Behind the scenes of Slovaks' fight to liberate their .sk domain

What's really going on in battle to block sale of top-level address


Analysis The Slovak internet community is pressuring its government to block the sale of the country's .sk internet registry, asking for it to "be returned to the people of Slovakia."

Having run the top-level domain (TLD) for over a decade, registry operator SK-NIC announced earlier this year that it was planning to sell .sk and was in talks with London-based Centralnic, which also operates a number of other general and country-specific top-level domains.

The registry has a healthy 360,000 registered domains and charges €10 wholesale to registrars (who then sell the domains onto internet users with a markup). But its systems are outdated and the domain name market has moved rapidly in recent years with the creation of more than 1,000 new generic TLDs.

That makes .sk a poor investment for SK-NIC – which is owned by one of Slovakia's largest telcos, DanubiaTel – and a good acquisition for Centralnic, which already has the modern systems and infrastructure to sell domain names.

However when the news broke that a foreign company was looking to buy the .sk registry, protests were launched claiming, among other things, that the registry had been "stolen" and was now being sold off for profit to a foreign company.

One group has set up a petition that has attracted just under 10,000 signatures and aims to "create public pressure on decision-makers and return .SK back to the community and people."

A number of talks and blog posts have also emerged arguing that a new non-profit organization needs to be set up to run .sk for the people, rather than a publicly listed company.

Those efforts criticize any move away from the current outdated registration system, and any effort to open up registration of .sk domains to people living outside Slovakia. They are also increasingly critical of a small number of government officials that seemingly approve of and are pushing the sale.

Huh

And if those last few complaints seem unusually industry specific and political, that's because of who is behind the campaign: a new breed of internet entrepreneurs who have recently set up their own political party, Progressive Slovakia, and are hoping to steal seats from the mainstream parties.

The people in the party behind the push also happen to be in charge of or employed by the exact same registrars that would profit most from a new non-profit organization running .sk over which they had significant influence.

As for squaring complaints about the .sk registration systems being out of date with insisting that the old registration system be retained: that is almost certainly because it would cost those companies time and money to shift to a new registration system.

And the concerns about making .sk domains available outside Slovakia? It has become common practice for country-code top-level domains to be opened up to anyone worldwide interested in a specific ending. In most cases, it has led to a positive situation where companies use country-specific domains for that market and everyone benefits from a larger registry.

However, if Slovakia's market is opened up and the registration system is moved to an industry standard, it means that large global domain registrars – like GoDaddy, for example - will bring serious competition overnight.

In addition, the main claim that the Slovak top-level domain was "stolen" from a university and given to telco company by government officials doesn't hold much water.

It was extremely common in the early days of the internet for country-code top-level domains to be run by universities and then, as demand grew and national governments became interested, most countries moved to a model exactly like SK-NIC's: a new non-profit run by a company with technical expertise and with a board structure that included government, business and internet community voices.

The exact same approach was introduced in the UK and .uk domain names with Nominet.

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • OpenID-based security features added to GitHub Actions as usage doubles

    Single-use tokens and reusable workflows explained at Universe event

    GitHub Universe GitHub Actions have new security based on OpenID, along with the ability to create reusable workflows, while usage has nearly doubled year on year, according to presentations at the Universe event.

    The Actions service was previewed three years ago at Universe 2018, and made generally available a year later. It was a huge feature, building automation into the GitHub platform for the first time (though rival GitLab already offered DevOps automation).

    It require compute resources, called runners, which can be GitHub-hosted or self-hosted. Actions are commands that execute on runners. Jobs are a sequence of steps that can be Actions or shell commands. Workflows are a set of jobs which can run in parallel or sequentially, with dependencies. For example, that deployment cannot take place unless build and test is successful. Actions make it relatively easy to set up continuous integration or continuous delivery, particularly since they are cloud-hosted and even a free plan offers 2,000 automation minutes per month, and more than that for public repositories.

    Continue reading
  • REvil gang member identified living luxury lifestyle in Russia, says German media

    Die Zeit: He's got a Beemer, a Bitcoin watch and a swimming pool

    German news outlets claim to have identified a member of the infamous REvil ransomware gang – who reportedly lives the life of Riley off his ill-gotten gains.

    The gang member, nicknamed Nikolay K by Die Zeit newspaper and the Bayerische Rundfunk radio station, reportedly owns a €70,000 watch with a Bitcoin address engraved on its face and rents yachts for €1,300 a day whenever he goes on holiday.

    "He seems to prefer T-shirts from Gucci, luxurious BMW sportscars and large sunglasses," reported Die Zeit, which partly identified him through social media videos posted by his wife.

    Continue reading
  • A Windows 11 tsunami? No, more of a ripple as Microsoft's latest OS hits 5% PC market

    Next version of Windows 10 looms around the corner

    Microsoft's Windows 11 OS has notched up a respectable near 5 per cent of PCs surveyed by AdDuplex, as another Dev Channel build was unleashed with new features for the favoured few.

    With less than a month of General Availability under its belt, Windows 11 now accounts for 4.8 per cent of "modern" PCs (Windows Insiders running the OS account for 0.3 per cent) according to the ad platform. The figure is up from the 1.3 per cent in September, which was Insider-only and points to some migration to the production version of the software.

    The figure is both an indicator of Microsoft's cautious approach to releasing its wares and the limited amount of hardware that can actually run the round-cornered OS.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021