Scots will have their own online identity from this summer, it will be confirmed today, after a near decade-long campaign which was backed by famous names including Sir Sean Connery and Sir Tom Farmer.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – a not-for-profit private company that controls the domain name space – is set to confirm today that website addresses can, in future, end with “.scot” as an alternative to “.co.uk” or “.com”.
That means the new domain could be on general sale before the Commonwealth Games, well before the expected date of early 2015.
It comes after a nine-year campaign by Dot Scot Registry (DSR) to create a separate digital identity for Scots.
First Minister Alex Salmond said last night: “2014 is an exciting year for Scotland, and I’m delighted that this distinct online identity for the nation, and all who take an interest in Scotland, will become available this summer.
“The DotScot domain is long overdue in this digital age, and the worldwide family of Scots who have been waiting patiently since it was first proposed, will soon be able to have this marvellously expressive domain as their online identity of choice.”
Supporters claimed the move could lead to better promotion of Scottish businesses, which would strengthen the nation’s brand around the world, and could also help to highlight Scotland’s heritage and culture.
This follows a decision in 2005 to allow “.cat” to be used by businesses in Catalonia, Spain. Football Club Barcelona is among the organisations which use it.
Scottish-based businesses, charities, individual firms and other groups are expected to be able to use the new domain from July, a year earlier than anticipated.
Gavin McCutcheon, DSR director, said: “Scotland and Scottishness conveys a whole range of positive connotations, which could not really be portrayed on the web before.
“With a DotScot domain there will be a new option for anyone involved in Scottish business, arts and culture and others to identify themselves more clearly as Scottish to the online world. Scotland is a great country, with a great reputation and having a Dot Scot domain will allow people and organisations to clearly identify themselves with that.”
He added that the company’s not-for-profit status would ensure that the cost of domain names would be as affordable as possible.
The Dot Scot campaign was publicly backed by a range of well-known people including First Minister Alex Salmond, businessman Sir Tom and Hollywood legend Sir Sean.
It was revealed in October last year that the international authority had granted permission for a new “.scot” domain, but it had been said that this would not be available until mid-2015. Ministers hope the change could give new opportunities to Scottish firms ahead of this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
It is also believed the extension is likely to be used by the Scottish Government ahead of this year’s independence referendum.