.uk registry Nominet has appointed a new chair from the world of news media.
Mark Wood will replace outgoing chair Rennie Fritchie on April 28, the company said yesterday.
Wood is formerly a director of Reuters and chair/CEO of the UK television news company ITN. He’s also on the board of CityWire and the advisory board of PwC.
Baroness Fritchie has chaired Nominet for seven years.
A British Member of Parliament has been forced to deny he was behind the registration of several domain names promoting him as a future leader of the Labour party.
Clive Lewis, until recently a member of the shadow cabinet, told the Guardian yesterday that he did not register the batch of domains, which included cliveforleader.org.uk, cliveforlabour.org.uk and their matching .org, .uk and .co.uk domains.
“None of this is true: I haven’t done this,” he told the paper, following a Huffington Post article revealing the names had been registered June 29 last year, just a couple of days after he was appointed shadow defence secretary.
Lewis resigned from the shadow cabinet three weeks ago after refusing to vote in favor of triggering the Article 50 process that will take the UK out of the European Union.
The Labour Party has been dogged by stories about potential leadership challenges ever since Jeremy Corbyn — popular among grassroots party members, unpopular with voters — took over.
Questions about Corbyn’s leadership reemerged last week after a disastrous by-election defeat for the party.
The domains were taken as an indication that Lewis had been plotting a coup for many months, which he has denied.
The Whois records do not support a conclusion one way or another.
Under Nominet rules, individuals are allowed to keep their phone number, postal and email addresses out of Whois if the domains are to be used for non-commercial purposes, a right the registrant of the names in question chose to exercise.
Public Whois records show the .uk names registered to “Clive Lewis”, but contain no contact information.
They do contain the intriguing statement “Nominet was able to match the registrant’s name and address against a 3rd party data source on 29-Jun-2016”, a standard notice under Nominet’s Whois validation program.
But Nominet does not validate the identity of registrants, nor does it attempt to link the registrant’s name to their purported address.
The statement in the Whois records translates merely that Nominet was able to discover that a person called Clive Lewis exists somewhere in the world, and that the postal address given is a real address.
The .org and .com domains, registered the same day by the same registrar, use a Whois privacy service and contain no information about the registrant whatsoever.
Lewis himself suspects the batch of names may have been registered by a political opponent in order to force him to deny that he registered them, noting that fellow MP Lisa Nandy had a similar experience last July.
His initial statement to HuffPo, on which he reportedly declined to elaborate, was:
A lesson from LBJ [US President Lyndon B Johnson] in how to smash an opponent. Legend has it that LBJ, in one of his early congressional campaigns, told one of his aides to spread the story that Johnson’s opponent f*cked pigs. The aide responded: ‘Christ, Lyndon, we can’t call the guy a pigf*cker. It isn’t true.’ To which LBJ supposedly replied: ‘Of course it ain’t true, but I want to make the son-of-a-bitch deny it.’
Since then, along with his denial to the Guardian, he’s told his local Norwich newspaper that he’s tasked his lawyers with finding out who registered the names.
“I have instructed a solicitor to go away and look at this. They can try and make sure we find the identity, the IP address and the payment details,” he told the Eastern Daily Press.
Police claims of intellectual property infringement led to the number of .uk domains suspended doubling in 2016, according to Nominet.
Statistics released today show that the .uk registry suspended 8,049 domains in the 12 months to October 31, compared to 3,889 in the year-ago period.
It’s an almost tenfold increase on 2014, when just 948 domains were taken down.
Nominet suspends domains when law enforcement agencies tell it the domains are being used in crime. No court order is required and Nominet rarely refuses a request.
Registrants can have the suspension lifted if they can show to law enforcement that the allegedly criminal behavior has stopped.
The vast majority of the complaints in 2016 again came from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, which asked for and got 7,617 names suspended.
Just 13 suspensions were reversed, Nominet said. Most of these were due to sites selling so-called “legal highs” being slow to respond to a change in the law.
The controversial ban on “rape” domains resulted in just one suspension among the 2,407 domains automatically flagged for containing rapey substrings.
Nominet published the following infographic with more stats:
The majority of businesses in the UK don’t care about direct second-level .uk domains, even when the benefits are spelled out for them, according to Nominet research.
The new survey found that only 27% of businesses would “definitely” or “probably” exercise their new right to buy a .uk domain that matches their .co.uk or .org.uk name.
That number only went up to 40% after respondents had seen a brief Nominet marketing pitch, the survey found.
Another 16% said they had no plans to get their .uk, post-pitch, while 44% remained undecided.
This was the value proposition the respondents saw (click to enlarge):
Under the direct .uk policy, all registrants of third-level domains, such as example.co.uk, have the right of refusal over the matching example.uk.
If they don’t exercise that right by June 10, 2019, the matching SLDs will be unfrozen and released into the available pool.
The new Nominet research also found out that most registrants don’t even know they have this right.
Only 44% of respondents were aware of the right. That went up to 45% for businesses and down to 33% for respondents who only owned .uk domain names (as opposed to gTLD names).
A quarter of respondents, which all already own 3LD .uk domains, didn’t even know second-level regs were possible.
Of those who had already bought their .uk names, over two thirds were either parking or redirecting. Individuals were much more likely to actually use their names for emails or personal sites.
The numbers are not terribly encouraging for the direct .uk initiative as it enters into its third year.
They suggest that if something is not done to raise awareness in the next few years, a lot of .co.uk businesses could find their matching SLDs in the hands of cybersquatters or domainers.
Nominet members (registrars and domainers primarily) were quizzed about possible ways to increase adoption during a company webinar today.
Suggestions such as making the domains free (they currently cost £2.50 a year, the same as a 3LD) or bribing a big anchor tenant such as the BBC to switch were suggested.
There’s a lot of dissatisfaction among the membership about the fact that .uk SLDs were allowed in the first place.
The number of second-level .uk names has gone from 96,696 in June 2014 to to 350,088 last year to 593,309 last month, according to Nominet stats.
Over the same periods, third-level regs have been shrinking, from 10.43 million to 10.22 million to 10.08 million, .
The number of cybersquatting cases involving .uk domains was basically flat in 2015, while the number of domains that were transferred was down.
That’s according to Nominet’s wrap-up of last year’s complaints passing through its Dispute Resolution Service.
There were 728 DRS complaints in 2015, the registry said, compared to 726 in the year before.
The number of cases that resulted in the transfer of the domain to the complainant was down to 53%, from 55% in 2014.
That’s quite a bit lower than complainants’ success rates in UDRP. In 2015, more than 70% of UDRP cases resulted in a transfer.
Nominet reckons that the DRS saved £7.74 million ($notasmuchasitusedtobe) in legal fees last year, based on a “conservative” estimate of £15,000 per case, had the complaint gone to court instead.
More stats can be found here.