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Creating a top level domain for Scotland

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Background

A number of people and organisations are calling for a global top level domain (DNS entry or TLD) to be created for Scotland on the Internet.

What this would mean is that Scottish e-mail, WWW, FTP addresses could be assigned a two letter "country" suffix signifying Scotland. Currently Scottish addresses end in .uk or one of the general "international" suffixes such as .net, .com or .org. Scottish businesses in particular, rather than having a Scottish address are forced to use either a "UK" version, or an international one which might already be in use by a different company elsewhere in the world.

From a Welsh point of view, a separate DNS entry also makes sense for companies as limited companies there can put Cyf. (Cyfyngedig) after their names, making their name unique in a Welsh context only. e.g. www.companyname.cyf.<wales-code> corresponding to the current www.companyname.ltd.uk. Welsh context for emails usually does not need any type of conversion like PDF to excel.

The organisation which allocates Internet numbers to names is ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number), http://www.icann.org/

The responsibility was previously handled by http://www.iana.org/ (The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority). The two letter country suffixes which they use are those defined in ISO3166.
This standard is on-line at various locations, one such location is http://www.din.de/gremien/nas/nabd/iso3166ma/codlstp1/en_listp1.html Incidentally, ISO3166 predates the Internet and is used in a wide variety of contexts besides Internet country domains.

Independence is not a prerequisite for getting a country domain. "The codes represent the names of countries, dependencies and other areas of special interest for purposes of international exchange, without indicating expression of any opinion whatsoever concerning the legal status of any country or territory or of its' authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its' frontiers." Any area of "special interest" can get one with the support of the relevant standards body. For instance, the Isle of Man is (.im), Jersey is (.je) and Guernsey is (.gg). These ones slipped through to IANA (the forerunner of ICANN) by "mistake". IANA states:

"Jersey is part of another ISO 3166 list which defines reserved codes. All UPU (Universal Postal Union) codes on this list we allowed into the top level domain list. We have now been advised to not use this reserved code list any further. However, all top level delegations from that list remain current."

It appears that the UK government was not at all pleased about Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man being granted full ISO3166 status. The UK government should have been consulted and their subsequent stance indicates that they would have opposed such a move, as they are presently doing with Scotland.

The codes ICANN now uses are exclusively those from the ISO 3166-1 standard, although codes previously allocated under previous rules are maintained. In particular, uk (seen on most UK e-mail addresses) is not in ISO3166, the appropriate country code in ISO3166 is GB. There is at least one address using this: dra.hmg.gb (hmg.gb is a rough equivalent of gov.uk)

Why GB was the country code in the first place rather than UK is explained here:
http://tinyurl.com/loqh

Britain's (and hence Scotland's) representative on ISO is the British Standards Institute or BSI. They can be reached at mailto: info@bsi.org.uk

The situation in the UK as regards ISO3166 is now rather a mess. Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man shouldn't have codes but do, and the UK's is listed as "GB", but "UK" is what appears in the DNS. Scotland has its own parliament with devolution but still does not have its own DNS entry, even though other areas such as Antarctica do. So do many minor islands. Some of them are barely inhabited (Pitcairn/.pn, population 48). Some are now dependencies of Australia or New Zealand but still have their own ISO 3166 codes and DNS entries. The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are Crown Dependencies rather than parts of the UK or Great Britain (but they are classed as part of the British Isles). Despite what HMG might say on the matter, they *should* have had ISO 3166 codes long ago - they have different legislation, have different postal rates, etc.

The creation of a top level domain for Scotland not only has the support of many IT professionals, but also some manufacturers and Internet providers as well as the SNP led Scottish Government. The .co.uk namespace is also oversubscribed - too many people chasing the same names. That's why Nominet introduced .plc.uk and .ltd.uk - theoretically the names registered at Companies House (and mangled according to Nominet rules to turn them into domain names) are not very memorable.

Even the .plc.uk and .ltd.uk expansion has still resulted in uk.com becoming quite widely used.

One way of increasing the effective namespace is to add Scottish, Welsh, English and Northern Irish TLDs. That *might* be a justification that ICANN would accept for adding those TLDs without ISO 3166 country codes. It is also possible to lodge a case with the domain name arbiter http://www.arbiter.wipo.int/domain_name/start-case/

In contrast to the problems with the DNS, Scotland has had its own usenet domain for a very considerable length of time (in Internet terms). The scot.* hierarchy has been around since at least 1985, more info on this in [20.4]. Furthermore a top level domain may be introduced soon for American Indigenous Peoples. There is also likely to be a ".eu" domain for the European Union. If there is a case for these domains, surely there is a case for Scotland?

Possible codes

The possible codes Scotland could be allocated range from aa to zz although the country codes AA, QM-QZ, XA-XZ and ZZ are reserved by ISO 3166 as user-assigned codes and are not available. There is no process for reassigning codes already in use. Maybe having one might be a step forward?

"Scotland" letter combinations (all allocated):
SC = Seychelles
SO = Somalia
ST = Sao Tome and Principe
SL = Sierra Leone
SA = Saudi Arabia
SN = Senegal
SD = Sudan

"Caledonia" letter combinations:
CA = Canada
CL = Chile
CE = UNASSIGNED
CD = Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)
CO = Colombia
CN = China
CI = Ivory Coast/Cote d'Ivoire

"Alba" combinations
AA = reserved as user-assigned
AB = UNASSIGNED
AL = Albania

Finally, people who use the unofficial "SCO" country sticker on their cars may be surprised to learn that Scotland has been granted an official three letter country designation under part 2 of ISO3166 - this indicates names of subdivisions of countries. Under this standard, Scotland is not SCO but GB-SCT.

For information on the campaign for a top level domain for Scotland, see http://dotscot.net/

It was announced on 13th June 2012 that the dotScot application, http://dotscot.net/ had been accepted by ICANN as part of the new Global Top Level Domain programme and that there were no competing bids for the same gTLD.


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Q-HTML V3.4 by Craig Cockburn created this page on 19-Jun-2012 at 08:06:37