There is a standing invite for any of my readers to submit guest articles on topics relating to domain names. If it is a controversial topic like “Direct Registration” or anything about auDA, I don’t care whether your opinion is “for or against” the topic you choose to right about. As long as it is coherent, and not defamatory (in my sole view), then I will publish it.
Today, I’m happy to publish one of these (with some subtle editing to avoid potential problems!).
“Alex Blake” is a web designer who represents small businesses. He has been against direct registrations since the 2015 Names Panel. It’s good to hear from someone who deals with SME’s on a day to day basis.
Disclaimer: As well as being an auDA Member, I am now an auDA Demand Class Director. The article below is a guest article, and therefore does not necessarily represent my personal opinion. Nor does it purport to be the views of auDA.
Where Has Proper Process Gone? – by Alex Blake
The 2015 Names Panel was effectively influenced by some people representing organisations that stood to make a lot of money. Fundamental balance also went out the window. That’s how it seems to me and many others.
There were three major flaws in my view.
- The panel not having the brief or authority to discuss how to fairly implement direct registrations if they were to make that decision.
Reading the Names Panel report again, it is quite obvious that a number of panelists had misgivings about making a decision based on having faith in a separate future panel. They were forced to make a decision. Congrats to the three lawyers and Ned who had the courage to say “no”.
- The make-up of the panel.
a. Why was there was a senior member of AusRegistry on the panel (a business that stood to earn huge gains if direct registration was brought in)? This person was also an auDA Director at the time. Not only were they on the panel, but their company also made a couple of pro submissions along the way. Is that good governance?
b. Where were the business representatives? Particularly SME’s? Nowhere to be seen. Just like today’s Policy Review Panel.
c. There were a couple of auDA Board Members on the panel. Apparently they were observers. Did they object or have concerns about (a) or (b)? We’ll never know.
- The straw that broke the camel’s back.
The infamous push-polling campaign organised by the panel member representing Melbourne IT and their associated companies. “Vote Yes” was sent to their huge data base without a proper explanation of the potential downsides and costs. Some 4000+ votes were received in the last week. I believe as do many others that this effectively influenced the result.
This same person is now a member of the current Policy Review Panel, and it appears he has not mellowed with age. Read for yourself his comments on Namebid.com.au.
This was my submission to the 2015 Names Panel: https://www.auda.org.au/assets/pdf/blake.txt
Some of the points I made then are as relevant today.
- If this proceeds, and looking at the best case scenario, existing domain owners may
end up with a matching .au domain, and will have to consistently pay two renewal fees.
For those businesses with a few domain names (particularly small businesses), this cost
is exponentially multiplied.
- In the worst case scenario, they stand to lose out on their .au domain name, with the
likelihood of two competing businesses ending up with similar domains. As an example,
which would you trust, carloan.com.au or carloan.au? What if one was owned by the
well-known “Car Sales” and the other by an unknown entity?
- The costs of introducing .au will be enormous, and the public will ultimately have to pay.
- The uncertainty surrounding the process is already hampering business confidence and
- The confusion it will ultimately generate is guaranteed to harm consumer interests.
It is unfathomable to believe that the independent Policy Review Panel under the stewardship of an prominent lawyer like John Swinson does not have a business representative on the panel; and that he allows a panel member to try and influence submissions before the exercise has even been completed. What does the word “Independent” mean? It shouldn’t mean “biased”.
Finally, why hold public forums when there has been no written proposals as to how direct registration would actually work when there are conflicts?
This panel is totally compromised in the opinion of many, and needs to start again when it comes to direct registrations.