Nominet to review domain suspension policy

Internet registry goes back to drawing board after ISPs reject cyber defence plans.

net connectivity

Nominet has responded to criticism over steps taken to shut down the domains of websites suspected of involvement in illegal criminal activities.

The UK domain name registrar has had a change of heart after it failed to reach an agreement with internet group stakeholders over the suspension of such websites.

It began the process of changing its policy earlier this year when the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) last year submitted a proposal to it regarding how to manage the use of domain names used in connection with criminal activities.

Although the policy changes are still in their draft phase, the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), Open Rights Group (ORG) and London Internet Exchange (Linx) failed to reach agreement on the policy and the subsequent domain shutdowns that have taken place.

"Nominet has to date been suspending domain names at the mere request of law enforcement in a variety of cases," wrote Jim Killock, Open Rights Chief executive in a blog post last week.

"ORG's position is that seizures and suspensions should be taking place only on court orders, as the law and the European Convention on Human Rights require."

The Nominet board was due to ratify draft recommendations on the policy proposals in December. But, following the developments last week, it will instead look to reconvene the issue group in January for further discussions before taking recommendations back to the board.

"We had hoped to submit a proposed policy to our board in the December timeframe," it said in a statement. "But following some recent public feedback it is clear that there are issues that require further discussion."

The statement added that the registrar's approach from the outset had been to gain consensus agreement with the issue group participants on the policy "where possible".

"Nominet remains committed to ensuring all stakeholders have their views represented, so we can continue to run .uk for the benefit of all," it added.

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