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UK internet domain now bigger than China's .cn

Record growth for Nominet's top-level domain

The '.uk' top level domain has overtaken China's '.cn' as the internet's second most popular top-level country domain (TLD), registry organisation Nominet has reported in its Domain name industry report.

According to Nominet, which administers TLDs using .uk, such as .co.uk, there are now almost 9 million registered domains bearing the UK country code on the back of record growth rates of 11.5 percent in the last year.

Only Germany's .de country code is currently larger than .uk, out of a global domain population of around 200 million, although this doesn't take into account the proportionally greater popularity of .com domains in the UK.

UK internet growth rates apart, it is also likely that .cn's relative decline might have something to do with a clamp down in on anonymous domain registration in China in January 2010, which was making life easy for spammers and other criminals. Now, full documentation and paper applications are mandatory.

Nominet quoted its own survey figures which showed a marked preference among UK consumers for the second-level .co.uk domain compared to .com for all internet tasks, including commerce.

This could help explain the appetite foreign criminals have shown in the last two years for registering bogus operations using the apparently safe .co.uk country domain in order to sell non-existent or fake goods with a reassuring veneer of locality.

It could be that many UK consumers do not realise that websites can be set up with UK domain addresses from anywhere in the world, and such addresses are not magically overseen by a UK body which can guarantee that they are legitimate.

Earlier this year, UK law enforcement and the US FBI made their feelings clear on the abuse of the Internet open registration structures, calling for ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to tighten up what are called Registration Accreditation Agreements (RAAs). These would try to lance the domain abuse problem which can be traced back in large part to dodgy domain registration companies out to make money.

In other developments, Nominet this week also announced that it plans to put on sale the first batch of one and two-letter domains.

The full Domain name industry report can be downloaded from Nominet's website.

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