F*@K me! Nominet may block 'offensive' words in domain names

You know how the internet is meant to be one of the few remaining forums in which you’re free to speak your mind? That could be set to change in a slightly concerning way. You might think that if you have your own website you're free to say pretty much whatever you want (legality providing), but the UK's domain name registry, Nominet is looking into the possibility of blocking offensive words from domain names.

Perhaps the first question to ask here, is "who decides what is offensive?", and Nominet is not only reviewing its domain registration policy but also asking for input from the public. In its review document, Nominet explains that until now it has "intentionally taken a non-restrictive approach to the words and phrases that may be used in a domain name". The organization goes on to say that it has not "made any value judgement as to the use to which domains are put, or whether they might be offensive or in poor taste" but cites the Republic of Ireland and China as examples of countries in which some restrictions are in place.

Back at the end of July, Nominet was contacted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and discussions took place about the possibility and practicality of blocking offensive words from domain names. From the exchange of correspondence, it does seem as though the policy review has very much been prompted by Government intervention.

Nominet point out that "defining whether something is offensive is a subjective judgement" and cites a couple of examples which might lead to problems. The oft mentioned Scunthorpe problem raises its head once again, and Nominet also suggests therapist.co.uk is a domain that could be read in more ways than one.

Indeed, consider www.psychotherapist.co.uk. Does this refer to the helpful services of a psychotherapist, or is it the home of a more sinister website Psycho The Rapist?

Feel strongly about it one way or the other? Let Nominet know what you think by completing its online survey.

Photo Credit: K. Faraktinov/Shutterstock

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