Community News

Member Spotlight: Nominet—Guardians of the Internet

Published: July 22, 2020

Ken Taylor

Ken Taylor Com Laude Chicago, Illinois, USA INTA Bulletins—North America Subcommittee

Eleanor Bradley (Nominet, UK)

Eleanor Bradley (Nominet, UK)

Most INTA members will know Nominet as the Registry Operator for and .uk domains. Established more than two decades ago, Nominet contributes to the critical national infrastructure and acts as a guardian of the United Kingdom’s Internet namespace by various means—from carefully monitoring the Domain Name System for suspicious activity and deploying innovative cybersecurity measures, to working proactively with law enforcement to identify and remove criminal activity.

“Nominet exists to support and secure millions of businesses and individuals online,” said Eleanor Bradley, Managing Director of Registry and Public Benefit at Nominet. “Profits made from our registry services are invested back into all areas of our businesses, including enhancing our registry services and supporting activities at home and abroad that benefit society at large.”

Ms. Bradley added that everything Nominet does as a business is about boosting connectivity, inclusivity, and security—the three vital elements Nominet considers necessary for a vibrant digital future. Company profits not spent on developing Nominet services are invested in programs that use technology to achieve these elements through Nominet’s Public Benefit business unit. The company’s current focus is on supporting the younger generation, seeking to make a positive and sustainable impact on the lives of one million young people each year.

“For example, we create funding programs to support those already doing great work in areas that we have identified as critical via careful research, by helping extend their reach and supporting them to invest in the digital tools they need,” said Ms. Bradley.

One such program is Nominet’s #RESET Mental Health Support Fund, with money available to charities specializing in young people’s mental health, recognizing the crucial role charities play in supplementing the UK’s over-pressurized health service.

In addition to helping young people directly, Nominet also supports those who are working to address some of the worst examples of criminality online. The company’s “Countering Harms Fund” provides financial support to two of the leading players in the area of online harms: the UK’s National Crime Agency and the Internet Watch Foundation. This enables swifter, more efficient processes that make a real difference to the success of their work and the oftentimes difficult tasks of carrying it out.

Nominet also embarks on partnerships with organizations it admires, such as the Samaritans, a UK charity established in 1953 to provide emotional support to individuals in distress. “We provided technical expertise and funding to help them develop a self-help app, ensuring their services are available 24/7 in a medium that better suits some who find verbal communication challenging,” Ms. Bradley said. “We also have an ongoing relationship with UK Scouting, working together to overhaul their Digital Citizenship badge which helps them better deliver the vital skills young people need for a future lived largely online.”

While most of Nominet’s public benefit activity is the result of months of careful research, the company can also pivot swiftly and invest in rapidly arising areas of need, such as the many issues caused by the current coronavirus pandemic, Ms. Bradley said.

When the UK announced the lockdown, “FutureDotNow” (an existing initiative of which Nominet is a founding partner) launched “DevicesDotNow” to source easy-to-use devices (a tablet or laptop) and connectivity solutions to be distributed, via community channels, to those without Internet access to help them access medical support and social connections without having to leave their homes.

Another burst of responsive activity was with the consultancy, Snook. Nominet collaborated with the UK government and some of the major mobile phone networks, to secure zero-rate access to key websites during lockdown. This action ensured that even those without data or credit on their smartphones could still access critical sites such as for the latest health information.

“I am proud of my team for being able to react so speedily to help push through rapid changes that will make a huge difference to the vulnerable,” Ms. Bradley said.

Beyond the UK’s national namespace, Nominet also works to support trademark owners in running their own top-level dot brand domains, ensuring the safety and security of their intellectual property. “This is registry and public benefit in action—the two elements of my role and a satisfying confluence of the important work that is at Nominet’s heart,” said Ms. Bradley.

She added that Nominet believes as the prevalence of technology grows, the preservation and protection of registries and of online IP—and the crucial, targeted support for the digitally excluded in our society—become ever more vital. “We firmly believe in creating a digital future that benefits all—and live that each day,” Ms. Bradley said.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this article, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

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