Nominet Plans to Screen .uk Domain Names

LONDON — Nominet, the operator of the .uk top-level domain, has instituted a post-registration system to screen .uk domain names that "appear to encourage or promote serious sexual offenses."

Nominet said that it will apply the new policy retrospectively and that the screenings taking place within 48 hours of registration could mean suspensions or de-registrations.  

The new screening rules only apply to the domain name itself and will not mean Nominet is drawn into policing content.

Online adult operators with randy and crass domains names, however, would be prime targets under the new rules.

If a .uk domain name signals other criminal content and it is brought to Nominet's attention,  Nominet said it would refer these cases to the police for further action in keeping with their current policy.

The changes come about following a recent policy review led by Lord Ken Macdonald QC, formerly the U.K. director of public prosecutions.

After reviewing the report, Nominet's unanimously board agreed to make the rule changes.

"We wholly agree with Lord Macdonald’s advice against Nominet policing content of websites or deciding on questions of good taste and decency," Nominet Board Chair Rennie Fritchie said.

"That said, a safer and trusted Internet benefits us all, and as a responsible business, we are committed to playing our part," he said. "Nominet will amend its terms and conditions to make it clear that registration of a domain name that appears to encourage or promote a serious sexual offense will constitute a breach of our terms of business."

Nominet began registering domain names in 1996 and is now officially recognized by the U.K. government as the manager of the .uk TLD.

View Nominet's memo over screening domain names