Scottish companies were warned this week over the promotion of the .sc top level domain (TLD) as a Scottish identity on the Internet.
UK registry Nominet, which oversees the .uk domain name, said Scottish businesses that are attracted by the offer of a .sc domain name should be aware that they may not be getting what they think. The .sc domain in fact denotes a Seychelles business.
Nominet is concerned that Internet firm SC Registrars is promoting the .sc domain as being Scottish. On the front page of its Web site, SC Registrars promotes the Scottish connection heavily. "Do you want to put Scotland on the Internet map?" it reads, adding that "SC Registrars affords Scots and Scottish businesses for the first time with the opportunity of a unique Domain Name which emphasises their Scottish identity."
In fact, despite several efforts to create a country code domain name for Scotland, there isn't yet one. Dr Willie Black, managing director of Nominet, was quick to point out that Nominet, being a not-for-profit organisation, does not want to stop people or businesses registering .sc domains. "We don't mind... we want to respect anybody's wishes (to register domains in other countries)," he said, but added that there could be issues for Scottish companies registering .sc domains.
"While there is nothing inherently wrong with having a Web address which ends .sc," said Black, "people should be aware what this means before they sign up." Web addresses ending .sc are controlled by the Seychelles Registry, Atlas (Seychelles) Ltd.
"If the Seychelles government were to come along and say we don't like all these Scots registering domains in our country, there is clearly a business risk for both the registrant and SC Registrars."
Black said he was also concerned that SC Registrars appeared to have no contact information on its Web site, making it difficult for people to find out where the company was based. "If there is no furtiveness, why not be honest about (where you are based)," said Black. "Transparency is important."
The reason that Scotland does not have its own domain is a political one as much as a technical one. A two-letter domain such as .uk would have to be agreed upon by the International Standards Organization (ISO), said Black. The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands have been granted two-character domains (.im, .gg and .je), but Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have not. "The government's policy is that we have devolution but not independence in Scotland," said Black, "and they said they would not support a bid for Scotland to have its own two-character top-level domain."
However, there are other possibilities. A top level domain with three or more characters (such as .scot) could be created by ICANN in the same way that it introduced the seven new TLDs recently, including .biz and .info. There is also the possibility of a .scot.uk, said Black. "They did apply for this, but the general feeling of the Nominet membership was that this was too restrictive."