Australian domain registration policy “review”

I am a very concerned Australian web user and .au namespace domain registrant.

Why am I concerned? Because auDA is “considering” relaxing their policies
regarding the .au namespace in order to open up Australian domain names for “monetisation”… Yikes!

Their 2006 discussion paper discusses the differences between “domainers” and “cybersquatters”,
but I am yet to see any commitment from auDA to allow one and prevent the other under the proposed policy changes.

This has been coming for a while now, I remember reading an ad in an
Australian newspaper seeking feedback about the new policy direction almost a year ago.

I dutifully snipped the ad and pinned it
to the wall of shame where I was working at the time.

This move may be a reaction to the fact that 2002 auDA policy changes have resulted in
“dubious” registrations of .au domains

A clarification published in 2006 states that this dubious behaviour is allowed as the registrants are “domainers” (they can’t be “cybersquatters” because currently .au domains cannot be sold on by registrants).

So in order to restore balance auDA are proposing to relax the restrictions
even further. If these changes go ahead, everyone can exploit the system!

If registrants are allowed to sell their domains, we will see “domainers” become “cybersquatters” overnight, and the Australian namespace will be irreversibly choked-up and polluted like other namespaces such as .com and .net

The survey

Today I recieved an email from Jo Lim, an
annoucement that:

auDA is conducting an
online survey of .au registrants
and Internet users
as part of the 2007 Names Policy Panel’s review of .au domain name
policies.

If you are an .au registrant or an Internet user, I urge you to make the effort
to complete the survey.

In case you aren’t yet clear how I feel about this policy review or why I feel that way,
I will let my survey responses speak for me:

Q6. What do you understand the ‘.au’ part of a domain name to mean or signify?

In a word, the .au represents Australia. It explicitly means that any third level domain within the .au namespace belongs
to an Australian company, organisation, or individual with a legitimate claim to a domain in the relevant second level namespace.

It is because of these restrictions that .au domains carry a higher level of trust by Australian web users than other less-protected namespaces.

Q11. As previously noted, currently in Australia you cannot register a domain name without a second level. For example, ‘xyz.com.au’ is allowed but ‘xyz.au’ is not allowed.
Do you think that domain names without a second level should be allowed?

Strongly Against

Q12. Why do you say you Strongly Against such registrations?

By allowing second level registrations you would essentially create the new “must have” namespace, which just puts pressure on businesses and individuals who already have to purchase .com, .net, .org, .com.au, .net.au domains to protect their trademarks and/or intellectual property.

If it were to happen I would strongly suggest strict eligibility restrictions to prevent it from becoming the home of a few legitimate sites among a sea of “squatter” sites.

Q13. Currently, people and organisations don’t have the right to sell their ‘.au’ domain names on to somebody else.
Which of the following answers best describes your view ..

Strongly Against

Q14. Why do you say you Strongly Against being able to sell your domain name?

The restriction that .au domains cannot be sold means that Australian businesses are able to pay a fair price for a domain that represents their business.

To an extent, these restrictions combined with the eligibility policies prevent unscrupulous individuals from holding domains ransom, and extorting
money from Australian business owners and citizens. These restrictions are a good thing!

Q15. Finally, do you have any other comments or advice on future policy for the Australian Domain Name Administrator?

To date Australian Domain Name Administration has represented fair policies for protecting the integrity of the .au namespace.

I would like to see the administration continue in this tradition, with policies that protect the interests of Australian
companies, organisations, citizens and protect the faith that web users from around the world have in the .au namespace.

If I could suggest any change, it would be that the restrictions should be re-tightened.

I do not know whether these changes are being considered to “level the playing field” for all domain sharks, or
whether pressure from large Australian businesses has prompted the change (they can afford to be successful “domainers”), but I do know: I don’t like it.

I fear that my (our) cries for sanity will be for naught, but I’ll do what I can to try to prevent this nonsense.

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