auDA panel calls for allowing .au direct registrations

Draft recommendations from the names policy panel of the body responsible for the .au top-level domain has called for allowing Australian businesses and individuals to directly register domains such as domainname.au.

The .au Domain Administration (auDA) names policy panel has called for the opening up of the .au domain registration regime to allow for domain names to sit directly under .au top-level domain.

"The main reason the panel has recommended this change is that direct registrations would create more options," said Derek Whitehead, auDA panel chair and adjunct professor at Swinburne University of Technology. "They include names that are shorter, more appealing, and more memorable. They would make the domain name system simpler and easier to use."

Under current rules, domains have to sit under a second-level domain such as .com.au, .net.au, or id.au, and would remain in place should .au allow direct registrations. Existing rules that require the registering party to be an Australian individual or business would also remain in place.

"The panel believes that the existing rules relating to the reserved list and the prohibition on misspellings should apply to direct registrations, as well as other aspects of the .au policy framework such as the .au Dispute Resolution Policy, WHOIS policy, registrant transfers, and so on," the report said. "The panel's intention is to maintain consistency across all .au namespaces, to help ease the transition to direct registrations."

Individuals would be the big winners from the shift, the panel said, as it dismissed concerns about defensive domain buying and the opening up of the .au domain as being a form of rent seeking.

"It is also the case that a high proportion of Australian com.au names are relatively new (41 percent are in their first two-year registration cycle), and in reality, the system is quite volatile; it is therefore considered to be unlikely that large numbers of new names at the second level would remain unused for long periods of times as domain name registrants sit on them defensively," the panel said.

"The panel also notes that currently, about a third of Australian domain names do not resolve to nameservers (i.e. are not being used for email or website purposes), which has not resulted in any discernible degradation of the system's utility overall."

At the same time, the panel backed an earlier recommendation that the current two-year fixed cycle for domain renewals be changed to cater for renewals from one to five years.

The panel will be accepting submissions on its draft recommendations until the end of September.

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