auDA Manager breaches code of conduct.

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”.

Huh?!

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.

13 thoughts on “auDA Manager breaches code of conduct.

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2020 at 7:11 am
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    This is a new low for auDA. Heads should roll.

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    • Avatar
      October 30, 2020 at 6:43 pm
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      How does this type of conduct inspire any confidence in the .au market place? I thought a new broom was supposed to sweep clean, but it seems as if nothing has changed other than the marionettes. New cast,; same play. So disappointing. Our cyber assets are at the mercy of unnamed bureaucrats who wield enormous and anonymous power.

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  • Ed Keay-Smith
    October 30, 2020 at 8:53 am
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    This is reprehensible behaviour from auDA and its staff.

    auDA is supposed to be transparent and accountable, none of which seem to be happening here.

    These breaches of the code of conduct need to end NOW!

    The rules apply to EVERYONE including and especially auDA.

    Get your house in order auDA.

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    • Avatar
      October 30, 2020 at 9:32 am
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      Good points, Ed. But I think it may be too late to get their house in order. This has been going on FOR YEARS. Looks like it may be time for the Department of Communications to drain the swamp.

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      • Ed
        October 30, 2020 at 9:36 am
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        Totally agree Rob.

        and what a deep, murky swamp it is!!

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      • Avatar
        November 2, 2020 at 11:02 am
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        The problem is that the Swamp is the Department of Communications. Domain name policy is run by the sister hood, 2 women who think going to an ICANN conference means they know something about domain names. The sisterhood is very close to the auDA employee you speak of who was formerly a Government lawyer. These are the same people that opposed (and killed) the proposed rules that eliminated the requirement to have eligibility of for Australian domain names other than an Australian connection. The sooner the Minister cleans the Department out the better.

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  • Scott.L
    October 30, 2020 at 9:25 am
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    Why did auDA CEO Rosemary Sinclair turn a blind eye?

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  • Avatar
    October 30, 2020 at 10:07 am
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    Its time for you to resign before you get auDA sued and they lose. This has gone on for too long.

    “”are auDA staff trying toi nfluence the auda prp with crazy ideas”
    https://www.dntrade.com.au/threads/are-auda-staff-trying-to-influence-the-auda-prp-with-crazy-ideas.11856/

    “Rumours are someone at auDA is directly trying to influence the auDA Policy Review Panel with crazy submissions and campaigning on the now globally recognised industry standard of monetisation.This person seems to want to ban it in Australia. .. that seems to be going backwards and also open the chance of massive litigation against auDA ( and Directors personally?) and more self inflicted wounds and nails in the auDA coffin.”

    Internet Commerce Association:

    https://www.internetcommerce.org/auda-management-rejects-wrongful-attempts-to-prohibit-domain-name-investment-in-australia/

    “The Internet Commerce Association (the “ICA”) Congratulates Australian Domain Investors on the rejection of certain Proposed Policy Changes in the Australian namespace which would have had a detrimental effect on domain name investors and on the Australian namespace.

    On April 15, 2018, auDA management responded to the Policy Review Panel’s Final Report and Recommendations (the “PRP”). The ICA had submitted a detailed response to the Final Report (“the ICA Comment”) and auDA Management has clearly taken it to heart.

    As pointed out in the ICA Comment, and as concluded by auDA Management, “there is no evidence that domain name flipping as an investment strategy is having a negative impact on the utility of the .au domain nor resulting in a scarcity of domain names” and that “the PRP has not provided any evidentiary material on which to assess the nature of the warehousing problem and what, if any, action is required”.

    Moreover, auDA Management rightly concluded that, “the warehousing prohibition appears to disproportionately target domain investors as the licence portfolios or holdings of trademark and brand owners will be excluded under the PRP proposal. This proposal elevates the rights of trademark and other intellectual property owners over other licence holders in the .au domain, which may give rise to issues of market power and anti-competitive practices.”

    auDA management accordingly, “DOES NOT SUPPORT THE PRP RECOMMENDATION FOR A RESALE AND WAREHOUSING PROHIBITION”.

    Moreover, auDA Management has “abolished” the domain monetisation rule for the com.au and net.au namespaces: “A Person….will be able to use [their domain name] for any legitimate purpose, including domain name monetisation or domain name investment. This is consistent with the approach in other ccTLDs, including .ca, .nz, .fr, .uk and .de domains.”

    The ICA is very pleased that auDA Management has gotten these crucial issues right and that it has resisted unsubstantiated and ill-conceived attempts to prohibit domain name investing and monetisation in the .au namespace. The ICA believes that the rejection of these proposed policies will ensure the continued viability and success of the .au namespace and expresses its appreciation for auDA management’s clear rejection of these wrongheaded policy proposals which would have dramatically affected domain name investment in Australia.”

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  • Avatar
    October 30, 2020 at 12:26 pm
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    What an example of prejudice from the secret society that is auDA.

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  • Avatar
    October 31, 2020 at 9:02 am
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    These stories make me very concerned for the long term viability of investing in .au domain names.

    One can only hope those at auDA who appear to answer to no one but themselves, move on and people with higher moral and ethical standards take their place.

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  • Neddy
    November 2, 2020 at 8:50 am
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    Whilst out for my morning walk, I saw a great t-shirt. It reminded me of the symbiotic relationship that now seems to exist between auDA and domain investors.

    “The beatings will continue until morale improves”.

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  • Avatar
    November 2, 2020 at 10:52 am
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    auDA has been out of control for years, a law unto themselves, they have always changed interpretations and the rules to suit themselves

    The new broom was supposed to clear crap out. Four handles, five heads, looks like we still have the same broom. They were supposed to be more open and transparent, there is just more incompetence and cover ups, not following their own directions.

    auDa is from Melbourne it looks like they are following Dan Andrews style of having their own investigations and enquires aiming towards their required outcome.

    Time for another complete change of Generals there.

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  • Avatar
    November 2, 2020 at 5:41 pm
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    A culture of unconscious bias appears to be nurtured.

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