Is auDA Abusing Its Power?

Has auDA hijacked Registry.au and WHOIS.au before Direct .AU Registrations even exist?

auDA (.AU Domain Administration) is the governing body of Australian domain names.

They are currently under Government review. The Sydney Morning Herald wrote this headline late last year: auDA is “not fit for purpose, government agency finds“.

auDA created a special committee called the PRP (Policy Review Panel) late last year in an attempt to create Direct .AU Registration implementation rules. This means, they are trying to enable domainname.au to exist, along with the current standard of domainname.com.au(.)

Due to eratic ideas like “a lottery system” and an “April 2016” cut-off-date, as to who would be allowed to own a Direct .AU matching version of their .com.au domain name, the PRP publicly failed:

So much so, that one of the initial PRP Panel Members resigned, stating: “I no longer have confidence that the panel can proceed in a manner that is in the best interests of the Australian internet community” – https://www.theluckycountry.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Resignation-from-the-2017-Policy-Review-Panel.pdf

Now things have gotten worse, if you can believe it.

auDA seem to have hijacked two Direct .AU domain names before they’re available to the general public. Instead of waiting for the “first come, first served,” and “hierarchy of rights” procedure, as per auDA Policy, auDA’s CEO has determined that auDA is entitled to WHOIS.au and REGISTRY.au before Direct .AU Registrations have been approved and implemented, and against their own policies.

auDA were appointed their administrative position by the Department Of Communications in the year 1999 and are governed by their constitution.

In Section 3.1 of auDA’s constitution, it’s notes auDA’s principle purposes are to “be the administrator of … second-level domains”.

Section E of auDA’s Principal Purposes state auDA should: “manage the operation of critical technical functions including:

  • the primary and secondary .au name servers;
  • zone files for second level domains; and
  • a searchable data base containing information on registrations within the .au ccTLD.”

Section 3.2a states:

  • “ensure the continued operational stability of the domain name system in Australia”

I can only assume these are the various sections Cameron Boardman (auDA CEO) will attempt to justify his approval of self-registering and locking out the future use of domain names WHOIS.au and REGISTRY.au for the not-for-profit company?

If this is the case, it’s clear to see he has made yet another bad and ill-informed decision here.

Firstly WHOIS.com.au is owned by a private company. Dreamscape Networks. Which is actually owned by Crazy Domains. They also own the trademark WHOIS PTY LTD. How are they going to feel when they find out auDA have pre-emptively locked them out of ever owning their matching WHOIS.AU domain name?

Registry.com.au is owned by myself, under my Registry Australia Pty Ltd company. How do I feel knowing that after spending ten’s of thousands of dollars in preparation of launching my generic-word Christmas registry, drone registry, gift registry, wedding registry, domain registry and business registry platform, that I now have no chance of owning my exact-match Direct .AU version of my brand?

I’m sure you can imagine.

There are also other current owners of Australian domain names who could be entitled to WHOIS.au and REGISTRY.AU(,) including the current owners of Registry.net.au and WHOIS.net.au and Registry.org.au as a few examples.

It can quite clearly be argued that WHOIS.au and REGISTRY.au do NOT have to be registered to “ensure the continued operational stability of the domain name system in Australia“.

AusRegistry have been contracted for the past 18 years to maintain the single database that stores every Australian domain name, of which there are currently 3.1 million.

At no point in the past 18 years have AusRegistry made an attempt to purchase or obtain Registry.com.au or WHOIS.com.au – because IT HAS NOT BEEN NECESSARY TO ENSURE THE CONTINUED OPERATIONAL STABILITY OF THE DOMAIN NAME SYSTEM IN AUSTRALIA.

The Australian domain name WHOIS service, for the past 18 years has been located at: whois.ausregistry.com.au

You would think, now that Afilias has been handed the contract to take over the administration of the Australian domain name database, their logical choice would be whois.afilias.com.au and whois.afilias.au(.)

There are also no other examples where the term “Registry” is being used as “necessary to ensure operational stability” by any other ccTLD in the world.

  • Registry.com – privately owned
  • Registry.ca – privately owned
  • Registry.nz – privately owned
  • Registry.cn – privately owned
  • Registry.co.uk – privately owned
  • Registry.uk – privately owned

Which brings us to this very important question…

Why has Cameron Boardman, on behalf of auDA, approved the locked-out pre-emptive use of WHOIS.au and REGISTRY.au for Afilias, a multi-million dollar American corporation FOR FREE, without obeying auDA’s constitution, its policies or by running the decision by the auDA board or the PRP (Policy Review Panel)?

As mentioned at the start of this article, auDA is under government review for the first time in its 17 year history.

auDA are currently preparing themselves for a member-requested SGM (special general meeting) to be held on July 27. This is the second SGM requested by members in the past 18 months. An SGM is generally called when members are unhappy with how an organisation is being run. At the last SGM, members were successful in ousting the auDA Chairman. At this coming SGM, members are seeking to oust three auDA board members, including the new Chairman, as well as voting for “no confidence” in Cameron Boardman, auDA’s CEO.

Many members are disgruntled that auDA have been ignoring members and making decisions without any input or transparency to members.

Does this not just look like Cameron Boardman is again doing whatever he feels like without going through the appropriate channels?

You can read all about the previous and historic upcoming SGM by visiting Grumpier.com.au

For now, Cameron Boardman and auDA should be put on notice to reverse the decision to lock-out and pre-register (technically called, hijacking) WHOIS.au and Registry.au(.)

This story is still developing.

Robert Kaay – 29th May 2018


Disclaimer

15 thoughts on “Is auDA Abusing Its Power?

  • Avatar
    May 29, 2018 at 8:27 pm
    Permalink

    You can literally see Registry.au in action BEFORE DIRECT .AU IS EVEN IN EXISTENCE by visiting this link:

    whois.registry.au

    Or if that has been taken down and no longer works, you can view a screenshot of current whois.registry.au – proof the domain name is already in use, at THIS LINK.

     

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  • Avatar
    May 29, 2018 at 9:44 pm
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    Huh?

    whois.au – I just checked and this is already live?!

    How can this be? Which .AU names will they lock-away next?!

    This looks like AUDA already know that direct registrations are definately happening.

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  • Avatar
    May 29, 2018 at 11:00 pm
    Permalink

    Cam’s doing his best to wreck the joint before he leaves.

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  • Avatar
    May 30, 2018 at 1:23 am
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    Grumpier.com.au seems to show 1% of the auDA problems.

    More and more it looks like a very poorly managed organisation.

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  • Avatar
    May 30, 2018 at 12:54 pm
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    UPDATE: Less than 24 hours since this article has gone to air – whois.au has now been turned OFF.

    Who gave the order to turn it off?

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    • Avatar
      May 30, 2018 at 4:42 pm
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      It is not turned off!

      auDA is already preparing to do some PR spin on this.

      http://www.whois.au

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      • Avatar
        May 31, 2018 at 12:29 am
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        You’re right, Debbie.

        whois.au HAS now been turned off…

        but http://www.whois.au is STILL LIVE and points to AusRegistry’s “portal home”.

        George has exclaimed below, AusRegistry did not want or request this! So why has auDA pre-emptively hijacked this “future” domain (that isn’t supposed to even exist yet at the Direct .AU level?!) and pointed it there?

        If the link has been turned off by the time you try this, the screenshot is here.

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  • George Pongas
    May 30, 2018 at 4:39 pm
    Permalink

    Hello Robert,

    Congratulations on your new publishing endeavour. Good luck!

    If I may I would like to make 3 statements, but forgive me in advance if I don’t field any follow-up questions. I’ll reserve that right until perhaps after 30 June, 2018.

    1) You are correct, during my tenure working at the incumbent Registry Operator the position held was that there was no technical merit to support reserving the labels ‘registry’ and ‘whois’ to ensure the continued operational stability of the .au domain name system in Australia.

    2) I had no prior knowledge that the labels ‘registry’ and ‘whois’ were going to be added as second level registrations by auDA. i.e. these domains exist outside of the incumbent Registry Operator database.

    3) I was not aware, nor did I request, http://www.whois.au to be forwarded to https://whois.ausregistry.com.au

    Thanks!

    George

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    • Scott.L
      May 30, 2018 at 8:27 pm
      Permalink

      3) I was not aware, nor did I request, http://www.whois.au to be forwarded to https://whois.ausregistry.com.au

      Bloody Hell. Not only is the extension [whois.au] not awarded to you [as the entity], but its redirected to you without you even knowing about it.

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    • Avatar
      May 31, 2018 at 12:38 am
      Permalink

      Much respect for speaking up George.

      THIS…

      “during my tenure working at the incumbent Registry Operator the position held was that there was no technical merit to support reserving the labels ‘registry’ and ‘whois’ to ensure the continued operational stability of the .au domain name system in Australia.”

      This is crystal clear proof that AusRegistry, who ran and operated the domain name registry in Australia for 18 years, did not need these “generic” domain names to run it. Nor has any other ccTLD Domain Name Registry Operator in the entire world.

      How many days is it going to take for auDA to reverse this gigantic mistake?

      Are auDA going to publicly and transparently admit how this happened in the first place, and that it was wrong?

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  • Avatar
    May 30, 2018 at 6:09 pm
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    Wow this is a crazy act by auda, as a member I am not happy with their behavour in allowing those domains to be activated when au was put on hold until late 2019 and more consultation was sort.

    Its a slap in the face of proper proceedure and arrogant to say the least.

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  • Scott.L
    May 31, 2018 at 11:57 am
    Permalink

    Interesting to see the previous owner of registry.com.au is a serving auDA Director. Hmmmmmmm…

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    • Avatar
      May 31, 2018 at 12:24 pm
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      Hi Scott. Well spotted. I approached and purchased the domain name off the previous owners a couple of years ago. I’m glad I did, but I didn’t expect auDA to lock-out the Direct .AU a few years down the track. There’s no way the previous owners could have known that would happen and I don’t blame them at all.

      From where I currently sit, it appears the recent WHOIS.au and Registry.au pre-emptive lockouts have been approved by Cameron Boardman, himself, as CEO. I believe he should personally be reversing this decision and publicly explaining how and why he chose to do this.

      Everyone makes mistakes. If he acts quickly, and publicly reverses this decision, I’m sure this will all end swiftly.

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  • Scott.L
    May 31, 2018 at 12:37 pm
    Permalink

    Perhaps it’s the cynic in me that can’t accept it as a mistake. A position like that (director) is knowing that this will lead to a problem and says nothing?

    I applaud your faith, and I hope it’s resolved with some common sense.

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  • Avatar
    May 31, 2018 at 5:02 pm
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    ITWIRE.com just posted an article about this topic here: https://www.itwire.com/strategy/83028-auda-registers-au-domains,-claims-it-is-allowed-to-do-so.html

    My response in the comments section over there goes as follows:

    Hi Sam. Well-written article.

    My article yesterday is the original article that exposed all that’s going on (article at Domainer.com.au) with these pre-emptive Direct .AU domain name lockouts.

    The “auDA spokesperson” can attempt to defend what auDA has done all they want, but when their entire defence is this…

    “auDA is permitted under its policies to use reserved (and use) any names essential to the operations and utility of the .au namespace.”

    …note they said the words “permitted” if it’s “essential to the operations”.

    As I clearly pointed out in my initial article on Domainer, it is NOT essential.

    In fact, George Pongas is currently Director of Product Management at AusRegistry, the currently appointed .AU 2LD Registry Operator. Last night he commented on my article stating:

    “during my tenure working at the incumbent Registry Operator the position held was that there was no technical merit to support reserving the labels ‘registry’ and ‘whois’ to ensure the continued operational stability of the .au domain name system in Australia.”

    It couldn’t be clearer than this. auDA has wrongfully registered these generic domain names (some would call this hijacking!) for themselves, and have, in effect, given Afilias, the multi-million American company (who is about to take over the .AU Registry Operation) these valuable Australian premium domain names FOR FREE, without consulting policy (which doesn’t exist for this format yet!), the board or members.

    AusRegistry was the Registry Operator for 18 years. Last night they publicly claimed Registry.au and WhoIs.au are NOT NECESSARY or ESSENTIAL to the operation of the .AU namespace.

    So, auDA have no argument here.

    They need to revoke this decision immediately and delete the names from existence.

    Because it is crystal clear they do not “essentially” need these two domain names, Cameron Boardman, the CEO, now needs to publicly explain the real reason he gave the authority to register them.

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