One of the whole premises behind introducing direct registration of domain names in Australia was that it also had to be fair on all existing registrants.

I don’t believe the currently proposed model is fair on small business registrants – and I’m going to show you why with two simple examples (see further below).

Trust Us – We Are The Regulator!

Both auDA and their Policy Review Panel (PRP) have told those who care to read or hear their pronouncements that there will be less than 60,000 registrants out of around 3.2 million that will actually be affected by any form of conflict i.e. someone or somebody else having the same domain name but with different extensions e.g. yourname.com.au and yourname.net.au. That’s less than 2%.

Here’s their quote:

Evidence suggests that there will be fewer than 60,000 possible conflicts, out of over 3 million domain names registered.

But That’s Bulldust!

What about the “unseen” conflicts or other ramifications that could affect the small guys?

If there are only around 60,000 domain names currently conflicted, that means there are potentially over 3 million other domain names that could be conflicted or affected.

Conflicted or affected how I hear you say?

Let me give you two real life random examples (I always like to use “window cleaners”!)

Cam’s Window Cleaning / Joe’s Window Cleaning

I don’t know Cam or Joe from a bar of soap. But they are registrant’s of camswindowcleaning.com.au and joeswindowcleaning.com.au. Nice small business websites.

Nobody else has these domain names registered in any other extension, so yippee, they can register camswindowcleaning.au and joeswindowcleaning.au if and when direct registration gets introduced (they have 6 months to do it from launch date).

Yes, they do have to pay for the privilege. Groan …

But what if they don’t want to pay or register the .au within 6 months? (Or worse still, they never knew it was happening)! You guessed it. A competitor or anybody could potentially register the domain. And no small business in their right mind would want that would they?

So in effect, they are being held to ransom. And by paying the ransom, they have effectively been double taxed by the regulator. The ATO must be so envious.

Let’s Call a Spade a Spade

In my opinion, this direct registration implementation model has been designed to print money for the supply side i.e. auDA (the regulator), Afilias (the registry operator), and then all the registrars and resellers.

If it wasn’t about the money, they’d be giving Cam and Joe (and millions like them) their .au domain name for free (at least for a minimum period). Or they wouldn’t be introducing it at all.

Those most affected are going to be hardworking small businesses that probably wouldn’t even have a clue that this is happening – and what the ramifications are going to be. Yep, despite promising to do so, the regulator (auDA) has still not individually advised each registrant of the proposed changes.

Shame on you auDA.


Ned O’Meara – 17th September 2019

14 thoughts on “auDA’s Licence To Print Money

  • Avatar
    September 17, 2019 at 3:07 pm
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    Another fine mess created by Boardman’s megalomania, and sadly endorsed by current directors.

  • Avatar
    September 17, 2019 at 5:04 pm
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    The PRP made recommendations to the auDA board and they included the following recommendations.

    Fees and Costs:
    The Panel has no jurisdiction to set or determine fees or costs. However, the Panel’s view is that any fees charged in relation to the implementation of direct registration (for example, to acquire a token) should be on a cost recovery basis only. Consideration should be given to capping the cost of tokens for registrants who own a significant number of domain names.

    Awareness:
    Similar to the recommendation of the Names Policy Panel, this Panel strongly recommends that there must be a widespread education and awareness campaign leading up to the release of direct registrations. Such a campaign should also publicise the details of the priority registration and conflicting names process.

    The Panel considers that it would be appropriate to have one review period that takes place approximately two years after the lock-down period commences. During the review period, each token holder must confirm that they wish to continue to hold the token. If confirmation is not received during the review period, then that token expires. This review period does not take away from or conflict with the recommendation that the lock-down period be indefinite. It merely requires confirmation from token holders that they still require the lock to remain in place. If such confirmation is received, the token remains valid, and if there is more than one token, the lock will continue indefinitely.

    auDA decided not to listen to the recommendations and imposed additional costs on registrants. As to an awareness campaign, it seems they have spent their budget on the Nominations Committee.

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    • Neddy
      September 17, 2019 at 6:52 pm
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      Thanks Nobbie. Your last paragraph is certainly illuminating.

  • Tim
    September 17, 2019 at 5:54 pm
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    Cam registers joes .au
    Shows up for a job booked online….. r u joe?
    Joe couldnt make it so he sent me.
    Ohhh ok i just want the windows cleaned before the shop opens.
    No problems.
    Another stolen customer
    In the real world its called ‘passing off’

    I dont think the prp had grip on real world realities
    Tim

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  • Avatar
    September 17, 2019 at 11:19 pm
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    Hi, I really thought .au was a good idea but I see I’m going to be part of that conflicted name stuff which is so confusing and I don’t want to negotiate with my competitors or pay more fees for another domain name. My husband and I worked hard to afford the best name for our business and we built our local brand around it. I don’t want to be forced into paying fees to protect my domain as well as paying my renewal fee. I hope something can be done about it.

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  • Avatar
    September 18, 2019 at 7:34 am
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    I must say it astounds me how auDA is even capable of being a industry regulator when they are not even capable of creating a post on linkedin without getting it wrong.

    http://www.joinauda.org.au/memberbenefits

    It seems that member benefits “can’t be found”. Is that an ironic indicator of what’s to come?

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    • Neddy
      September 18, 2019 at 7:57 am
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      It reminds me of the “soup nazi” episode on Seinfeld.

      “No benefits for you today!”

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      • Avatar
        September 18, 2019 at 8:09 am
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        auDA is a big fan of Domainer. It only took them 15 minutes to fix the linkedin post.

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    • Scott.L
      September 18, 2019 at 9:41 am
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      You can’t even find the nomination committee under ‘about us’ on auDA’s website, can’t see agenda or minutes, they don’t even have a spiel about what they do, and yet, auDA is looking for a new CEO, Chair, and 12 new directors.

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  • Avatar
    September 18, 2019 at 7:45 pm
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    Over the years, auDA had to wrangle with many tricky policy deliberations. We didn’t get all of them right, but there was always an underlying intent to improve .au, and not to make money.

    We can argue over that last point and some will always moan that “Disspain was just lining his pockets” but until the Victorian Police find that to be the case (yeah, right), I don’t want to hear that distracting and ill-informed whingeing.

    In retrospect, we were very fortunate to inherit a restrictive regime from Robert Elz. It was far easier to liberalise policies slowly (and too slowly for many) than to try and stuff a genie back in a bottle.

    Names structures, eligibility rules, allocation mechanisms and registration limitations were managed and amended cautiously but we finally got from direct company eligibility only to a secondary market, broader eligibility rules and name speculation and investment. All while still retaining .au’s policy roots. All while growing from 280,000 to 3.1mil names. All while staying in the global Top 10 against other countries with no policy and much larger populations.

    As you all know, direct registration was considered a number of times.
    I was always wary of the policy ramifications and implementation difficulties.
    It would be a hard thing to do.
    So we sat back and watched others.
    Others that, even with their vast ccTLD management experience, failed either gradually or spectacularly. Our collective fears and misgivings were validated.

    And yet, the process churned on.
    Heck, every regulated industry struggles under the weight of commercial pressures, but often these align with other factors such as consumer demand or the exhaustion of an existing resource that causes unsustainable cost increases.
    There are no such “other” factors when it comes to .au.
    Direct registration will allow a small number of informed and engaged people to make a decent dollar.
    But there is NO other tangible benefit.

    There will be huge potential for customer confusion. Do not underestimate how much the unwashed masses are used to, and reliant upon, our long-standing 2LD structure.
    There will be conflicts. Those that can be foreseen now and those that will only arise over time.
    There will be (further) reputational damage to .au
    There will be no obvious increase in competition, choice and no market growth stimulus (the last of which is not auDA’s job anyway).
    The impending exhaustion of a finite resource will not be avoided. (unlike IPv4 to v6)
    There will be no new and improved regulatory framework upon which Australian companies can innovate, expand and gain a competitive advantage internationally.

    Further, the old trope of “well, the Panel recommended it, so auDA has to do it” is hogwash.
    AuDA has adhered to Panel advice (or not) to differing degrees in the past and it is appropriate for a governing Board to take a final decision that seriously considers expert input, but is not bound to it.
    Also, so much time has passed that it would be appropriate to revisit the Panel’s recommendations anyway, knowing what we do now about the complexity of implementation.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am all for change, growth, competition and consumer choice.
    But you can use those arguments to justify just about any half-baked idea. This includes new gTLDs or using randomly-selected character sets as IDNs in a country that does not otherwise use them as an official language.

    I agree whole-heartedly that this is a cash-cow for a select few, including a regulator that had previously recognised its obligation to work on a not-for-profit basis.

    If anyone has a cogent and coherent argument that could convince me that there is ONE, single other benefit to opening up .au, I ask you to share it with me and the community. I will confess my ignorance and moderate my position. But I’ve been pleading since 2012 and haven’t heard one yet, so I wont get my hopes up.

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    • Neddy
      September 18, 2019 at 8:02 pm
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      The ever articulate and knowledgeable Mr Szyndler. Thank you for taking the time to give us the benefit of your many years of experience.

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  • Avatar
    September 19, 2019 at 8:46 am
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    As I, and a lot of people have been saying for years, in regards to your sentence above Ned…

    “the regulator (auDA) has still not individually advised each registrant of the proposed changes”.

    All it would take for auDA to inform everyone in Australia who owns a domain name about Direct .AU Registration would be to SEND THEM AN EMAIL.

    I’ve heard that auDA believe this will be perceived as “spam”, but I don’t think there’s any chance of that. This is simply informing the public about an “important change of circumstance” to their EXISTING domain registration with auDA.

    Why don’t auDA want to inform everyone they can about Direct .AU Registration?

    • Neddy
      September 19, 2019 at 9:39 am
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      I’ve heard that auDA believe this will be perceived as “spam”, but I don’t think there’s any chance of that.

      That was their (particularly Boardman’s) initial spin, but they got ridiculed for that. Even the initial ACCC rep on the PRP said it was ok. Boardman then committed to it in writing for all to see.

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