There has been a shocking story percolating over the course of this year, and it concerns a senior auDa manager who is responsible for Policy and Strategy.
I’ve been meaning to write this story since I first heard about it earlier this year, but now with auDA’s AGM almost upon us, I’ve got no choice but to let as many Australian entrepreneurs and domain investors know what is really going on over at auDA (.au Domain Administration).
It has often been suggested by those who have dealt with this person at auDA that she “dislikes” domain investors. Now, Domainer has effective proof of this.
By way of background, this person was auDA’s staff member on the Policy Review Panel, and is responsible for putting together the new Australian domain name licensing rules (which still haven’t be approved, with delay after delay being announced.)
Domainer can report that we were reliably informed that back in January this year this particular person mislead a Federal Government department over the rights of a well know domain investor to use a particular 3-letter domain name (one on auDA’s Reserved List). The domain investor had just received written permission to use the domain from the particular Government department, but the approval was not addressed to the correct entity. A member of auDA’s compliance team asked the domain investor to go back and get that slight adjustment sorted out.
Cutting a long story short, (that we intend to expand upon in future articles), the domain investor tried – and tried – and tried to have the slight amendment adjusted. Time ticked by as the domain approached expiration in June this year.
Unfortunately though, the slight amendment that was needed for the ‘already approved’ permission letter via email from the Federal Government department never came.
After what seemed like an eternity, finally, the domain investor did receive another letter from the Government department, but it now refused him permission to use the domain name because among other things, “he was a domain investor who specialises in reselling domains”.
What could have caused this complete backflip by the Government department?
One minute they’re giving written permission to use the generic-three-letter-acronym domain name, the next… well, quite a while later… they’re backflipping and refusing…
On smelling a rat because of the language used in the refusal, the domain investor pursued the matter through FOI requests and further extensive research.
What happened next not only caused him to deeply worry about his own domain name asset portfolio, but also for the thousands of Australian entrepreneurs and domain investors who own many valuable domain names.
He learned that this senior auDA employee had effectively engaged in misleading the Government department. And in his opinion, this was the catalyst for him losing the domain.
Yep, you read that right.
Domainer has been reliably informed that this person told her contact in the Government department that the domain investor and his company had previously applied to the same Minister for permission to use reserved-name domains, and had been refused.
We can’t say this any simpler – in this case, Domainer has reason to believe that this auDA Manager wasn’t stating facts – which is like not telling the truth.
What they told the Government department, never happened.
But because this senior auDA employee apparently stated the above to her contact in the Government department, it caused the domain investor and his company to lose the valuable domain he had purchased and held for many years. He also lost many years of renewal expenses. Plus he was denied the opportunity to monetise the domain.
At that point – about two months ago – the domain investor wrote a letter to the new auDA CEO Rosemary Sinclair outlining all his concerns and asking for investigation and rectification. He also asked that the letter be presented to the auDA Board, but he’s not sure if this happened. Domainer has been told she has effectively ignored him – and that she now seems to be trying to bury it. So much for accountability and transparency.
For those interested, auDA’s Code of Conduct states in part:
• “fair and equitable treatment of all people”; and
• “maintaining the highest level of personal and professional behaviour; and
• “exercising care and due diligence”.
In particular, they state that they:
• do not knowingly make or support statements that are misleading, untrue or defamatory
• take reasonable steps to ensure adequate protection of confidential and personal information
Where does this leave the domain investor now?
And what does this sort of conduct by the heads of the .AU Domain Administration show to the Australian entrepreneur and domain investor community? And to the Minister responsible?
The domain investor had his domain stripped from him in June. And it’s now locked out from anyone ever acquiring it unless permission is granted from Government.
We’re not joking here.
Think about that for a moment.
A generic, three-letter acronym domain name is now permanently “Reserved By Registry“.
There would be at least 20 companies in Australia that we could come up with in a few minutes that could make good use out of this three-letter generic acronym ‘commercial-entity’ domain name. Easy.
What has happened is simple.
This senior auDA Manager appears to have taken it upon herself to make a false or incorrect statement to a Federal Government department, all for, what seems to be, for the possibility of stripping a domain name from a successful and rule-abiding domain investor. Well it worked – for now that is.
And… let’s not forget here…
She is responsible for putting together the new Australian domain name licensing rules…
More to come.