By Damian Herrington

Nominet, the internet registry responsible for “.uk” domain names, has announced a three month consultation on proposals for new, shorter domain names, backed by enhanced security features. The plan is for shorter “.uk” domains to be offered alongside the existing “.co.uk” suffix used by many UK businesses.

Nominet claims the new service – “direct.uk” – would provide the most comprehensive package of security measures included as standard by a country code registry. These measures would include verification of a registrant’s UK contact details, malware monitoring and notification, and a mandatory digital signature to prevent the hijacking of a domain name. 

To address the issue of competing interests to new “.uk” domains, a sunrise phase is being proposed which “respects existing trade marks, recognises unregistered rights and also confers unregistered rights status on any existing “.uk” domains currently held by UK businesses”.

Pricing for the new service is still to be determined but Nominet believes the wholesale price to registrars will be below £20 per year. Registrars will be free to set their own price for consumers.

Nominet has invited comments from stakeholders on the proposals. The consultation lasts until 7 January 2013.