back to article Nominet to hike price of UK web domains by 50%

UK registry operator Nominet is planning to increase the cost of .uk domains by 50 per cent starting 1 March 2016, raising questions over its historic nonprofit status. The surprise announcement will see the wholesale price for all web addresses ending in "UK" increase to £3.75 from £2.50 per year, and are needed to deal with …

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Regulation?

Just how is Nominet regulated, if at all?

It describes itself as a Public Benefit Company. It's not a charity so the Charity Commissioners don't regulate it. Its web site says that it doesn't have shareholders, it has members who can only elect non-exec directors, not executives. In the absence of an external regulator or a membership able to elect executives then ISTM the providing that the essentials of financial reports to Companies House are met there is very little that anyone can do to restrain the execs.

Or have a missed something?

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Re: Regulation?

The history on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.uk and http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/07/03/nominet_joins_icann/

Ed Vaizey seemed to be asking similar questions a few years ago but got distracted, sad state of affairs when gov.uk getting involved looks like a good option...

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Go

Re: Regulation?

I think you're spot. Articles 28 and 29 of the company could probably be legally challenged: giving executives power over the board is definitely non in members interests: the board is supposed to supervise the executives "for the benefit of the Members as a whole…" Article 1A.

There are no specific provisions about being a non-profit, but seeing as this is usually allied with special tax treatment, this is probably deliberately so. However, the purpose of the company seems to act in the interests of the members as long as they don't clash with those of the public. A bit nebulous but difficult to square higher prices without a benefit to members.

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Re: Regulation?

.uk (as all ccTLDs) is owned by the UK government. Nominet operates it as a stewardship.

If members really want to put a lid on the expansionist policies they should be agitating to get questions "asked in the house" about why the ministry of fun is letting them get away with these shenanigans (which seem suspiciously like the same kind of shit that happened in New Zealand in the late 1990s).

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Anonymous Coward

Nickle and dime

Nominet charged me just to update the name on a domain.

I don't like their general control freakery, and if anyone is going to throw you under a bus if there's any sort of domain dispute, it will be nomient.

Cheap is sort of what they had going for them, but I wouldn't consider a .uk domain ever again.

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And this is why I dropped my .co.uk names and just use the proper ones (com,net and org).

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"the end result will be just a few extra pounds when they renew their web address."

That's fair. After all, somebody has to pay for the increased salaries.

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Pirate

It seems to me....

...like someone is playing a long game behind the scenes.

In a few years time someone is going to suddenly be very rich(er)

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Mushroom

Power corrupts...

and so do six-figure salaries for doing sod all.

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Holmes

"Members are asking why a price increase makes sense...

"... when despite inflation-busting salary increases, the organization still makes millions of pounds in profit."

Gosh, *I* don't know, boys and girls. Why do *YOU* think this price increase makes sense to Nominet...?

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Mushroom

Highway Bandits

I think their Twitter page could do with a revamp

Somehow the moniker “The UK’s Internet Champion” doesn’t seem appropriate anymore

https://twitter.com/quotesuk/status/669709562023444480

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Re: Highway Bandits

The UK's Internet Highwayman?

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Re: Highway Bandits

Something like that. As far as I can remember all nominet have ever cared about is getting cash and it always felt like their other aim was to do as little as possible in return. They actively seemed to encourage domain squatters and coincidentally there were more than a few financial links between the execs at Nominet and various domain squatters. When they saw the cash cow of .co.uk domain sales tailing off, which it will naturally due to saturation, they unanimously decided to push more .uk domains onto the market effectively blackmailing organisations into buying them in addition to their .co.uk and/or .org.uk domain names. Nobody (sane) actually wanted the new domains, but that didn't matter.

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They are the bad guys

Nominet are bad for the UK domain space. Their obsessions are empire building and "compliance", all offset by virtue signalling. All those things cost money, hence the price hike.

In recent years their "improvements" have all served to drive out small "corner shop" domain registrars in favour of the large supermarket type - the type that are better able to handle the silly tick-box bureaucracy of their compliance regime, but provide an impersonal service to their customers.

Despite Nominet's wealth and resources, they still can't attend to the basics and get them right. Two examples: Emails from their automaton are classified as spam by Google as they "violate Google's standards for sending email". And my browser (running Firefox latest on Ubuntu) turns its nose up at at Nominet's "secure" login page at https://secure.nominet.org.uk/. Perhaps that's because Qualys SSL Labs report that they are deploying a dodgy intermediate TLS/SSL certificate with a weak signature that needs upgrading to SHA2. Pathetic - especially when they self-certify themselves as "keeping the UK namespace safe". Yeah, right.

Nominet's "justification" for their price hike is pure comedy gold. Apparently raising your price is how you respond to "an increasingly competitive domain environment". And there was I thinking all the while that you increase your competitiveness by *lowering* your price! My bad - but then what do I know about running a cosy, unregulated monopoly?

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Anonymous Coward

Incompetent shambles

I've had UK domains since day one of Nominet. Originally names cost quite a lot, don't recall was it £100 or £200? but it I think it was a one off charge no annual renewal. Ten years later they decided to dispute my ownership of a highly desirable domain name I'd had and been using since day one and for which their whois service showed me as the registrant. I proved ownership and they agreed to continue as long as I paid the ongoing annual renewals.

On another occasion they let a name of several years standing drop with no notice. All my names are on auto-renewal. Overnight the live website went dead, name immediately released straight back onto the open market. Rather than face the hassle of trying to get them to investigate and correct the situation I just re-registered it before a name squatter could grab it.

Then I took it up with Nominet. Their explanation was a discrepancy in the registration details: the business name was shown as XXX trading as YYY. Subsequent to the original registration Nominet had introduced a separate "trading as field" to the database so the data was now incorrect. They had emailed an advice but there was a typo in the email address so they chose to disregard the bounce and not to bother trying the phone or postal address (both of which were correct), and finally, rather than suspend the name they cancelled it completely.

And I just checked with 123reg through whom the name was registered (yes I know, not the best choice...), their interface doesn't offer Nominet's t/a field so the only way to register correctly is to subsequently log into the Nominet control panel and add that information.

I do just wonder if this proposed price increase is a recognition that bare .uk names (without the .co) have failed. That's to say many (most?) of those who have paid up for the variant seem not to be using it (try tesco.uk, hsbc.uk). Maybe the plan is to include the bare .uk in the same fee as co.uk.

No, I expect they're just not satisfied with those meager £60k salaries.

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Having had a .uk domain since before Nominet existed...

... I find all this rather sad. Nominet started out as a relatively lightweight and efficient organisation (as these things go) and was initially quite robust at resisting the more freewheeling commercial domain slingers' attempts to turn it into a cash cow. Now it's just another overstuffed quango with an overinflated sense of its own importance.

Why on earth does it have an "R&D" department working on IoT and White Space spectrum and a bunch of other buzzwords du jour? Sadly, the answer seems to be, "because it can". It seems to have lost sight of its role - which is to operate a fairly straightforward database - and gone in search of a grander mission. It's becoming a mini-ICANN.

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Re: Having had a .uk domain since before Nominet existed...

I agree completely. Like you, we have been dealing with Nominet since way back when. And in those early days you are spot on: "a relatively lightweight and efficient organisation". But boy have things changed since then!

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Anonymous Coward

I wish the whole domain name registration system would clean up it's act. Registering a domain name always feels like going shopping in that bit of town your mother told you not to visit. I get that there's not much profit in registering the names but that doesn't mean you have to try and scam me. The thing I really hate though are the charges for moving a name to a different registrar. Seriously, this is a domain name we are talking about it's all virtual, no paper or humans should be involved.

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Devil

.... Blast

Company I work for had just secured its .uk domains, so not only have our costs for .uk domains doubled its now going to raise again.

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Annoying domain renewal e-mails

Nominet don't seem to get it that sending someone an e-mail to remind them that their domain is due for renewal is unsolicited electronic marketing. They can't legally send those e-mails without first obtaining consent and consent is only valid if the individual is given the opportunity not to give their consent at the point their information was collected.

Unless they have a legal obligation to remind their customers, Nominet need to obtain consent - tick box on the domain registration form for example, or send the reminder by post. I'm getting fed-up with setting a domain not to be renewed in the control panel provided by my hosting company but still receiving reminder e-mails from my hosting company and then from Nominet.

The number of UK companies that just don't get it is staggering. And don't get me started on the fee paying WHOIS opt-out that 123-Reg are heavily promoting to the detriment of the free WHOIS opt-out; they won't be doing that for long.

Webmaster www.mindmydata.co.uk

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Annoying domain renewal e-mails

> ... sending someone an e-mail to remind them that their domain is due for renewal is unsolicited electronic marketing

I disagree there, it's a normal part of running a subscription service. I can't be bothered looking, but I think you'll find something buried in the T&Cs you agreed to when signing up for a domain name.

You did have the option of not signing up to receiving these emails - you do not have to use a .uk domain name after all.

What I am very certain of though is this - if they didn't send out these reminders, there'd be a lot of peed off registrants.

Disclaimer - I work for an IT services company which is a registrar in their own right (Nominet tag holder). Seriously, you would not believe the grief we get from customers over renewals. We get customers who ignore multiple queries as to whether they want to renew or not - and then get all "WFT's going on" when their website & email stop working. We get people complaining about the (fairly modest) cost - and expecting their website and email to keep working if they don't renew !

And (I shouldn't be surprised at this bit) we get people with domains registered elsewhere but using our (for example) web hosting trying to make it our fault if they don't renew the domain with that third party they use and with whom we have no relationship !

As to Nominet's charges, I suppose they are immune from any monopoly investigations because ".uk" isn't the only domain space available.

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Re: Annoying domain renewal e-mails

The nominet T and Cs say by registering a domain name with them you ate entering a contract with them.

Businesses are allowed to send communications to customers with respect to their contracts.

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Anonymous Coward

Is this really new

Price changes happen most years for registries such as .com .org etc. Nominet have only raised the price once in over 10 years. A .uk is still cheaper at cost than a .com.

Providers within the UK already resell domains for £6.99 / year. I would expect to see the retail price rise for most between £6.99 and £9.99, in line with the core generic domain extensions.

Most business operate with one to three domains (.co.uk (£5).com (£10), now .uk (£5)), with others expanding with new extensions such as .london (£35) or .eu (£10). The cost of a few pounds more for a micro / small business - the majority of those businesses within the UK - will not make an impact.

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