The UK government is planning new powers to regulate all domain registries in the UK, including radical powers to dismiss and replace the management board of any registry operating in the UK.
Telnic, the UK-based registry operator and sponsoring organisation for the global communications-focused top level domain .tel, has warned that new powers which accompany the proposed Digital Economy Bill could have damaging consequences for the industry.
"No commercial company could accept the risk of the UK government taking over managerial control. Current legislation does not place such a threat on other service providers; it is unimaginable that this kind of power would be applied to Vodafone or any other communications service provider, despite the large volume of regulation in that area. This Bill as currently proposed would reduce the UK's innovation and competitiveness in this market at a stroke," the company said.
Telnic said that the US Department of Commerce gave ICANN, the international governing body in charge of regulatory oversight of domain registries, ultimate regulatory powers precisely because there was concern internationally about any one government having actual or perceived control over the domain name space.
"The Digital Economy Bill may be misunderstood as an attempt by the UK government to overrule ICANN's authority, without any attempt to canvas the views of the industry such a move would affect," it said.
Nominet, which runs the .uk top level domain, said, "We believe that the reserve powers set out in the Digital Economy Bill will not be needed and that together with our members Nominet will be able to introduce the constitutional reforms needed to allow .uk to continue to be operated responsibly and in the public interest.
"We remain a strong proponent of industry self-regulation as it promotes innovation and allows us to respond quickly to market conditions, yet we recognise the need to retain the government's trust and confidence in our industry."