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The ‘.swiss’ Domain Names Will Also Be Available to Swiss Citizens Abroad

Hitherto reserved for companies with a base in Switzerland, the .swiss domain names will be available to the Swiss Abroad from 2024 but only for non-commercial purposes.

On June 28, the Federal Council adopted a revision of the Internet Domain Ordinance to this effect. Since its introduction in 2016, the .swiss domain names have been reserved exclusively for companies in the Swiss commercial register with their headquarters and administrative centre in the country. Others who could benefit from the privilege are for public law bodies and organisations, and Swiss associations and foundations. At the beginning of May 2023, there were approximately 19,000 websites with these domain names, according to the federal authorities.

With the change announced last month, which is part of a revision of the Internet Domain Ordinance (OID), the ball is now in the court of the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM), which is the operator of the domain register. OFCOM will now have to take all the necessary steps to implement the change.

Starting in the first half of 2024, Swiss residents and Swiss citizens living abroad will also be able to add the .swiss domain to their websites. The domain rights come, however, with a number of conditions and restrictions. First, the name being applied for should in principle contain one or more surnames or other names registered in the civil register. In addition, Swiss nationals living abroad will only be able to use their .swiss domain names for private, non-profit or charitable purposes. Hence, businesses run by Swiss citizens abroad will not be able to use it.

The revision of the ODI also provides for measures to strengthen the fight against cybercrime. Until now, a person holding a .ch or .swiss domain name who is suspected of misuse had 30 days to identify himself or herself and notify the Swiss authorities of a postal address of residence in Switzerland. With the new version of the ordinance that has just been approved, they will only have ten days to react and provide evidence.

Finally, an additional provision will be applied to internet sites that have been registered for less than 90 days. OFCOM, when faced with suspicions of abuse, will be able to block the domain in question for ten days, and proceed with its revocation if the holder has not in the meantime allowed themselves to be identified and provided the necessary credentials to use them.

In the early days of the internet there were few choices of domain names available but now there are endless possibilities. Some are eminently practical, i.e. linked to specific production sectors, e.g. .florist or .news. In recent years, however, domains such as .guru or .ninja have also emerged, designed to stand out or attract a specific audience. Domains such as .ch, on the other hand, are referred to as ‘top-level domains’ (TLDs) because of the hierarchical place they occupy in the information system at the root of the Internet.

Source: Swiss Info



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