Domain Name Sellers Get Exotic
by Dinah Greek
Domain name resellers latching on to outlandish addresses
If the domain name you want is taken there are alternatives to .co.uk or .com - but be aware of the risks.
For example, could you identify the Federation of Micronesia on an atlas? Probably not, unless you are a geography buff, but the country code domain for these islands - .fm - is just one used by domain resellers to sell personalised domain names.
In this case .fm third-level domain names with suffixes such as .sco.fm, .wal.fm and .gbr.fm ( Scottish Firm, Welsh Firm and Great British Firm respectively) are being promoted as the perfect alternative web addresses for UK companies.
Businesses in Northern Ireland are being told that the .co.ni address "readily identifies Northern Ireland business and individuals". But it makes no mention of the fact that .ni is the Nicaraguan country code.
There is nothing wrong with having a web address that ends with another country code, but people are often not aware that they have signed up for a foreign code or of the pitfalls that can come with its registration.
They will be subject to the rules of another country's national domain name registry, and disputes will not be so easy to resolve.
Last year there was a big push to get British businesses to sign up to .uk.co as an alternative to .co.uk.
The only problem is that .co is the country code for Columbia and a company which signs up for this third-level domain name is bound by the rules of the Colombian government for the continued existence of its website.
Now registered sites are under threat as the current .co administrator (University de los Andes) has said that it will not be responsible for the .co zone after December 2003.
This has caused real concern about the future of .co and its sub domains (such as uk.co) after this date.
Ken Sorrie, director of domain registrar Internetters, told vnunet.com that there is no way of knowing what will happen.
"Such third-level domain names are dependent on the integrity of a distant country's domain name authority to maintain the registration of the second-level domain," he said.
"Many people do not realise that their domain name is actually a third-level domain name constructed on a remote country code suffix.
"In addition, they are also dependent on the registrant of the second-level domain name, whose company and systems may not be very robust.
"There is clearly a risk in using such a domain name as the foundation of your company's web presence."