Ex-auDA Director, Simon Johnson resigned from auDA on the 24th November, 2017.
auDA appeared to not have much to say about Mr Johnson leaving at the time.
Today, Mr Johnson weighs-in on the potential damage the proposed PRP Final Report recommendations could have on Australian domain names.
Read Simon Johnson’s scathing letter:
Final Report: Recommendations to the auDA Board: Reform of Existing Policies & Implementation of Direct Registration
Thanks for the opportunity to respond to the report released for public comment.
As you know, I’m a former Board Director of auDA, former Chair of the Board Security and Risk Committee and have more than 25 years’ experience in the Internet industry.
I am very concerned about the consequences of such a radical shift in policy and make the following observations:
- auDA has no mandate to impose restrictions on Australian companies, as to how they use domain names. For example, reviewing website content to determine eligibility. auDA is not the “Internet Police” and this is a textbook case of overreach.
- auDA has no mandate to impose restrictions on what it calls “resale and warehousing”. I believe this would constitute misuse of market power.
- The buying and selling of domain names is a legitimate business model, and has been operating since before auDA was founded. This is a sign of a healthy, mature marketplace and auDA should be promoting it, instead of doing the exact opposite.
- According to auDA’s own documents, the Public Consultations held by auDA had “approximately 85 people” attend for the entire country of Australia. This is not statistically significant, and the feedback or results should not be used to formulate policy. The same applies to Focus Groups and the Public Consultation Paper.
- Both the Panel and auDA have presented no evidence to demonstrate that domain monetisation or “resale and warehousing” is an issue.
- There is no clear benefit in proceeding with Direct Registration, under the proposed model, at this time. Opening up the .au namespace is seen by many people in the industry as a high risk “cash grab” that adds no value. I believe such a radical shift in policy will cause confusion in the marketplace and force small business to spend more money, defensively registering domain names, that they may not even use.
I’d caution the auDA Board, that attempts to impose restrictions (per the items above) will be seen as anti-competitive behaviour and will not be supported by large segments of the Internet industry. In the event auDA changes policy and then retrospectively goes back and suspends or cancels domain names, Australian businesses who have invested in these .au assets will suffer a loss. Such an action would signal a catastrophic sovereign risk to the market and could reduce investment in Australia’s digital economy.
Given the substantial negative impact these proposed changes will have on Australian companies, I strongly recommend the Board does not proceed with the proposed changes.