GDS initiative prompts local authorities to consider future of some of their internet domains
About 30 local authority website domains are set to be shut down, prompted by a review by the Government Digital Service.
It has been auditing local government gov.uk domains in search of breaches of its current guidance on accessibility and functionality.
Evans Bissessar of the GDS has outlined the operation in a blogpost. The main purpose has been to correct bad practice, but it has also led to an attempt to rationalise the ownership of domains.
“This is a prime opportunity to start persuading local authorities to retire old domains and consolidate the different services they offer under their main website,” Bissessar says. “Some gov.uk owners don’t realise that defensive registration on gov.uk is not necessary and have a small stockpile of domains.”
He emphasises that, while the costs of maintaining these domains are relatively small, they are unnecessary as non-government users cannot obtain the registrations. After writing to the authorities owning various domains about 30 are earmarked for closure.
The GDS guidance includes a section on defensive registration, saying that sometimes it is necessary to manage risk, but this does not have to be applied to gov.uk domains.
Bissessar also says that he is working with the GDS legal team, government departments and search engine companies to remove a number of domains that are disguised as being from government, but are in fact private companies that mislead users into paying unnecessary fees for service.
Image: public domain through Wikimedia