Australian Domain Name Administrator (auDA) decided to place newly registered domain www.stephenconroy.com.au on the pending deletion list using its own procedures, not because of a request from the Communications Minister, the administrator said today.
We don't care what the website says or does. It's not our issue. The question is, are you eligible for the domain?
"We were not contacted by anyone in the government," auDA CEO Chris Disspain told ZDNet.com.au. "This was picked up by our normal checks and balances." The site was being used to lambast Stephen Conroy's internet service provider level filtering.
Itself only newly registered as a company, Sapia Pty Ltd registered the site on Thursday afternoon. It was online until Friday afternoon when it was taken down by auDA. auDA had given SAPIA a three-hour period to explain why it was entitled to the name and when unsatisfied with the answer, temporarily killed the site. SAPIA believed the time was too short and is claiming that auDA is censoring its opinions.
"We've received widespread support and messages of condemnation aimed at auDA for their actions, which seem to have been rightly interpreted as a manifestly political move," the company said on its new site at stephen-conroy.com."They also confirmed having received numerous other complaints from members of the public regarding auDA's actions." It said that Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) had pledged its support. EFA is also against Conroy's filter.
Disspain said that there was no element of censorship in its decision to investigate the site, but rather just a concern about whether the company really had cause to use the stephenconroy name. "We don't care what the website says or does. It's not our issue. The question is, are you eligible for the domain?" he said.
The domain name has not been taken out of Sapia's hands as yet, only made inactive, Disspain said. Sapia had fourteen days from last Friday to show that it is eligible to hold the name. If the company is able to prove a connection to the name, for example via showing it offers a product or service carrying the name, it will be allowed to keep using the domain.
Sapia has said its right to use the name stems from owning a consultancy with Stephen Conroy in its title. "There is nothing on the website which suggests that is the case," Disspain said.
To explain the three-hour notice auDA had given Sapia before disabling the site, Disspain said that Sapia should have been able to quickly say why it was eligible for the name, because when parties register the domain names, they give a warranty of eligibility. If the eligibility of a site is looked into, the likelihood that the party has breached that warranty, and the day of the week, dictated how long was given for the party to explain why it was entitled to have the site, he said.
To illustrate, Disspain used the domain fightcentre as an example. If the domain was being used for a site on a boxing gym, he might give the owners five days to explain their eligibility to the name. On the other hand, if the site was full of airline advertisements, it would seem that the domain registrant was trying to take advantage of the misspelling of flightcentre. Disspain would ask for an explanation within 24 hours, unless it were on a Friday in which case auDA tried to get an explanation before the weekend so that the site did not remain up without reason for two further days.
Since some domain name owners didn't need to dishonestly hold a site for long for it to be useful, time was often of the essence, according to Disspain.
Disspain acknowledged that if the domain name of a not famous person was registered, the administrator would normally only act if there was a complaint. However, for high profile names like Elvis or Tony Abbott, he said, the administrator moved proactively.