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Scottish Independence Referendum Throws Up ccTLD Conundrum

The referendum the Scottish people will vote on 18 September to determine whether the country gains independence from the United Kingdom has a lot of far-reaching implications for the country, one of which that is little discussed is top level domains.The .scot new gTLD is currently being introduced, but this will not serve as a country code for the newly independent country if its people vote “yes” to independence.For country codes, Scots like the English, Welsh and Northern Irish have .uk as their country code. But it is likely the Scottish will eventually want to establish their own country code. But which one?”If Scotland decide to leave, it could start the wheels in motion to have its own two digit ccTLD,” Stuart Fuller, director of commercial operations at NetNames, told Bloomberg. “Still, 22 out of the possible 26 combinations for a .S something are already in use and only .SF, .SP, .SQ or .SW are left — .SC is already assigned to the Seychelles.””The timing of the launch of the new [.scot] domain, with general availability due to start just a few days after the referendum result, is no coincidence,” says Fuller.Some companies have already moved in on .SCOT names, while others may start the process of establishing Scotland’s own ccTLD. Gavin McCutcheon, director of the Dot Scot Registry, said, also speaking to Bloomberg “.SCOT,” launches its General Availability on 23 September.The country codes are defined by the Swiss-based International Organisation for Standardisation, who develops and publishes international standards. Under ISO 3166, the purpose of these country codes is, the ISO says, to define internationally recognised codes of letters and/or numbers that we can use when we refer to countries and subdivisions. ISO 3166 codes are not only used for domain names, they are also used by all national postal organisations throughout the world for exchanging international mail in containers that are identified with the relevant country code.Scotland, if it votes yes for independence, will need to have its own codes once it is recognised by the appropriate United Nations bodies, and if so, they will make 250 countries, territories, or areas of geographical interest are assigned official codes in ISO 3166-1.