Australia's domain name regulator appears to have reversed a decision by Bottle Domains to switch its customers to another business with which the troubled domain reseller appears to be associated.
.au Domain Administration (auDA) chief executive Chris Disspain recently wrote to some of Bottle's customers, noting that Australian Style, the company that trades as Bottle Domains, had transferred their domain registrar without permission.
"You may have recently received an email from Australian Style Pty Ltd trading as Bottles Domains called 'Update to Bottle Domains Service Agreement', advising that your domain name was being transferred to another registrar, known as Bottles Domains Pty Ltd," wrote Disspain in one email seen by ZDNet.com.au, noting customers' passwords were also changed.
auDA reversed the transfers, saying they were against its policy, and has also changed customers' passwords and locked their domain names so that they cannot be transferred to other registrars without their consent.
Bottle Domains has posted a message on its website stating that it "vigorously disputes auDA's legal capacity to refuse the transfers" and suggested it would have auDA's actions reversed again. auDA CEO Chris Disspain was out of the country and not immediately able to respond to a request for comment.
auDA had de-accredited Bottle Domains (which is owned by controversial IT entrepreneur Nicholas Bolton) after it had been notified in February by the Australian Federal Police that there had been a security incident affecting Bottle Domains' customers. auDA also accused Bottle Domains of failing to notify it of a previous incident or to notify customers that their accounts might have been compromised. The incident is set to be heard in the Supreme Court in June, until which time Bottle Domains has been re-accredited.
Caught in the crossfire
Cove Business Technology has called upon the Federal Government to step in and do something about the dispute.
In a statement issued yesterday, Cove complained that when the dispute started, auDA contacted all of Bottle Domain's customers including those who belonged to resellers such as Cove, advising them to move their domain names to another registrar.
"We are effectively trapped in the middle of a dispute that we have no part of, and want no part of. Our customers have had enough of getting unwarranted emails about disputes that do not involve the company they deal with, which is us," Cove national sales manager Cheyne Jonstone said in a statement.
He said the dispute was costing Cove tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue and was damaging its brand. Yet there was no way to escape, according to the sales manager.
We are effectively trapped in the middle of a dispute that we have no part of, and want no part of.
Cove executive Cheyne Jonstone
"When we put together a plan to move all 3000 of our .au domain names away from Bottle Domains to another registrar, auDA tell us it simply cannot be done as they do not have the resources to unlock all of our domain names individually, nor is there a process available for us to seamlessly transfer them without inconveniencing our customers once again," Jonstone said.
He said this wasn't the first issue domain registrars had experienced with auDA — it has been trying unsuccessfully to become a domain registrar itself since May 2008, but has not met with success as it claimed auDA had shut the domain registrar accreditation process.
"We have asked on numerous occasions when we can become accredited, but have simply been told that it would be coming back soon. But after this press release, I'd hedge my bets to say that they won't be allowing us through the process even when it does become available," Jonstone said.
"Senator Stephen Conroy needs to act now and act quickly. The government appointed this body to implement policy and regulate the .au domain name space, but their actions of late demonstrate that they are failing to do that adequately, or more importantly, the actions of their CEO Chris Disspain."