Staying compliant in times of domain uncertainty

Portfolio Marketing Director

There has been a lot of movement in the domain space recently, partly due to the upcoming compliance deadline for the new European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation, and partly due to the looming Brexit deadline.

The implications of the latter, which involves the United Kingdom withdrawing from the EU, are far-reaching. While there is still a lot of uncertainty around these changes — particularly around trade, law and immigration — the effects are being felt in industries such as retail, financial services and automotive, to name a few.   

It seems that the domain space has not escaped the consequences of Brexit either; the latest missive from the European Commission “Notice to stakeholders: withdrawal of the United Kingdom and EU rules on .eu domain names” makes that very clear.

What isn’t very clear is just what can be expected post-Brexit. Many domain owners are asking the all-important question:

After Brexit, will I lose my .eu domain?

The simple answer to that is: no.

Here’s why not. One of the requirements for having a .eu domain in the first place is that you (as a business or individual) need to reside in an EU member state, or Norway, Iceland or Lichtenstein. Of course, for those in the UK, after Brexit this requirement won’t be fulfilled.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that businesses will lose their domain names. Instead, they can work with registrars, like MarkMonitor, to meet that requirement for a local presence. In effect, the registrar will act as the local presence for the domain.

What we’ve been doing at MarkMonitor, for quite some time now, is working with our clients on streamlining and cleaning up their WHOIS data to get ready for GDPR. In a nutshell, best practice when it comes to entering data on WHOIS, is never using personal information, but rather information related to role, like Domain Administrator or domainadmin@companyname.com. This eliminates the need to keep changing information on WHOIS when staff leave (it can be costly), and takes away the risk of renewal notices being missed because they’re going to unattended email addresses, and ultimately domains expiring unintentionally.

What does this have to do with Brexit? This auditing exercise has meant that our clients have a better idea of which domains they have, especially .eu domains. Which means as the situation with the UK divorce develops further, our clients will be in the best position to move forward and remain in compliance.

The key thing to remember is that at this point in time there is still a lot of uncertainty as to how exactly domains will be affected. There may be contingencies made in the Brexit agreement, there might be separate processes put in place. As the European Commission’s communication stated: … this information is subject to any transitional arrangement that may be contained in a possible withdrawal agreement, which is an ongoing negotiation between the United Kingdom and European Commission.

For now, we’ll continue to watch developments closely and assist our clients in remaining compliant by dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s.

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Alison Simpson
With more than 14 years’ experience in the domain industry, Alison has managed all aspects of Corporate Domain Managem... More