no deal — the equivalent of sawing off both perfectly healthy testicles with a rusty blade for no reason.

The option of keeping both testicles intact and attached is unlikely to be put to the British people because two years ago we were all assured that amateur backstreet castration was fricking awesome and we’re now being warned that the almost 52% of the population who believed the horseshit, and are almost certainly too stupid to have changed their minds in the meantime, will riot in the streets rather than recast their votes.

That’s it in a nutshell.

Come April 1, don’t be surprised if DI is being brought to you from a country with fewer idiots. I’m open to suggestions. Somewhere warm, preferably.

Brexit probably no big deal for UK domain owners

Kevin Murphy, June 29, 2016, Domain Policy

The UK may have suffered the most serious self-inflicted wound since the deep-fried Mars bar when it voted to leave the European Union last week, but it seems unlikely to have a huge effect on domain name registrants.

Most EU ccTLD registries do not require registrants to be based in the EU, and those that do have shown themselves flexible.

I surveyed the web sites of all 29 EU ccTLD registries, scouring FAQs and policy documents, to see if leaving the EU would cause conflicts for UK registrants.

All but one of these sites have comprehensive English versions available, which made the process very simple indeed.

It turns out the majority of the EU’s member states either have no geographic restrictions whatsoever or restrict registrations to only people and companies within their own nations.

I found five — six if you count .eu itself — that have policies that refer directly to a European Union presence in their rules and regulations.

  • .fr (France) is restricted to residents of the EU and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
  • .it (Italy) allows registrations from anyone in the European Economic Area, the Vatican, San Marino or Switzerland.
  • .nl (Netherlands) allows regs from anywhere, but registry manager SIDN says may attach “additional conditions to legal and/or natural persons based outside the European Union”.
  • .hu (Hungary) requires EU residency for individuals and companies wishing to register directly at the second level. There are no such restrictions at the third level.
  • .bg (Bulgaria) requires a local Bulgarian presence for non-EU registrants.
  • .eu (European Union) requires presence in the European Union, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.

As you can see, even those with EU presence requirements are pretty flexible when it comes to bolting on additional eligible countries.

So-called Brexit — British exit from the EU — is unlikely to happen for two years or more, if it happens at all.

The thinking right now is that if/when the UK does finally formally leave it is likely to either become a member of the European Economic Area or have otherwise have negotiated a relationship with the EU not unlike Norway’s.

This would presumably make it fairly easy for ccTLD registries to plug the UK into their existing policies.

Any registry with a substantial number of existing UK registrants would of course have financial exposure to a Brexit, a likely incentive to modify their rules accordingly.

So for regular domain owners, Brexit is probably no big deal.

Whether the move would an impact on trademark holders or registrars are rather more complex matters that I have not looked at yet.