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Digital Economy Act 2010

Topic 3: Powers in relation to internet domain names

Background

88.The Act gives powers to the Secretary of State to intervene in the operation of domain name registries. Such registries allocate internet domain names to end users. Internet domain names (such as www.google.co.uk) underpin the addressing system for the internet.

89.The Act confers powers exercisable in circumstances where there has been misuse of domain names, or the use of unfair practices by registries, registrars and end-users of domain names, or where registries have failed adequately to deal with complaints. The powers are only exercisable where those failures have adversely affected or are likely adversely to affect (a) the reputation or availability of electronic communications services or networks in the UK and/or (b) the interests of consumers or members of the public in the UK. The provisions only affect registries which take the form of companies formed and registered under the Companies Act 2006 or limited liability partnerships.

90.The powers are only exercisable in relation to top and second level internet domain name registries (which respectively hold the registers of second and third level internet domains) where the domain is UK-related (see the definitions of "relevant register of internet domain names" and "UK related" in new section 124O(7) and (8)).  An example of a top level domain registry is one which registers second level domain names ending in .uk, and an example of a second level domain registry is one which registers third level domain names ending in .co.uk.

91.The powers allow the Secretary of State to appoint a manager of a registry or to apply to court to intervene in relation to a registry’s constitution in order to secure that the registry remedies specified serious failures.

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