auDA’s PRP Fatally Flawed?

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.

Conclusion

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

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Disclaimer

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.

16 thoughts on “auDA’s PRP Fatally Flawed?

  • Avatar
    August 30, 2019 at 8:26 am
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    The main problem was some of the members were people with gripes, strange decisions were made that went against public consensus, submissions were mostly ignored as they “found their own way”. Even the board rejected most of it.

    Time to start from square one and forget that panel ever existed.

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  • Avatar
    August 30, 2019 at 10:18 am
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    What troubles me about direct registration is that there is no economic case to support it. In March 2019, the PRP released a hastily prepared cost-benefit analysis from ACIL-Allen Consulting. It’s not clear why this couldn’t have been released a year earlier. This report had some bewildering missteps of logic and was clearly prepared as a self-serving justification of the case for direct registration. Case in point: “one of the key benefits of direct registration is its potential ability to enhance growth in the value of internet shopping (B2C e‐commerce) in Australia, by encouraging Australians to spend more on Australian shopping websites (which affords them protection via Australia’s privacy and consumer protection laws) and relatively less on overseas shopping websites.”
    Why would consumers spend more on a website because it is a .au rather than a .com? How is the domain name at all relevant to whether a consumer has protection under privacy and consumer protection laws?

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    • Neddy
      August 30, 2019 at 12:19 pm
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      Thanks for your sensible comments Tim. And I hope you are well.

      Just for clarification, this “Tim” is not ex-auDA Director “Tim”.

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  • Avatar
    August 30, 2019 at 11:02 am
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    If small business did not have a seat at the table from the start, then that is shameful.

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    • Scott.L
      August 30, 2019 at 12:25 pm
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      I recall the ACCC also jumped ship.

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  • Avatar
    August 30, 2019 at 11:13 am
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    Admin Note: Apologies everyone for such a long post with 6 squillion links. But I don’t think anyone is ever going to be able to convince Sean that succinct is better! That said, he does occasionally find some nuggets!

    ——————————————————————————-

    This shows just some of the major problems created by the auDA PRP, auDA Board, auDA mismanagement, some supply parties and some of the auDA paid media trolls / PR Spin Doctors.

    ICA Recommendations to the auDA Board: Reform of Existing Policies & Implementation of Direct Registration
    https://www.internetcommerce.org/ica-recommendations-to-the-auda-board-reform-of-existing-policies-implementation-of-direct-registration/

    auDA Management Rejects Wrongful Attempts to Prohibit Domain Name Investment in Australia
    https://www.internetcommerce.org/auda-management-rejects-wrongful-attempts-to-prohibit-domain-name-investment-in-australia/

    Even some Registrars have had to sue auDA!
    Registrar sues auDA for deleting domain name
    https://www.internetcommerce.org/registrar_sues_auda_for_deleting_domain_name/
    Mr Justice Chesterman asked the parties, “where does auDA’s power to cancel domain names come from?” He decided that the issues raised in Domain Director’s lawsuit were important commercial issues that required speedy resolution.

    Tony Lentino, the CEO of Domain Directors, was pleased with the court’s actions.

    “I look forward to my day in court. auDA is not above the law and must behave properly. Chris Disspain cannot just decide to delete someone’s domain name without good reason.”

    Mr Lentino said that Domain Directors is preparing for trial. “auDA’s actions in deleting one of our long standing domain names was the final straw. We had no choice but to stand up to them. auDA should be subject to more external scrutiny. They are supposed to be a custodian of the Internet in Australia.”

    John Swinson, partner of Mallesons Stephen Jaques, representing Domain Directors said: “This case will set important precedent in Australia and clarify auDA’s roles and powers.”
    https://www.internetcommerce.org/registrar_sues_auda_for_deleting_domain_name/

    “auDA PRP’s Misleading final paper exposes “rigging” of Consultation process & Misquoting facts”
    https://www.dntrade.com.au/threads/auda-prps-misleading-final-paper-exposes-rigging-of-consultation-process-misquoting-facts.12246/#post-96309

    “auDA panel moves to delete record of past meetings”
    https://www.itwire.com/strategy/83762-auda-panel-moves-to-delete-record-of-past-meetings.html

    “auDA’s own “spin-doctor” can’t wait for tens of thousands of Australian domain names to be confiscated.”
    https://domainer.com.au/ian-hanke-pr-auda-spin-doctor/
    “Has auDA hired Liberal Party spin doctor Ian Hanke, Why for how much $$?”
    https://www.dntrade.com.au/threads/has-auda-hired-liberal-party-spin-doctor-ian-hanke-why-for-how-much.11925/

    “Websites confiscated: Businesses ‘losing everything’ ”
    https://www.smartcompany.com.au/technology/websites-confiscated-auda-prohibited-domains/

    “The end of auDA”
    https://namebid.com.au/articles/22/the-end-of-auda/

    “First Look at PRP Recommendations”
    https://namebid.com.au/articles/15/auda_prp_direct_au_registration/

    “auDA’s Policy Review Panel was always doomed”
    https://namebid.com.au/articles/19/auda-policy-review-panel-2018-doomed/

    “Does auDA publicly contradict the purpose of PRP?”
    https://namebid.com.au/articles/18/auda-existing-registrants-priority/

    “auDA and PRP plans could affect 90,000 + existing .au registrants rights and investments”
    https://www.dntrade.com.au/threads/auda-and-prp-plans-could-affect-90-000-existing-au-registrants-rights-and-investments.11955/

    auDA Director and lawyer Erhan Karabardak explains .au domain name Monetisation
    https://www.coopermills.com.au/domain-monetisation-in-the-au-space-part-1/
    “Our position on many of auDA’s policies is well known within the industry – they are in many cases unreasonable, do not reflect the practical realities, and do not reflect developments in the .au domain space.”

    “auDA moves to abolish resale restrictions” auDA Director and Lawyer Erhan Karabardak
    https://www.coopermills.com.au/auda-moves-to-abolish-resale-restrictions/

    “Can foreigners register .au domain names ?” auDA Director and Lawyer Erhan Karabardak
    https://www.coopermills.com.au/can-foreigners-register-au-domain-names/

    auDA Accredited Registrar Enetica .au domain name Monetisation program
    http://www.enetica.com.au/default.cgi?action=monetisation

    auDA Accredited Registrar GoDaddy .au domain name Monetisation Cash Parking program
    https://au.godaddy.com/domains/cashparking

    auDA CTO Bruce Tonkin says selling .au is allowed under auDA policy
    Bruce – selling .au names: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=49&v=Dy_885Ssqcc
    https://www.youtube.com/user/melbourneit

    Bruce Tonkin and AUDA says “THE STRUCTURE AVOIDS CONFUSION” .
    Why Government uses .gov.au
    Why Education uses .edu.au
    Why Organisations use .org.au
    Why Associations use .asn.au

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7w9ZFpifzho

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  • Scott.L
    August 30, 2019 at 1:17 pm
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    In my opinion, the PRP was just a social experiment to promote anti-domainer propaganda and malicious attitudes against those holding valuable domains and portfolios. In doing so, it gave those at auDA a means to redistribute millions of dollars of favours down to the last dollar, even down to auDA’s first annually reported loss. Personally, I doubt it was ever really about reforms.

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  • Neddy
    August 30, 2019 at 1:58 pm
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    I posted this article on LinkedIn this morning, and have had hundreds of eyeballs on it. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/activity-6573008543186857984-VFvV

    I appreciated getting an interesting comment from Luke Richards (former MelbourneIT and NetNames). Some may not follow me on LinkedIn, so I’ll post it here:

    “I’ve been on this merry go round for 20 years and have disagreed with much of what auDA has done in the past. There was a public consultation period for dotAU and the involvement was as always average. I actually feel that the process up to date has been much better run than most of the others. The reality of this is that most registrants do not give two hoots about this. The most vocal opposition to this program has always come from the investor market who let’s face it have the most to lose. Should they have messaged every registrant, possibly, would it change the much? I honestly don’t believe so. PS I am against the implementation of AU”

    My response was as follows:

    “Luke, I appreciate your comments. Thanks. My main points are that:

    1. SME’s / Business were supposed to be represented from the get-go, and they weren’t. Who knows what direction the PRP would have taken had small business been represented from the start?

    2. The Panel was also very small by normal auDA standards – 6 + Chair ended up being 5 + Chair, and of those original 5, ultimately 3 left and had to be replaced (some twice). As our mutual mate Dave T from NetNames in the UK told me, Nominet had to go back to the well 3 times before they “succeeded” in getting direct reg through in the UK – once SME’s found out what was going on (via activism), they were incensed by original proposals, and Nominet had to alter course.

    3. Finally, regardless of whether they gave a hoot or not, every Aussie registrant was supposed to be notified and asked for input (CEO commitment), and they weren’t.”

    Luke responded positively with this:

    “ALL good Mate its all about having a discussions!”

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  • Avatar
    August 31, 2019 at 8:04 am
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    Ned, you raise an important consideration that I hadn’t really thought about before. That if small business were represented from the start on the PRP perhaps all would be different today. I don’t know the stats, but they must represent a shit load of registrants?

    Jeff

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  • Avatar
    August 31, 2019 at 10:39 am
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    Why has this site ” gone back down this path” ? We have seen all the blogs and posts about this subject.

    Sorry Ned – Can we move forward at all?

    • Neddy
      August 31, 2019 at 11:29 am
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      Chris, I just read your previous posts on this site, and understand (and respect) your attitude towards wanting direct registrations (.au).

      Personally, I don’t give a toss about direct registration. I had reconciled to it. In my opinion, it will flop just like UK and NZ did, but it will give registrars in the .au eco system some much needed temporary impetus. com.au will always be king in Australia, and many domain investors will make money from its introduction.

      The reason I and many others have got fired up again is based on the recent flip-flop by auDA. Did you read https://domainer.com.au/auda-announces-delay/ and https://domainer.com.au/opportunity-red-tape/

      Not only is direct registration now on hold, but the sensible changes to the licensing rules recently made by auDA (in opposition to the PRP) have also been repealed. The latter is what I care about. Quid pro quo – direct registration on one hand; but better, fairer and more relaxed rules for com.au and net.au on the other.

      But instead of following through, auDA is about to consult “widely” again. So if they are going to consult again, all I’m suggesting is to do it properly and make sure they contact every single registrant of a domain name, and give them a chance to comment. This was promised by the ex-CEO (yet another broken promise).

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    • Avatar
      September 2, 2019 at 11:40 am
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      I agree with Ned on this, we’re having to go back “down this path” because many of us spent time and money over the past few years helping to “modernise” and shape the future policies and Direct Registration, only to now be told everything is “on hold”.

      Painful.

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      • Avatar
        September 2, 2019 at 12:02 pm
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        Direct registration was doomed form the start. I doubt it will ever come in.

        Take a look around, the place is under government review, the CEO is rumoured to have been booted, the Chair has walked out the door. Who are you hoping is going to bring in direct registration Robert? It is echos at 1 Collins St right now. Watch as they keep delaying this a few more years, they’ve got no ability to bring it in anyway.

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      • Scott.L
        September 2, 2019 at 12:05 pm
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        ASX corporate governance principles were finalised 2019.

        Interesting to note: recommendation 3.1 reads:

        ‘In formulating its values, a listed entity should consider what behaviours are needed from its officers and employees to build long term sustainable value for its security holders. This includes the need for the entity to preserve and protect its reputation and standing in the community and with key stakeholders, such as customers, employees, suppliers, creditors, law makers and regulators.’

        RE: CRC (Values come first)

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        • Scott.L
          September 2, 2019 at 12:18 pm
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          Recommendation 1.1 has been amended to make it clear that the ‘senior executive team is responsible for providing the board with accurate, timely and clear information on the entity’s operations to enable the board to perform its responsibilities and that this is not just limited to information about the financial performance of the entity, but also its compliance with material legal and regulatory requirements and any conduct that is materially inconsistent with the values or code of conduct of the entity’

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  • Avatar
    August 31, 2019 at 12:50 pm
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    Your namespace is over governed.

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