An Extraordinary General Meeting held Monday saw four of Nominet’s directors including Chair Mark Wood removed from their positions, while CEO and board member Russell Haworth stood down on Sunday, the day before the meeting. The Board clear-out follows a campaign for reform of the .uk ccTLD registry by Public Benefit .UK.
Nominet’s CEO Russell Haworth has become the sacrifice in the ongoing battles over management of the .uk ccTLD. In an announcement today, Nominet said Haworth “intends to step down from the Board and relinquish his duties as CEO. Russell will complete a short transition, arrangements for which details are being finalised. The board will announce interim leadership measures in due course.” Whether Haworth’s sacrifice minimises the fallout coming from today’s EGM remains to be seen.
The National Security Agency and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released a cybersecurity information sheet, “Selecting a Protective DNS Service” on Thursday. This publication details the benefits of using a Protective Domain Name System (PDNS), which criteria to consider when selecting a PDNS provider, and how to effectively implement PDNS.
Nominet has given some ground in light of a number of members, currently around 17.4% of members, proposing to dismiss half the board including the entire senior executive team and a number of other changes. As part of its efforts to appease the insurrectors, Nominet is proposing to scale up its public benefit programme, freeze .uk prices for at least two years and freeze board-level pay through the end of 2022, among other proposals.
London’s Sunday Telegraph reported of an insurrection brewing at Nominet, the .uk registry, with a former chair of the BBC “backing a bid to oust nearly half of the board of Nominet … amid anger over rising pay and falling contributions to good causes.”
The number of .uk domain names suspended dropped by 23% to 22,158 according to the latest update from Nominet on .uk domains suspended for criminal activity over the 12 months to October 2020. This is around 0.22% of the 10 million .uk domains currently registered.
Nominet and PIPCU, the City of London Police’s intellectual property unit, are collaborating in a pilot to protect internet users from scams online. The industry first initiative for a ccTLD registry sees Nominet introducing law enforcement landing pages for .uk domain names suspended due to criminal activity. This will provide information for those who may have been affected by the criminal activity related to the domain name.
Nominet has opened a consultation looking at how to implement a more transparent process for informing registrars and the wider public when expired .uk domain names will be made available for re-registration. They are also considering different methods for releasing highly desired expired domains which are contested (i.e. there are multiple parties seeking to register the domain name).
Nominet is donating Â£1 to the Samaritans for every new, paid for .uk domain registered from 9 December 2019 until 17 January 2020. Going by new registrations statistics provided by Nominet for 2019, Samaritans is likely to benefit to the tune of around Â£170,000.
Funds raised through new domain registrations ending in .co.uk, .uk, .org.uk, .me.uk, .ltd.uk, .plc.uk and .net.uk, will support Samaritansâ work developing its vital webchat service from its pilot stage to launch.
Samaritans is the leading suicide prevention charity in the United Kingdom, and is the only organisation that provides free emotional support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to anyone across the UK and Ireland who is struggling to cope. Nominet, the registry for the .uk country code top-level domain (ccTLD), notes the latest suicide rates in the UK rose for the first time in five years and revealed, in particular, in recent years the rate of suicide in young people has increased.
Samaritansâ webchat pilots have already demonstrated clear evidence of the need for this service, with the charity receiving many first-time contacts from young people in states of severe distress. The aim is to make the online environment safer for young people by offering them more ways to contact Samaritans, ensuring the charityâs vital services are accessible to everyone and in ways that work best for the user.
âNominet is already supporting us to build essential new digital products that will enable Samaritans to improve our services and reach more people who need them,â said Francis Bacon, Assistant Director of Digital Services and Change, Samaritans. âWeâre very grateful that they have chosen to support us even further with this festive fundraising initiative via .UK domain registrations. The additional contribution will accelerate our ability to bring our webchat pilot to launch, which will be a milestone achievement for the charity as we endeavour to always be there for everyone.â
Nominet is a Samaritans Digital Transformation partner. Earlier this year, Nominet announced it is providing Â£175,000, in addition to lending their expertise as one of the countryâs leading technology companies, to support the development of the two new digital products. These are a self-help tool for coping with distress and suicidal thoughts, and a new system which will allow volunteers to respond to significant volumes of additional contacts. Overall, with a guaranteed minimum contribution from the .UK registration campaign of Â£140k, Nominetâs total contribution to Samaritans will be over Â£300k.
In 2018, Nominet supported Children in Need with a similar domain registrations initiative. The funds raised went towards the charityâs projects that use digital or new technology to support disadvantaged children and young people across the UK.
Nominet has opened a consultation process that will see the .uk registry seek feedback on reducing phishing, law enforcement landing pages for domain names suspended for criminal activity and implementing a drop list for expired domains.
The 2019 consultation invites feedback on three important issues:
I. Reducing the use of .UK domain names for phishing attacks
II. Implementing law enforcement landing pages following suspensions for criminal activity
III. Implementing a .UK drop list to provide a transparent and orderly process for the re-registration of expired domains
On phishing, since 2018 Nominet has used Domain Watch, an anti-phishing initiative. The initiative operates as a risk-based enhanced verification of registration data for all newly-registered domains. It uses a combination of technical algorithms and manual intervention to highlight suspicious domains. Of the 3.6 million newly registered domains in the 12 month period July 2018 to July 2019, over 1,500 domains were blocked in the DNS as a result of our Domain Watch initiative.
Nominet are asking if they should update their policies to specifically allow them to prevent resolution in the DNS where they have identified a high risk of phishing use.
On implementing landing pages following suspensions for criminal activity, while Nominet does not have the means to remove content or alter websites, they can disrupt the impact of criminal behaviour by removing or suspending a domain name. So Nominet is now seeking views on what should happen following the suspension. One option proposed is an informational landing page.
And lastly, on a drop list, Nominet is consulting on implementing a .uk drop list to provide a transparent and orderly process for the re-registration of expired domains. They also want to know if there is support for the publishing of official information for registrars to clarify when expired domains will become available for general registration. Theyâre also asking if Nominet should encourage competition in the .uk secondary domains market?
Looking forward, in the consultation paper Nominet raises several other issues they are considering to improve the .uk namespace including:
- Moving to an inter-registrar transfer system that is more widely adopted across the industry
- Standardising domain name renewals, expiry and cancellations in line with generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) by implementing RFC 3915 and a life cycle to match gTLDs
- Removing the option for direct registration of domains with Nominet, without operating through a registrar.
âWe are committed to running a world leading registry and are always looking for ways to improve,â said Eleanor Bradley, MD of Registry Solutions and Public Benefit at Nominet. âAs the environment in which we operate evolves, we actively engage with a wide variety of UK stakeholders to ensure that the policies we maintain reflect emerging threats, changes in stakeholder expectations and new industry practices.â
âThis consultation sets out ambitious ideas to ensure .UK maintains its position as a vibrant and trusted namespace and provides an important opportunity for the UK internet community to provide input. We believe open consultation creates better policy so I encourage all interested parties to engage and look forward to hearing from you.â
Since 1996 Nominet has operated .uk, developing policies that provide the framework of principles for the .uk namespace. They are developed in consultation with a wide variety of stakeholders and aim to ensure a connected, inclusive and secure space for the UK internet community.
The .UK Policy Consultation invites feedback from all interested stakeholders by 16 December 2019. A roundtable event towards the end of the consultation period will be held on 4 December 2019. Interested parties can find out more and submit responses here.