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'Offensive' UK Domains Under Review 

September 10, 2013

Following concerns raised about the nature of some .UK domain names, Nominet has begun reviewing its approach to registration policy. 

Nominet, which is the .UK registry operator, is undertaking the review of domain name policies to gauge "whether there should be restrictions on the words and expressions permitted in .uk domain name registrations."

According to the Terms Of Reference (PDF) for the review; as is the case with other extensions such as .COM, "Nominet has historically not made any value judgement as to the use to which domains are put, or whether they might be offensive or in poor taste."

The company says it was contacted by the UK's Department for Culture, Media & Sport after what Nominet describes as an "Internet safety commentator" flagged the issue of distasteful names and what was perceived to be the prevalence of easily accessible adult content being hosted under .UK domains.

The review is to be independently chaired by former Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald QC; who was previously Director of Public Prosecutions and Trustee of Index on Censorship.

The review will operated between now and early November; with publication of Mr. MacDonald's report, along with public contributions and outcome of policy review, to occur in December this year.

"In the meantime," says Nominet, "we are looking closely at what further practical steps we can take to play our part in keeping the .uk internet safe."

News of the review has met with mixed reactions, with some fearing it to be a step towards the over-censoring of online content.

In Australia, there isn't a solid policy concerning names that could be perceived to be distasteful or offensive; however, some Australian registrars reserve the right to not process registrations for .AU domains that they deem would fall into these categories.

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