The 2017 Policy Review Panel (PRP) was established by the auDA Board to make recommendations on:
- the development of an implementation policy for direct registration; and
- policy reform of existing auDA policies.
The PRP held its first meeting in Melbourne on 27th September, 2017, and in April 2019 they submitted their final report to the auDA Board. They unanimously recommended the auDA Board approve the introduction of direct registration as soon as is practicable, and provided the basis of a recommended implementation model.
They also made a number of recommendations with regards auDA’s existing published policies in terms of overall policy reform and consolidation.
The auDA Board accepted some of the recommendations, and overruled others. Direct registration implementation and changes to licensing rules were set for introduction in October 2019.
Then further recent upheaval happened at auDA with the sudden departure of the Chair followed by the CEO. The Department of Communications and the Arts (DoCA) also stepped in and told the auDA Board that there had not been sufficient consultation on final recommendations. auDA then flip-flopped, and we’re almost back to square one.
Why The Current Process Is Flawed
There are two major reasons in my opinion.
- Firstly, the PRP was underrepresented from the start. There weren’t sufficient people, and business was not represented. The beauty of being a commentator in the .au space for a long time is that I can refer to an “I told you so moment” back in August 2017. Panelists did leave for whatever reason along the way, and new people were brought in (who had to try to be brought up to speed). One of the replacements actually left in dismay, and penned this articulate letter to John Swinson, the Chair of the PRP.
- Secondly, lack of proper consultation with all stakeholders in the .au space; notably all registrants – majority of whom are small and medium business enterprises. This was something I fought for on many occasions at many levels. As you can see from these Minutes of the PRP, the then CEO Cameron Boardman undertook that it would happen. It didn’t – and hasn’t.
“Cameron Boardman noted that work was underway to email all registrants of .au domain names, and stressed the importance to consult with a broad range of stakeholders using a variety of mechanisms.”
Over the many years that auDA has been the custodian of the .au space, the “old auDA” moved slowly and surely (like a tortoise) when it came to changes and reform. They formed panels and advisory groups comprising many stakeholders from “all walks”, and invariably, under good stewardship, they reached consensus decisions after robust debate.
As an analogy, if a City Council is considering making a major change to zoning in a particular area that could affect the amenity of ratepayers and residents, they are obligated to inform every potentially affected party in writing, and invite them to comment.
What auDA is proposing is the biggest change on the .au landscape since its inception, and therefore, every stakeholder / registrant should be informed in writing. An ad or two, poorly attended roadshows, and a temporary website does not “cut the mustard” in the opinion of many.
Ned O’Meara 30 August 2019
I have fought long and hard against direct registration over many years. This includes being a dissenting member of 2015 Names Panel. I was also the initial Demand Class representative of the PRP until I briefly became an auDA Director. But I also believe in proper process, and if this happens (and I’m on the losing side), then I accept that outcome.