.uk - History

History

As with other ccTLDs in the early days it was originally delegated to an individual by Jon Postel. In time, it passed to Dr Willie Black at the UK Education and Research Networking Association. Originally, domain requests were emailed, manually screened by and then forwarded to the UK Naming Committee before being processed by UKERNA. Membership of this committee was restricted to a group of high-end ISPs who were part of a formal peering arrangement.

The Naming Committee was organised as a mailing list to which all proposed names were circulated. The members would consider the proposals under a ruleset that insisted that all domain names should be very close if not identical to a registered business name of the registrant. Members of the Naming Committee could object to any name, and if a small number of objections were received, the name was refused.

By the mid-1990s the growth of the Internet, and particularly the advent of the World Wide Web was pushing requests for domain name registrations up to levels that were not manageable by a group of part-time voluntary managers. Oliver Smith of Demon Internet forced the issue by providing the committee with a series of automated tools, called the "automaton", which formalised and automated the naming process end to end. This allowed many more registrations to be processed far more reliably and rapidly, and inspired individuals such as Ivan Pope to explore more entrepreneurial approaches to registration.

Various plans were put forward for the possible management of the domain, mostly Internet service providers seeking to stake a claim, each of which were naturally unacceptable to the rest of the committee. In response to this Dr Black, as the .uk Name, stepped up with a bold proposal for a not-for-profit commercial entity to deal with the .uk domain properly. Commercial interests initially balked at this, but with widespread support Nominet UK was formed in 1996 to be the .uk Network Information Centre, a role which it continues to this day.

The general form of the rules (i.e. which domains can be registered and whether to allow second level domains) was set by the Naming Committee. Nominet has not made major changes to the rules, although it has introduced a new second level domain .me.uk for individuals.

It is prohibited to register a domain name directly under .uk (such as internet.uk) and a second-level domain must be used (such as internet.co.uk).

However, some domains delegated before the creation of Nominet UK remain. Examples include mod.uk (Ministry of Defence), parliament.uk (Parliament), bl.uk and british-library.uk (the British Library), nls.uk (the National Library of Scotland), nhs.uk (The National Health Service), and jet.uk (UKAEA as operator of the Joint European Torus experimental fusion tokamak). No new 'normal' registrations at the second level are accepted although there is a system for allocating new second level domains to expand the capacity of the system. Such allocations are rarely made.

It is possible to directly register a domain name with Nominet UK but it is faster and cheaper to do it via a Nominet registrar.

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