At the beginning of October Nominet launched a consultation
on the potential introduction of a new service known as direct.uk. The logic behind the proposal is that .UK should give a reasonable measure of confidence that the registrant is physically located in the United Kingdom and not the Ukraine, Uzbekistan or "Uniwhere".
The background is the need for Nominet to put its house in order before BIS, DCMS, Home Office or the European Commission take control of Internet Addressing, perhaps via Ofcom or Trading Standards, the proposed EU regulation on electronic identities or the electronic signatures directive, in response to the growing pressures from law enforcement, tax authorities and others around the world.
The most vocal opposition comes from those seeking to preserve business models based on creating IPR in domain names to sell to the highest bidder. There are, however, also a number of practical issues to be addressed and some genuine concerns over the small print and the implementation plans.
I have just circulated the draft Conservative Technology Forum submission to confirm that we have sufficient agreement for this be a collective response - as opposed to a personal response from myself and those of the other officers willing to be attributed. As an affiliated party group the role of CTF is to make suggestions for future Conservative policy.
The key message in the draft CTF submission is that .uk should be developed as a trust mark with realistic quality control if it is to have value. Perpetuating a situation where .uk may refer to organisations based anywhere in the world will sooner or later render it value-less.
Even if the CTF submission is agreed by the executive it will have no official status - but we may do a press release listing naming those who have agreed that their support can be publicised and agreed to help organise political activities in support of implementation. Please visjt the CTF website and join if you would like to participate - including in a policy study to look at the implications of basing policy on on-line identity and trust on the assumption that we have copyright in our personal information and identities.
The issue of the "right" to be anonymous over the Internet is rather different. There is a need for a .anon that really is what it says on the tin. The current routines for disguising identity are wide open to abuse at the same time as giving false confidence to those who have good reasons for wishing to conceal their identities.