The internet registry for .uk domain names has launched a consultation (20page / 257KB PDF) on plans to allow firms to register web addresses ending just '.uk'.
Companies with existing domain names rooted at '.co.uk' would not be obliged to switch to a '.uk'-only address-ending, however Nominet said that the new shorter web address offering would come with new security features.
"We want to provide a really safe and secure place for British business to work online and for UK consumers to really enjoy the internet, so these domain names will come with a series of features which we think will add to the safety and security," Eleanor Bradley, Nominet's director of operations, said.
"The registrant of a '.uk' domain name would need to be UK based. Malware scanning will [also] help to avoid websites unintentionally distributing malware or viruses. The next [feature is] DNSSEC which is a protocol that provides a digital signature on a domain name that helps ensure that, as a user, you reach a site that you think you are going to. All of these would be brought together in a trustmark which would really provide assurance to users of these domain names that it is a safe and secure space," she added.
"This is about greater choice so if you are currently using a '.co.uk' domain name then there would be no requirement to change and actually this is a very different product we are talking about. But if you wanted to then it is something you could look to do either immediately or over time. A new domain space like this also provides an opportunity for all the new businesses that are coming online to have a suitable domain name that accurately describes their business," Bradley said.
Nominet said that its proposals would "further support the economic growth of the UK internet" and "help guard against cybercrime". The body's consultation is open until 7 January 2013.
Plans to expand the number of generic 'top-level' domains (gTLDs) are already in motion under a scheme devised by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), which is the body that oversees the identification of websites.
Top level domains are the suffixes to addresses and include familiar address endings such as .com, .org and .net. The first round of applications for the new gTLDs opened in January and closed in May. In June ICANNt published the full list of 1930 potential new gTLDs that have been applied for in its first round of applications. The applications were made by many individual organisations or trade bodies, including Apple, Google and Microsoft. Examples of the domains applied for includes .bbc, .bank, .google and .london, with many firms competing for ownership of single domains.