dotCYM has been ready for years to apply for a TLD. The company was structured to ensure that it was accountable to the Welsh community. The technical side was ready to sell domains worldwide. dotCYM has even secured a $185,000 loan to pay for the application in case the Welsh Government reneged on its promise of a loan.
dotCYM were, however, unable to convince the civil servants that Wales should have its own TLD, run from Wales, by the Welsh and accountable to the Welsh people. "What's wrong with .uk?", "why don't we just get Nominet to do it for free? ". The civil servants showed no ambition or imagination. No understanding of top-level domains and no urge to work towards bringing innovation, expertise, jobs and money to Wales.
Unfortunately, before the submission date was announce by ICANN, the governing body of names on the Internet, (12th January 2012 - 12th April 2012) there was a change of government. dotCYM warned Plaid Cymru and Ieuan Wyn Jones, who was the minister responsible for a TLD for Wales, that unless they took urgent steps to guarantee that the Welsh TLD would be run from Wales there was a high risk that the new Labour minister would approach Nominet to apply for a .wales.
Nothing was done. Edwina Hart became the Minister responsible and she has refused to talk to or meet dotCYM and the civil servants approached Nominet to bring them into the game.
Carwyn Jones and Edwina Hart have stated that the Welsh Government has no interest in doing anything except for giving one applicant the "letter of no objection" that is needed as part of the application. It is unheard of for a Government to show so little interest in its own top-level domain. The London, Scottish, Basque, Galician and Breton Governments are working very close with their local applications for their names online.
Nominet has commissioned London Economics, LE Cymru and YouGov to create a document that shows that the name of the TLD should be .wales instead of .cymru, although the majority of the people of Wales want a .cymru. Instead of doing its own research the Government seems to be clinging on to every word of this research document. Yes, since the civil servants don't understand TLDs the Government is taking advice from the document commissioned by the corporation trying to protect its monopoly of the market! dotCYM has never been consulted and there is no one else to questions Nominet's misleading polls and research.
Last Friday the Government invited potential applicants to compete for the letter of no objection that's required from the Government as a part of the application to ICANN (http://sell2wales.co.uk/notices/display.html?NoticeId=28474).. With a deadline of 6th of January, just three weeks away and over the Christmas holidays, this makes it almost impossible for dotCYM to find the 300,000 investment it needs and so the civil servants and the Government have successfully paved the way for Nominet, an Oxford-based company, to take ownership and control of .wales (and they may go for .cymru as well if forced to). Once Nominet owns Wales' name and brand online, the Welsh will never regain control of it. Nominet are not accountable to the Welsh people in any way. They can create a Welsh front with an Advisory Committee and even open an office in Wales with a token Welsh-speaker to give phone support, but that doesn't change the fact that the policy will be decided by people foreign to the Welsh community.
Of course, as well as losing ownership and control of our TLD, this will result in the loss of the jobs, special expertise and money that would have come into Wales.
Nominet has tried to persuade the London and Scottish governments that it should own and run their TLDs. Both rejected the idea and are working with local companies to deliver a successful TLD. Nominet may eventually run the technical side of .london but it would not own and control it. The Bretons, Basques and Galicians are doing the same - a local company, accountable to the people it represents, cooperating closely with the Government. But this is not the case in Wales where there was no support or interest in a local initiative.
It's very unlikely that dotCYM will be able to put a bid up against Nominet on the 6th of January. Even with the big potential return of investment we've found that companies can't make decisions quickly enough to turn this around before the deadline. If someone has access to money that they are able to invest, please contact us.
All hope is not lost. A top level-domain is not a devolved issue; the last word resides in London. The real letter of no objection must come from Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries. dotCYM hopes that the Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians can show the leadership needed here to try to save this grave injustice and ensure the Welsh keep control of their name online.
You, as dotCYM's supporters, have as much power as dotCYM now to try to make the Government realise the error of its ways and keep control in Wales and ensure that there's an application for a .cymru as well as a .wales. dotCYM had the resources to apply for and run a TLD but not to compete against Nominet. Your help is now vital.
You can contact your local AM and MP. More Labour politicians need to become aware of the situation and Conservative and Lib Dem politicians can put pressure on the UK Government. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport in London has experts in Internet governance that understand the importance of community TLD applications such as ours to increase diversity and competition on the Internet. Since this is not a devolved issue it's important that they realise that it's their responsibility to ensure that Wales gets the TLD it wants and needs and not one that has its policy decided in Oxford.
For more details on the situation or information on how you can help please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and follow us on Twitter (@dotcymru)
Please contact your Member of Parliament.