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Website Ownership Gets Harder

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New rules for registering website names in Uzbekistan will make it more difficult for owners to claim ownership of a site name and to hang on to it once it has become popular, analysts say.



The regulations, published in the Uzbek press on July 2, were approved by the government agency in charge of IT and telecoms and the justice ministry, and cover all sites in the “-uz” country-code domain.



From September, it will only be possible to pre-book a new website name one week before actually registering it, instead of a month in advance, as is now the case.



In addition, the new rules abolish the current provision of a month’s leeway for giving notice of an application to extend ownership of a site name for a further year. The 30-day grace period, introduced in 2005, has meant that website owners are not penalised if they forget to re-register their site on time, and this has encouraged people to set up internet sites.



In recent years, the number of active web domains in the “-uz” zone has increased at a rate of 18 or 20 per cent annually, reaching almost 7,000 as of July 1 this year.



NBCentralAsia observers say the tighter rules are likely to translate into additional costs and bureaucracy for website owners, and offer greater scope for corruption.



Some of the internet experts interviewed by NBCentralAsia said that with only a week’s notice to pre-book a site name, it would be easy for applicants to miss the deadline if a money transfer was late, or for technical reasons. That would allow a rival to jump in and appropriate a popular site name.



“It is possible that competitors who want to nab a well-publicised domain name will come to an arrangement with the registering authorities and wait for the right moment to oust owners who’ve failed to extend their ownership or make a payment in time,” said a blogger in Uzbekistan.



Alisher Taksanov, an Uzbek journalist now in exile, fear that the new regulations will allow the authorities to turn domain ownership into a free-for-all where the most attractive site names go to the highest bidder.



A website administrator in the capital Tashkent said the pitfalls could be avoided by registering a site in another country domain. In the Russian “-.ru” zone, for example, deadlines for registering and extending site ownership are much more generous.



“There are many websites of local companies and organisations now operating in the Russian or Kazakstan zones,” he said.



(NBCentralAsia is an IWPR-funded project to create a multilingual news analysis and comment service for Central Asia, drawing on the expertise of a broad range of political observers across the region. The project ran from August 2006 to September 2007, covering all five regional states. With new funding, the service is resuming, covering only Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan for the moment.)

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