Nominet has proposed plans to offer shorter Internet domain names with extra security features to UK-based companies.
The proposal would allow businesses to register www.name.uk as their web address, and run it alongside their existing www.name.co.uk one. However, applicants would have to pay a higher charge and provide proof of their UK presence.
Many companies are expected to oppose the plans, as separate moves made by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) means they already need to buy alternate web addresses. ICANN is creating hundreds of new top-level domains in a push for addresses ending in .home, .play and .shop.
Companies must either protect their brand by registering a variety of new addresses, building up a number of fees in the process, or run risks that will be potentially very expensive and very embarrassing.
Eleanor Bradley, director of operations for not-for-profit Nominet, reaffirmed that the plan was not a money making scheme. Any extra earnings would be donated to an independent firm to invest in the improvement of internet access and security.
On the new security features Bradley said, "We would do daily malware scanning of these domain names and associated sites and they would be DNSSEC-signed (Domain Name System Security Extensions) - that's a security protocol that adds a digital signature to a domain to minimise the risk of domain-hijacking, and it also ensures that when you are going to go to a domain you reach the one you wanted to reach.
"It would all be brought together with a Trust Mark so that consumers and people visiting these .uk domain names would get an immediate indication of the security and nature of the registration."
The prospective new domains would cost around £20 to run per year, as opposed to the £5 required to run a .co.uk address for two years. Domain registration businesses would sell on the products after adding their own costs.
Nominet has created a website offering further information and details on where to email responses. It will be running the consultation until 7 January.