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Nominet proposes new code of rules for members

The internet registry for .uk domain names has proposed a new code that would allow it to prevent members associating themselves with its brand if they display a lack of professionalism, integrity or accountability.

Nominet said the draft code would help maintain trust it has built up with its stakeholders. The rules would not apply to all organisations that have registered .uk domain names but would apply to those that had chosen to take up membership with Nominet.

Nominet currently has 2,800 members including internet service providers, law firms, the police and specialist consultants. The members pay a joining fee and annual subscriptions and in return are entitled to discounts on domain name registration fees. Members can also help influence Nominet's .uk policy decisions and have voting rights at the body's annual general meeting.

Under the proposed Members' Code Nominet members would be required to "conduct themselves in a professional manner and avoid behaviour which could reasonably be regarded as bringing Nominet into disrepute". The code would also require members to treat Nominet employees, other members, customers and the public "in a respectful, professional and courteous manner".

Members will also be barred from using their membership status to "improperly ... confer a status which is not associated with membership".

The draft code would also require members to "promptly" notify Nominet if they have links to other members, or when those links change. The links could include holding shares in other Nominet members, being part of the same corporate grouping or having family ties to other members or their directors, the proposals said.

The draft code sets out the process Nominet would follow in the event that it receives a complaint about a member's compliance with its rules. If a member body is found to be in breach of the code Nominet could force them to "remedy the breach", make assurances of future conduct, suspend voting rights, ban the right of the member to display the Nominet member logo and other associated marks and could 'name and shame' them in publishing part of all of its decision, the proposals said.

"As with any successful membership organisation, it is important for us to review how we operate to ensure that we are well equipped to deal with future challenges," Nominet said in a statement.

"As part of this process, we are now seeking views from members on the possible introduction of a Members’ Code that will clarify the process in the unlikely event that a member’s conduct brings the organisation and its members into disrepute. Such issues with our membership are extremely rare but the introduction of a Members’ Code should offer reassuring clarity for all our members. It will also help us all to maintain the trust and respect Nominet and the domain name industry has earned with our stakeholders," it said.

Nominet members have until 23 February to respond to the registry's consultation.

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