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The Internet

uk.co Domains Knocked Offline By Registrar Dispute 304

An anonymous reader writes "The .uk.co domain was wiped off the face of the Internet this morning with no notice, leaving more than 8,000 livid individuals and businesses - including Amazon and Priceline - with no Web presence or email. I saw this on nvnews.net, which originally came from the register, but since the domain is wiped out, you can no longer reach the article." Actually, you can read the story fine on theregister.co.uk. ;)
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uk.co Domains Knocked Offline By Registrar Dispute

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  • by KNicolson ( 147698 ) on Monday February 17, 2003 @09:43PM (#5322833) Homepage
    leaving more than 8,000 livid individuals and businesses - including Amazon and Priceline - with no Web presence or email.

    As The Reg article says, it was used by these two companies, for example, to catch people who typed http://www.amazon.uk.co by accident. Both these two still have their co.uk versions working successfully.

  • by bstadil ( 7110 ) on Monday February 17, 2003 @09:44PM (#5322834) Homepage
    These domains are just a revisit of deceptive sites that uses common misspellings. Like amason.com
  • Sub Judice... (Score:5, Informative)

    by $$$$$exyGal ( 638164 ) on Monday February 17, 2003 @09:44PM (#5322836) Homepage Journal
    What went wrong we may find out tomorrow as a Colombian judge decides whether Net Registrar has the continued right to the domain. Until then, Robert Fox tells us, he considers the matter sub judice and so does not want to comment further.

    For those that don't know, "sub judice" means that Mr. Fox doesn't want the media to do something that would influence the judge.

    --sex [slashdot.org]

    • Either that or it's the Israeli Underground system.

      (Credit to I'm Sorry, I Haven't A Clue, from which I stole the joke ...)

    • Re:Sub Judice... (Score:3, Informative)

      by kfg ( 145172 )
      More specifically it means "under" (sub) "judicial review" (judice).

      In other words rules of behaviour in public that could effect the case apply. This includes making statements to the public that could influence a judge or jury. Or for that matter doing *anything* that could blow your case, like, ohhhhh, confessing to a buddy or harassing a witness.

      Under some jurisdictions violating sub judice can actually bring charges of contempt of court. I don't know if Columbia is one of these.

      Sequestering jurors is based on the principles of sub judice.

      Or, as it is more commonly explained by lawyers to their clients:

      "Look, just stay home and keep your damned mouth shut. Ok?"

      KFG
  • Uh-oh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Doctor Sbaitso ( 605467 ) on Monday February 17, 2003 @09:44PM (#5322838) Journal
    What's with all these top-level domains disappearing? First .name, now .uk.co... I'm just glad I still have my trusty old .cx domain name.
  • No big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday February 17, 2003 @09:49PM (#5322868) Homepage
    There were only 8,000 domains in "uk.co", and they were mostly slimeballs anyway, trolling for people who don't know they should be typing "co.uk". No big loss.
  • Cast a .co.uk domain to an idiot, and you get Colombia... It's not that big of a deal.
  • by Riomaggio ( 313955 ) on Monday February 17, 2003 @09:53PM (#5322887)
    So, by wiping out this domain we avoid the typical web user playing through the following scenario:

    1) Web user thinks: "I need to order a book, let's go to Amazon"
    2) Web user types: "amazon.uk.co"
    3) Web user sees 15,000 porn sites pop up
    4) Web user starts to sweat, looks around office, hopes no one walks by
    5) Web user clicks furiously, but fails to keep up with the rush of pop-ups, pop-unders, and installation prompts
    6) Web user co-worker walks by, see's web user sweating, moaning softly and clicking so fast his/her hand is a blur
    7) Web user hits reset button on PC, loses all work, but manages to stem the tide of porn
    8) Web user sees co-worker next in cafeteria next day sitting with several other people, all are looking at web user and snickering...

    It's happened to all of us, admit it! Getting rid of "spam" domains is a good thing!

    Now, if they could could just get rid of whitehouse.com, I'd have a lot more respect for the American government!

    • by agentZ ( 210674 ) on Monday February 17, 2003 @10:06PM (#5322953)
      Now, if they could could just get rid of whitehouse.com, I'd have a lot more respect for the American government!

      The US Government can't own or enforce a copyright or trademark, so they can't, by law, go after whitehouse.com. That being said, however, I'm sure the good folks at White House Apple Juice [whitehousefoods.com] have other ideas!
      • by Tumbleweed ( 3706 ) on Monday February 17, 2003 @10:40PM (#5323065)
        I thought whitehouse.com was for renting out the Lincoln Bedroom, and for other PAC commercial activities? :)
    • by damiam ( 409504 )
      Winkey-M minimizes all windows - the perfect solution for a time such as this. (Actually, the perfect solution is Mozilla, but let's not go there).
      • Too many 90 hour weeks... I read that as "winky-M" and wondered who had come up with a "porn user protection program"...

        Happy Linux user, forgetful of those cute winky keys... :-)

    • Not all of us use IE. Some of us use mozilla or opera, and don't have to deal with browser trapping.

      Yes, browser traping is annoying, and yes, I've even come across webpages that pop up a window even when unrequested windows are disabled in mozilla.
      But the torrental flood of porn ads is entirely avoidable.

      Then again you mentioned work, so maybe you're not allowed to install software on there.
    • You and everyone else that laughs at that, go to Fox Searchlab and watch farmsluts [foxsearchlight.com] (no porn shown) [17 minute clip, Quicktime format]. I'll spare you the details so you can laugh about it while watching it.
    • Now, if they could could just get rid of whitehouse.com, I'd have a lot more respect for the American government!

      I thought that .com was not supposed to be US specific. That's what the usual slashdot complaint is. Why is it the problem of the US government?
    • It's happened to all of us, admit it!

      Actually, I just use Mozilla, and turn off popups. I also turn off images and JavaScript in my e-mail.
      • Actually, I just use Mozilla, and turn off popups. I also turn off images and JavaScript in my e-mail.

        I love Evolution's option that will show images in emails that are actually embedded in the email, but refuses to go out to the 'net to retrieve any images. And if the mail is from someone you trust, just hit view/message display/load images (or make a toolbar button for it) to load them only for the one email.

        99% of real messages use embedded images, and 99% of spam tries to fetch them (and possibly track your address) from somewhere else.

        Every mail client should have that option. Except maybe mutt.
  • Good riddance (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Stormie ( 708 ) on Monday February 17, 2003 @09:56PM (#5322902) Homepage

    Just like it would be good riddance if the .au.com domains [au.com] dropped off the internet. These scammers register a single .com domain for $15/year or whatever and then try so sell as many ".au.com" domains as they can, all pure profit, to suckers who couldn't get the .com.au domain they wanted.

  • by Yoda2 ( 522522 ) on Monday February 17, 2003 @09:58PM (#5322920)
    Did you know that ICANN requires you to have a physical address in your registrar record? Someone tried take one of my ".net" domains on a technicality because I had a P.O. Box listed. More info here [greatmindsworking.com].
  • I doubt it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by carpe_noctem ( 457178 ) on Monday February 17, 2003 @10:07PM (#5322961) Homepage Journal
    ...leaving more than 8,000 livid individuals and businesses - including Amazon and Priceline - with no Web presence or email

    Somehow I doubt that amazon's web and email presence was severely limited by the lack of an amazon.uk.co domain.
  • by kyz ( 225372 ) on Monday February 17, 2003 @10:09PM (#5322965) Homepage
    Bye bye to Castle Technologies, Linux kernel pirates*. Why you couldn't just use castle.co.uk in the first place, we may never know.

    *: ALLEGEDLY
  • by carpe_noctem ( 457178 ) on Monday February 17, 2003 @10:12PM (#5322974) Homepage Journal
    From www.uk.co:

    Since December 2002, we had offered to enter into a new arrangement with Net Registrar in order to safeguard your uk.co registrations with them for a short period of time to allow you sufficient time to transition to alternative domain names. ....

    A Council of State decision in Colombia dated 12 July 2002 ordered the Minister of Communications in Colombia to take over the administration of .co top level domain names by no later than 31 December 2003.


    They had been planning this since July, and while they were supposed to have done it on the 31st of December, they actually seem to have given all the .uk.co people nearly two months to find new domains. It's not like they just swept the rug out from underneath their feet as the reg's article seems to imply (though the article does mention that this was mandated last July).
  • by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Monday February 17, 2003 @10:20PM (#5322998)
    Remember Castle Software from the GPL violation articles on /.? You know, the guys who (supposedly) ripped off GPLed kernel code for RISC OS. Yup, they were www.castle.uk.co. Not anymore. The vengeful spirit of RMS is seeking revenge on these bastards by knocking out the whole uk.co faux-domain.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 17, 2003 @10:23PM (#5323015)

    They should make a .cum top level domain for all the porn sites. YouMomDrinks.cum would be a good place to start.
  • by KFury ( 19522 ) on Monday February 17, 2003 @10:26PM (#5323029) Homepage
    I can't figure out why http://com.fury [com.fury] isn't resolving...

    Farging bastages...
  • .uk.co != .co.uk (Score:4, Informative)

    by dnoyeb ( 547705 ) on Monday February 17, 2003 @10:32PM (#5323046) Homepage Journal
    After banging my head on the desk I finally deciphered that the domain removed was .uk.co and NOT .co.uk.

    Appearantly enough people though it would be cool? if you had .co.uk to also have .uk.co!?

    Who gives a flying ratz ass about .uk.co??? When you get the 'free pron' site or the 'this domain available' message you know you took a wrong turn...

    OK, let me humble myself for a moment. Any Europeans care to suggest to me that its a good idea to have both because some European languages...etc..???
    • When .co.uk started being charged for, there was a small outcry from many who felt that the fees were extortionate. One of the first solutions to this were from a company that registered "uk.com", and promoted subdomains as an alternative to .co.uk with limited success.

      I would assume the same principle was behind .uk.co.

  • What's going on... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Tailhook ( 98486 ) on Monday February 17, 2003 @10:58PM (#5323119)

    Ok, I read the The Register article and attempted to glean some meaning from all it's implied context. What follows is my initial attempt to interpret what is going on...

    The university [University of the Andes in Bogota, current owner of the CO. top level domain] announced in June 2001 that it was selling off the domain [uk.co.] to the highest bidder

    The school is trying to make a quick buck by selling the UK.CO. second level domain to another registrar. UK.CO. is the reverse of CO.UK. Why does anyone care about UK.CO.?

    The idea of the .uk.co names is either to act as an alternative to .co.uk if the domain has already gone or to capture the large number of Internet users that type the address in the wrong way around.

    So if your a psycho activist and you hate Nike you might want to get nike.uk.co. and host a bunch of dubious Nike atrocity information to impress your psycho activist friends. A marginally legitimate use for UK.CO. is to return something sensible when someone makes a tyop. However, this fosters confusion, IMHO. Basically UK.CO. is a dark little corner of the DNS world that we'd all probably be better off without.

    Apparently (although the The Register article does not say this,) the school sold the UK.CO. to some outfit called Net Registrar. The Columbian Government (a sovereign nation that ultimately has the school by the short hairs,) was not happy about this. The Man was so pissed (not to mention jealous they didn't think of it first) about the school playing fast and lose with CO. that they decided to take over CO. This was to happen in December 2003.

    The following fun ensued as Daddy (Columbia) started setting deadlines:

    In December 2002, the University informed Net Registrar of the impending transfer [to daddy] and tried to draw up a new arrangement with the company.

    Ok. Lots of implied stuff here. No mention of what the "new arrangement" looked like.

    The following is guesswork, and I'll bet it's damn close: The school figures it's got a year to extort Net Registrar because daddy doesn't take away the toys until the end of 2003. So, the "new arrangement" includes a few small increases in price and changes to payment terms.

    Meanwhile, Net Registrar is like "whoa, we don't even know whether we get to keep CO.UK. after Daddy gets here," and does this:

    Net Registrar immediately put a stop to all new registrations and attempted to get assurances from all involved over maintenance of the .uk.co domains.

    The PR spin from the school sums all of the above up like this:

    The university claims that it "sought to agree a new arrangement with Net Registrar to facilitate the transition by Net Registrar's customers to new domain names", but "Net Registrar did not agree to the terms of this new arrangement", and so it cut them off.

    The PR spin from Net Registrar looks like this:

    "Since we received notice from the Registrar [the school] that it may cease to have responsibility for the .co domain we have been trying to obtain assurances on the maintenance of the uk.co subdomain. [obtain assurances probably means negotiations with Daddy] To date we have received no such assurances. [Why should Columbia make Net Registrar any promises, there is a clear opportunity to extort a shiny little penny here!]. In order to prevent the possible termination of the service we have been obliged to issue proceedings in the High Court of Colombia."

    Possible termination? Terminated pal. All your base are belong to us. The school neatly sliced your UK.CO. clean off. Restrict your business dealings to grown-ups next time.

    With the Colombian government assuming control of the domain and wishing to invite international investment, it is unlikely to adopt a year zero approach to domains and so Net Registrar should retain control of www.uk.co and hence continue to be able to sell .uk.co domains.

    Yeah, Net Registar is likely to keep its SLD after the right Columbia hands get greased. In the meantime, they and the Government need to see what they can do to reign in the school. Nothing to see here folks, please move along.


    • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @12:32AM (#5323511) Homepage Journal
      it is fascinated how the most bigoted and ill thought out verbiage end up at the top of the moderation.

      So if your a psycho activist and you hate Nike you might want to get nike.uk.co. and host a bunch of dubious Nike atrocity information to impress your psycho activist friends.
      This has nothing to do with the issue. Whether it is psyco Nike haters, or porn operators, or whatever, the ultimate issue is only whether Universidad de los Andes had a right to turn off the second level domain. We care because turning off domains without notice is A Bad Thing(tm). A second issue is whether the people that purchased the right to that domain made an honest effort to negotiate, and whether they communicated well with their customers.

      The following is guesswork, and I'll bet it's damn close: The school figures it's got a year to extort Net Registrar because daddy doesn't take away the toys until the end of 2003. So, the "new arrangement" includes a few small increases in price and changes to payment terms.
      I do not see who charging fair market value, or even deciding that a product is no longer worth the effort, is extortion. I might choose to clean your house, but I have a right to ask for any amount of money to do so. You have the right to decline my offer, and I have the right to leave. The fact that you are about to have a dinner party is of no consequence unless there is a written contract. Likewise, if you choose to hire me even though the government says you shouldn't, it isn't my fault when you get into trouble. Business is based on supply and demand, and products are removed from market all the time because they are no longer profitable. If the uk.co domain was so profitable, the resellers should have taken the issue more seriously and at least set up some contingency plans.

      Possible termination? Terminated pal. All your base are belong to us. The school neatly sliced your UK.CO. clean off. Restrict your business dealings to grown-ups next time
      I wonder who the children are here. The University personnel who probably represent some of the best minds in the hemisphere, and were only responding to an offer for an addition revenue stream to help educate the students, or the get-rich-quick-script-kiddies who decided that co.uk might be a way to avoid real work for another couple years.

      Given the disrespect shown to developing countries by the imperialists, I suspect the negotiations went something like this. A token sum of money was offered to the university. The university was told to take it or leave it. The university said no. A gamble was taken that the university could be forced to take the token sum of money, so no contingency plans were developed. After all, they are just stupid savages, so we can just pay someone off. We are very used to going into developing countries and taking what we want. The arrogant strategy did not work, and the domain was shut down. One can even detect the arrogance in the Register article, decrying the unfairness to legitimate first world companies.

      • by Tailhook ( 98486 )
        it is fascinated how the most bigoted and ill thought out verbiage end up at the top of the moderation.

        WRT verbiage, that would be fascinating.

        This has nothing to do with the issue. Whether it is psyco Nike haters, or porn operators, or whatever, the ultimate issue is only whether Universidad de los Andes had a right to turn off the second level domain.

        Apparently I touched a nerve. Criticizing activists and their supporters tends to do that. Porn operators, typo domains, activists... it doesn't matter. That sort of activity probably dominates the UK.CO. domain. I singled out activists. So what. Get over it. ...and its psycho

        I do not see who charging fair market value, or even deciding that a product is no longer worth the effort, is extortion.

        You have absolutely no knowledge of terms of the schools new offer to Net Registrar. Neither do I. I, however, qualified my speculation as exactly that. You wish that I would assume something similar to the following?

        The University personnel who probably represent some of the best minds in the hemisphere, and were only responding to an offer for an addition revenue stream to help educate the students

        The CO. TLD is run by a school most likely because there were few other organizations in Columbia with any interest in doing so at the time CO. was created. That's noble. On the other hand I am not so naive as to assume that just because it's run by a school that it is indemnified of any suspicion. I have no doubt that behind the UK.CO. dispute is a university bean-counter with profiteering ambitions.

        I might choose to clean your house, but I have a right to ask for any amount of money to do so. You have the right to decline my offer, and I have the right to leave. The fact that you are about to have a dinner party is of no consequence unless there is a written contract.

        How capitalist of you.

        I wonder who the children are here. The University personnel who probably represent some of the best minds in the hemisphere, and were only responding to an offer for an addition revenue stream to help educate the students, or the get-rich-quick-script-kiddies who decided that co.uk might be a way to avoid real work for another couple years.

        Someone went into the CO. zone and hacked out the NS delegation records for UK.CO. It wasn't Net Registrar. Whatever arrangement with Net Registrar that was in effect prior to the Columbian government deciding it wanted control probably could have remained in effect until the transition. It didn't happen that way and I suspect it has a lot to do with the revenue the school is about to lose. Whatever went wrong when the school "sought to agree a new arrangement with Net Registrar" probably has everything to do with this.

        I don't know much about Net Registrar. I don't assign any amount of nobility the their existence. All I know for certain is that Net Registrar had an arrangement with the TLD operator, the TLD operator decided to change the terms, and when Net Registrar failed to agree the TLD operator pulled the plug. I can't ascribe much fault to Net Registrar without knowing more. Neither can you.

        Given the disrespect shown to developing countries by the imperialists, I suspect the negotiations went something like this. A token sum of money was offered to the university. The university was told to take it or leave it. The university said no. A gamble was taken that the university could be forced to take the token sum of money, so no contingency plans were developed. After all, they are just stupid savages, so we can just pay someone off. We are very used to going into developing countries and taking what we want. The arrogant strategy did not work, and the domain was shut down.

        That's your speculation. There was an existing agreement. It appears that the "new arrangement" was initiated by the school. In a broader sense this should have been simple. The cost and rules of the existing arrangement should have simply transferred to the new operator (Columbia) in Dec 2003. Someone (the school) had a better idea and things went to hell from there. That doesn't fit your speculation very well, but since neither of us know the full details, your speculation is as good as mine.

        One can even detect the arrogance in the Register article, decrying the unfairness to legitimate first world companies.

        I can't imagine which Register article you've been reading. The one I read contains nothing approaching this. I think you're bitter about something and that translates into some imagined slight [imagines weeping violin sounds].
  • ...and boy is she pissed!
  • by yancey ( 136972 ) on Monday February 17, 2003 @11:29PM (#5323246)

    The .uk.co domain should not be used for such things in the first place. It just confuses people by making them believe they've typed in something properly when they haven't.

    If you can't find something, you go to a search engine to help you find it. Let's not turn DNS in the Domain Category System.

    I would like to see domains be required to register in their proper countries and that we do away with the non-country top-level domains. As we add more TLD's, the Internet just becomes more confusing.

    Would it really be a bother if we had to type http://www.amazon.co.us or http://www.amazon.co.uk instead of http://www.amazon.com?

    • And then it becomes that much easier for governments to censor their citizens
    • by Xaria ( 630117 )

      I completely agree for national companies. So, for example, www.someUSonlycompany.com.us

      But for something that trades in many companies, it's understandable to want www.globalcompany.com

      Mind you, most of the global companies register all over the place. www.sun.com www.sun.com.au Interestingly www.sun.com.us doesn't exist. Race you to the courts! :)

      Seriously, the .com servers must take a hell of a long time to update their records, and if you could take them offline it would have almost as much impact as knocking off the root servers. It's unfortunate that IT tends to be driven by management, rather than practical considerations.

      With regards to your comment about TLDs, if you include the country codes there are a LOT of these already, and each country can define whichever sub-TLDs it wants. In a world of global communications, I think it makes more sense to classify things by catagory rather than location. Things like .edu should be in country codes for sure (why do the US unis get .edu, when everyone else doesn't?), and except for the United nations, so should .gov and .mil. But I don't see any reason why .shop .bet .health .science and so on can't exist, as long as there are reasonable regulations to cover what goes in them. How are they enforced? That's an Ask Slashdot in and of itself. At least this way you have some idea of what you're going for. .com is too generic. If you're a software/hardware company, what's wrong with .comp.com? If you specialise in farm equipment, .farm.com. I applaud the way .name.com is going (tho I wouldn't use it myself because I want to manage for my whole family) or .id.au - you can put your name in some form before .id.au for a personal domain. This makes sense to me.

      Okay, that's about 10c worth.

    • I remember discussing this a while ago...and getting the same (yet still unsatisfying) answer. Who let this happen anyways? The US Government. When they created ARPANET it's doubtful they knew where ths would lead. So they gave .gov to the US government, .edu to US Colleges, etc.

      For reasons like this I agree with the idea of no non-country TLDs (with exception of .int). Every country should get it's own <XXXX>.gov.<YY>, with no one having <XXXX>.gov (the UN can have un.int, as un.gov is a tad creepy). If you're a multinational, have a site for every nation you're in (you can have them all cross-linked if you want). If you're an NGO, get a .org.<YY> in your country of registration. Each country administers its *.<YY> in concert with its own IP laws and customs, and you register wheer you operate. Simple, yet won't happen.

      Pity.
    • Lol.. I use quite often www.amazon.co.uk and sometimes www.amazon.dk or www.amazon.co.jp. These all go to different shops.

      And i hope you also realized the difference between .uk.co and .co.uk?
  • by ddent ( 166525 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @02:22AM (#5323894) Homepage
    I see a lot of posts complaining about how .uk.co subdomains are 'pure profit'. That may well be true, but consider that what they are doing is no different then what Verisign and Affilias and all the other domain registries are doing...
  • So people bought a domain issued by columbia and then were suprised when it turned out to be less than reliable? Well it wouldn't exactly have come as a shock to me.
  • OK, I understand why people who don't understand the way the the DNS works fall for it but what about this example:

    National Curriculum for England online -- http://www.nc.uk.net/ [uk.net]

    How on earth can a UK Government body that could get the .nc.gov.uk domain fall for this scam?

    One positive side effect of the permanant reorganisation of government web sites is that the use of this domain for XML namespaces(!) for the UK National Curriculum (see the metadata standard [uk.net]) has been overtaken by another web site [curriculumonline.gov.uk] dealing with this...

  • Good Riddance (Score:4, Informative)

    by Afty0r ( 263037 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:55AM (#5324608) Homepage
    From TheRegister: "Net Registrar managing director, Robert Fox is not happy. He told us he was "very surprised" at the sudden decision to switch off all the domains and has "no idea" why they took the step. Inevitably, he has been fielding calls all morning from furious domain owners but says "all I can do is take legal action"

    This is a good thing, and very amusing to those of us in the internet industry in the UK. These guys were slimeballs, their sales tactic was as follows:

    1] Phone a company, any company

    2] Tell them "There are too many domains under .co.uk now, so Nominet (the official .uk domain registrar) are scrapping it and starting again. Tell them that if they don't buy yourcompany.uk.co then you won't have a website anymore.
    OR 'Some company just tried to register yourcompany.uk.co but we thought we would phone you to check it was OK. Do you want to register it yourself for a premium?

    3] Offer them the .uk.co domain for an inflated price.

    Despite a couple of phone calls from myself to Nominet, nothing stopped this tide of sales calls - I do feel sad for the 8000 businesses that were scammed out of their money, though having said that, I'm very glad these sleazeballs have been cut off at the knees - extorting money from people in this way is no way to run a business, and I hope they don't get to carry on using the .uk.co domain.

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