Let me preface this article by stating that the integrity of the .au domain space is paramount to me. Just as it is to many other people and organisations.
However, in my opinion, auDA is over-regulated in several areas. Have a look at the total list of policies in existence! Whilst it’s important to have “rules” and “policies”, there has surely got to be some common-sense employed to help us move with the times.
When I try and explain the intricacies of auDA Policy to prospective domain investors, I can almost feel their eyes glazing over – or hear their incredulity at the amount of “red tape” that exists.
I tell them that we’ve come a long way in the last 10 years. Once upon a time you couldn’t even sell a domain name unless it was part of a business sale! It’s thanks to a lot of people (including current Board Directors) that we have evolved since those “dark ages”.
But it’s now time to have some more change. And I think with a new progressive Chairman, CEO and Board, sensible policy revisions will be made. So many areas have the potential to be simplified whilst still retaining the integrity required.
Let’s Just Examine One Policy
The “Domain Name Eligibility and Allocation Policy Rules for the Open 2LDs” is in drastic need of overhaul. Why? Let me give you some bullet points.
- It’s confusing, and can be contradictory. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on the policy, you then see in the small print that you should also refer to the “Guidelines on the Interpretation of Policy Rules for Open 2LDs”. Yes, you’ve got it – rules to explain the rules!
- The eligibility and allocation requirements in Schedule C (2) below could so easily be simplified. The “Close and Substantial Connection” is regularly either ignored, abused or worked around. I’d be willing to bet that if you gave me a day, I could find at least 1000 domains that didn’t comply with eligibility.
- “Domain monetisation” as required by auDA is an unnecessary charade (Clause 3 above).
- Where else in the developed world does the namespace administrator regulate the content you have on your website? Nowhere – so why should it be so in Australia?
- I was a panelist at one of the workshops at the auIGF in 2015, and I gave an example of this. (My fellow panelists comprised 3 lawyers and the then auDA Complaints Manager). I explained to the audience that if I purchase a 3 Letter domain, I am forced under auDA policy (3.a above) to effectively have a landing page with invented acronyms that have monetisation links! The only person in the room that was not gobsmacked by this was the auDA Complaints Manager.
- Here is an example of this policy in action. Think how much time and effort was put into this from all sides. It is an invented and unnecessary charade in my opinion.
Keep the strict Aussie only requirements like an ABN etc, but do away with the “close and substantial connection” requirements. These are simply too restrictive, and don’t really work.
Let people have whatever they want on their site – that includes nothing at all.
If .au wants to be progressive and compete with the rest of the world – particularly with all the new gTLD’s on the market – then this is a sensible step to take. In my humble opinion.
Ned O’Meara – 22nd November 2016