Last Friday, I saw a post from Afilias (on LinkedIn) which motivated me to write this article.

The topic was a short interview with Steph Viljoen from auDA. Her position is “Compliance and Analytics Manager”.

On the positive side, there was some very sensible advice for registrants.

On the “splutter side” (I was drinking coffee at the time), this quote left me wondering if auDA operates in a different universe to domain registrants? In particular, to domain investors.

We are here to help with all of your .au domain name queries because, through increased engagement with the general Australian public, we are able to understand the real issues at hand and can continue to be transparent and empathetic in our communication.

  • “Understand the real issues”. Really?
  • “Transparent”. By whose definition?
  • “Empathetic in our communication”. There are many who would disagree. We can’t even phone and speak to someone like we used to.

Last year, the then auDA Board and CEO finally acknowledged that domain investment was an acceptable and important part of the .au ecosystem.

However, I am aware of a number of domain investors (including myself) who have come under attack in recent times, and the response from auDA has seemed to be anything but empathetic. e.g. check out this recent story on Domainer about the domain investor who was effectively stripped of hundreds of domains.

It all starts with an “anonymous complaint”

These can be lodged online by anyone for free. Generally this is done by someone who doesn’t want to acquire a domain through the aftermarket. They don’t have to give their real name – and they can quickly create a temporary email address.

I may be wrong, but It seems to me that when the auDA Compliance team gets one of these complaints against a domain investor, there is an “agenda” to proactively look for potential transgressions of policy or guidelines. That’s right – there are “guidelines” to try and interpret what auDA really means in their policies. And in recent times, decisions that were made in the past (precedents) are seemingly worthless.

I have been dealing with auDA for over 15 years (and never lost a domain because I follow the rules), but have never felt as vulnerable as I do now. The goalposts seem to be constantly shifting. And judging by the number of concerned calls and emails I have received recently, I’m certainly not “Robinson Crusoe” either.

So much for the “new auDA” we were all looking forward to!

Some real understanding, transparency and empathy would be wonderful. As would consistency.

3 thoughts on “auDA Talks A Good Game

  • Avatar
    July 6, 2020 at 5:16 pm
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    Well said, Ned and thanks for writing this. Every month this year, I am hearing many .au domain name holders have had enough.

    As you can always see on Domainer (the list is building – https://domainer.com.au/category/auda-wrong-decision/ … and building…), auDA are anything but empathetic and transparent.

    I can agree that I personally have received an unprecedented amount of “anonymous” complaints this year. More than any other year so far. auDA continue to wrongfully allow vexatious anonymous complaints against legitimate generic domain name holders.

    The cycle is this…

    auDA allow people to spend thousands of dollars on licensing legitimate generic domain names according to policy, then auDA confiscate the domain name (sometimes whole portfolios), then the domain name is resold… and auDA staff keep getting their pay checks.

    NOWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD can people make anonymous free complaints against domain names and have one or two people (at a non-profit company like auDA) choose to delete them due to their own personal interpretation of outdated policy.

    auDA policy and complaints staff are still abiding by rules and opinions dating back to the ancient-tech years of 2002-2004.

    Just look at what happened to Mr Modesto last week.

    Wake up.

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  • Avatar
    July 7, 2020 at 7:13 am
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    In NZ, the Domain Name Commission works well. They respond quickly.

    https://www.dnc.org.nz/the-commission/contact

    Re complaints, they encourage parties to talk to each other first before lodging a complaint.

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    • Avatar
      July 7, 2020 at 9:36 am
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      See, now that’s a good idea.

      auDA should have implemented something like this years ago.

      Step 1; auDA ask, “Have you talked to the current domain name owner?”

      Step 2; if Complainant says Yes, then auDA say “Okay, if you still wish to move forward with your complaint your name will become public in this regard as complaints are no longer ANONYMOUS. Please fill out our form stating why you think you have a right to the domain name over the current owner and include your ABN”.

      Problem solved.

      All the auDA board has to do now is bring this motion up at the next meeting and APPROVE this change and implement it within 7 days.

      Technology moves fast.

      Simples.

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