The next step in our drive to improve Data Quality – Eleanor Bradley

20th November 2013

As a registry we want to ensure that the information we hold for registrants of .uk domain names is accurate so one of our key tasks at Nominet is to work to continuously maintain and improve the quality of the data that we hold. This information is then published via our WHOIS tool so that anyone can find out who is responsible for a .uk domain. This work plays an important part in ensuring that the .uk namespace is and remains a trusted and safe space.

As the register has grown and the internet has taken a greater role in society and our everyday lives, the WHOIS tool’s ability to provide the name and contact details for registrants has become increasingly relevant and useful to consumers, rights-holders and law enforcement agencies.

With over 10.5 million .uk domains in the register and almost 200,000 new registrations a month ensuring all the data is up-to-date and accurate is a major task. Two years ago we kicked off a major programme of work which has lead to over two million records being checked. While this is good progress, we’re keen to go further so we’re now planning a second phase of work, underpinned by the publication of our first formal Data Quality Policy.

The new draft policy sets out our expectations across the entire .uk namespace. It establishes, for the first time, a minimum threshold of registrant data that needs to pass first time. We recognise that different registrar business models will affect how challenging this is. For example it’s reasonable to expect that a registrar registering domains in their own name will supply their own details accurately every time, while a large retail registrar may find this more challenging. However, ultimately all domains across the whole database need to be associated with high quality registrant data so we will work with registrars and registrants to resolve issues when they arise.

As part of the policy, our WHOIS database will begin to show whether the data relating to a particular registration has been validated, which should help consumers, rights-holders and law enforcement agencies to get an understanding of the integrity of the information they find.

We are also planning to launch a tool to enable registrars to make data quality reporting to us as seamless and consistent as possible.

We’ve published a draft policy for comment with a background narrative which gives greater detail regarding our commitment to high standards of data quality, the expectations that we have of our registrars, and our own broader priorities.

As it stands, the .uk namespace already has a very high standard of data quality; in fact, we believe it to be among the highest of all top-level domains. By introducing this policy we can take this standard to the next level and support a trusted, thriving and vibrant internet economy from which we’ll all benefit.