More on ICANN and Nominet

I’ve written two pieces for The Register over the new ICANN contract with the US government, and the Board election shambles at Nominet.

In a nutshell: ICANN is taking the chance to escape US control seriously; everyone remains annoyed with the US administration’s failure to actually do anything except give easily breakable assurances (I am pretty sure this will change when the Bush Administration is no longer in power).

And Nominet? Well, it is running with the elections results as they were, meaning Gordon Dick and Fay Howard become directors again. But the justification of sticking with the results is poor at best, and I understand there are more questions that need to be answered, including the fact that many members, it would appear, didn’t actually receive their voting slips in time to vote. This has the potential of blowing up in Nominet’s face.

Never a dull moment on the Net.

  1. Heres a totally offtopic question, but who owns and what purpose does it serve? A whois returns an error from Nominet, but goes through to a site listing a few other sites, and goes to

    Any idea?

  2. Ah, there’s a bit of history here. Nominet also runs and, along with the original .net put strict controls on who was allowed to have a domain. But in 2002, Nominet suggested it has outlived its usefulness and was going to scrap it.

    This caused an inevitable screech of complaint from companies – mostly ISPs – running their servers (and websites) through domains but since then I have noted that nearly everyone has shifted on domains. One example: my ISP Eclipse ran its entire infrastructure over, but now has it all on

    There was a .net working group within Nominet last year which discussed what to do with it. I think, simply, the suggestion was either open it up to everyone, or kill it altogether.

    Aha – I have found it – The consultation period ended in March this year and I see ( that the working group has been wound up and the PAB has accepted its final report in July. So, presumably, it is awaiting decision from the Nominet Board.

    I shall send a few emails and find out.


  3. I just found the report –

    Its conclusion is that no one can agree on what to do so it’s best just to leave it as is. A bit weak. Why not just decide on a course and dictate that it will take place in a year or two years’ time? That way everyone has time to adjust.


  4. Thats interesting – I notice theres and which I’ve also never seen used. I can’t honestly see a huge benefit in having or these others, in fact I don’t really see much benefit in having new TLDs or gTLDs at all, unless they’re strictly regulated to contain only certain content. Obviously the issue then becomes the fact that everyone and their dog wants a gTLD for their industry – where do you stop?

    So, my verdict is probably rather like theirs. That said, I wouldn’t mind having a domain 🙂

  5. As chair of the working group which didn’t come to a consensus on this.. I’d also point out that is quite strictly restricted to ISPs/Network Providers who fall within a specific set of criteria. Also, ISPs (or Network Operators to be specific) have a lot more kit which several use for.. it’s not necessarily intended in many cases for customers to use (indeed the rules make it clear the SLD is for network infrastructure/ISP use.. not customers.. so customers shouldn’t have e-mail addresses, etc.) The working group did discuss extending the rules as who who was allowed to register domains.. some argued that being a member of Nominet for example should entitle you to register them. The fact it is restricted does remove the majority of the defensive registration problem but as you said it’s not that well known just like with and Either way I don’t see any harm it does either. The problem with .com and is they are very congested, so I would actually have no problems with say for solicitors which means that for example ABC Plumbers could have “” and Alan Bertrood Carter & Co” could have “”.. There is a process for that in place. ( is already registered to someone else.. just a ficticious example).

  6. Sebastien: thanks for your reply.

    You’re right, but the issue is that abc lawyers would want and Unless you strictly limit people within SLDs, you get the same thing you’ve got with .eu – every company has to have one. As such, if were opened up to anyone (for example) every Internet company would buy a domain (making someone lots of money!).

    I guess in an ideal world, you’d have a SLD for every industry, and you’d make sure that only people in that industry could register a domain within that SLD. I’m not sure what you do about having two A1 plumbers though…

    With that system you’re still very biased against Internet-only companies. Its incredibly hard now to find any free domains available in any of the unrestricted TLDs/SLDs. The way to solve this would be to find a way to prevent speculative buying of domains, I can’t think of one though.

    I wonder what percentage of domains registered actually contain real websites? 5%?

  7. I have no idea what proportion of registered domains have real web sites, but remember that there is more to the Internet than the web.

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