Nominet Proposes New .UK Registrar Agreement

Nominet logoNominet last week launched its proposal for working with its registrar channel to raise standards of service and data quality with a proposal for a new Registrar Agreement.

The proposed Registrar Agreement forms part of Nominet’s programme for keeping its business and the .uk namespace relevant, competitive and trusted.

The Registrar Agreement is the contractual basis on which Nominet deals with all of its registrars, from organisations who manage a portfolio of their own domains to businesses who sell domain names to end users.

The revised agreement outlines raised baseline standards, while offering a framework that recognises the diversity of registrar business models.

The proposal aims to ensure that registrants have a positive customer experience, the data the registry holds is of the highest quality, and puts in place procedures that demonstrate responsible and effective industry self-regulation.

This follows on from an earlier consultation in April 2012, in which stakeholders were broadly supportive of the objectives of a new agreement and keen to see the details set out by Nominet.

Under the proposal, registrars would be able to self-select from three categories, or ‘tags’, with each offering different standards and incentives:
“Self-managed” would suit portfolio holders including investors and organisations who register and manage domains for their own use. They will be enabled under the new agreement to make free registrant transfers.
“Channel partner” would suit registrars who register and manage domains on behalf of their customers.
“Accredited channel partner” is aimed at registrars who choose to meet higher standards through enhanced customer service and a commitment to providing higher quality data. They would also be able to make free registrant transfers on their customers’ behalf, a service currently performed by Nominet. They will also be able to update changes to the registrant’s data.

The framework is designed to ensure registrars can meet the higher standards required for accredited status regardless of the size of their business, recognising that small and large registrars alike are committed to high standards.

The different categories will offer registrars greater opportunities for differentiation, with registrars able to hold more than one tag and no limit on how many categories they can apply for.

Eleanor Bradley, Chief Operating Officer at Nominet, said “A one-size fits all model didn’t make sense any more, and with the increasing demands placed on the industry, it is the right time to make a change that sets us up for the future.

“We will always want to raise standards and this agreement will help us work with our registrars to do just that. The great work in our industry is often over-looked and we want to address that. Many of our registrars are already committed to providing an excellent service and this new agreement will ensure their efforts are recognised and rewarded.  Developing an accredited partner option that is available to all is really important to us. We want to acknowledge the part that all registrars can play in ensuring the .uk namespace continues to thrive.”

The proposed revised agreement sets out standards for professional engagement and compliance with legal requirements for data protection and beyond. It has been clarified to include the content previously covered by Nominet’s good practice terms and acceptable use policy.

Compared to the current framework, the proposed agreement would result in additional costs of implementation and compliance which would largely be borne by Nominet. A nominal per-tag fee is also being considered and the consultation is asking for feedback on the issue of pricing.

The consultation launches today and will run until 12 September 2013. Responses to the consultation will be published in November once Nominet has been able to consider all the feedback.

Nominet aims to finalise a new Registrar Agreement prior to the end of the calendar year, and will give 30 days notice before the agreement comes into force. A six-month transition period will then be put in place to help registrars move across to the new model.

For a copy of the proposed agreement and details of the consultation, see www.nominet.org.uk/registraragreement