auDA: No govt request to kill Conroy site

auDA: No govt request to kill Conroy site

Summary: Australian Domain Name Administrator (AuDA) decided to place newly registered domain on the pending deletion list using its own procedures, not because of a request from the Communications Minister, the administrator said today.


Australian Domain Name Administrator (auDA) decided to place newly registered domain 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?

Chris Disspain

"We were not contacted by anyone in the government," auDA CEO Chris Disspain told "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"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.

Topics: Censorship, Government AU, Legal, Enterprise 2.0

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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  • Nothing to whinge about

    As much as I dislike Labor's policies this is a clear breach of domain rules and AUDA did the right thing. These people have nothing to whinge about apart from a bit of hurt pride.
  • Australia's Non-Government Censor

    Why bother with due process when the CEO of a non-Government organisation can censor domains on his personal beliefs.

    Am I allowed to use an Australian domain to show my distain at Disspain, or would that be censored too?
  • Can auDA point to any other examples where it killed a site in three hours, in breach of it's own public processes?

    We'll never really know if an influential government official (elected or appointed) influenced this decision by auDA.

    But what we can find out is how often auDA has deregistered domains at 3 hours notice - in breach of their own publicly available policies (which I expect will be amended in quick order).

    ZDNet, can one of your reporters get an answer to this?
  • Agree with auDA's action

    I have to agree with auDA's swift action. As a domain name reseller it is good to see that the policies put in place are used.

    Although I dislike the policies the government and Stephen Conroy have proposed. It is stated quite clear that to register a .au domain name you must meet eligibility.

    Very often you find that after inital registration of .au domain names, you need to provide futher information aka business abn, pty ltd, trademarks or else the domain name is put on hold.
  • Lets search for other precedents

    I second this motion. How can we find out whether this has ever happened before?
  • Have you read the article? auDA disagrees with your prognosis

    Disspain himself has said that at this point in time is is unknown whether the domain rules have been breached, via his comment:

    " ... Sapia has 14 days from last Friday to show it has cause ..."

    Essentially Disspain's actions seem extraordinarily draconian in this instance. Obvious abuse of a domain name of a commercial organisation will eventually be acted upon in some number of days, depending on how Disspain feels about it on the day, whereas democratic free speech about a loony politician will be shut down almost immediately.
    Pretty clear there is a pet agenda at work here. The auDA has already been taken over by the Labour Party. So much for freedom on the internet.
  • Who cares why - it SHOULD be pulled

    Who gives the proverbial stiff sh1t HOW it was identified - the domain should be pulled or 'suspended' to proof of meeting the rules is shown.

    AUDA rules ( clearly show:
    Schedule C
    2. Domain names in the 2LD must be:
    a) an exact match, abbreviation or acronym of the registrant’s name or trademark; or
    b) otherwise closely and substantially connected to the registrant.

    If they registering entity can prove they have a stephen conroy working there or that they sell "stephen conroys" they can have it. Beyond that, they should register a or something similar per the normal "stick it to the man" method. :)
  • And If it was a 'we love hime' website ???

    So you think this is just about sticking ever-so-pedantically to the exact letter of the rules. Are we to presume that if a website praising the said person then auDA would nonetheless have ripped it down just as quickly?

    Please. no one is that naive. We have a clear case of vested interest being the motivating factor here - and I for one do not feel comfortable about allowing it to happen.
  • Take down of conroy site

    auDA, I just don't believe you
  • Please. Grow up.

    I am completely against Labor's "Clean Feed" filter, but cannot agree with some of the juvenile tactics being used to protest it - the website included.

    For heaven's sake, GROW UP, people.

    P.S. Why do I get the idea that some of the more childish and foot-stompy of these "rage against the machine" tactics are the brainchildren of those on the Left who actually supported the machine in question in the first place - "Anyone But Howard!" - and are now suffering severe buyer's remorse?
  • Pfft

    You, sir, are a moron of enormous magnitude.
  • They are clueless

    Didn't Disspain say:

    "We don't care what the website says or does."


    "There is nothing on the website which suggests that is the case,"

    Seems like a contradiction.

    As I see it, they are entitled to hold it, just like the Australian Coal Association is allowed to hold If it is in the businesses interests to not have an internet filter, then they have the right to hold a domain to protest against that. Therefore the have the right to put up whatever protest material they see fit to use, even if crude or satirical.

    As far as the auDA are concerned: "We don't care what the website says or does."
  • .

    You, sir, are a moron of enormous magnitude <-- this.
  • Disspain

    The place to go to shop for your painkillers.

    One valid domain name...
  • Beat them at their own game

    What this needs is some enterprising young geek to write a Stephen Conroy online game that's available through the .au domain.

    Or maybe start selling Stephen Conroy T-shirts - that should be easier!

    Come on, you've got 14 days and it's quiet over Christmas...
  • I tend to agree.

    The domain name should have been something like "stop-stephen-conroy" to make its intent more clear.

    Using his name alone, does suggest to the someone seeing the link that it may be his own personal site.

    If I created the domain name "" then to the potential visitor I'm representing myself as Michael J. Fox and rightfully should be asked to change it.

    If I created "" then it would clearly be a fan-site, and there would be no valid reason for it to pulled.

    I have a *.net domain registration that Paramount could rightfully ask me to give up, I've owned it for several years, and still haven't got around to start building the site, but people with parallel intentions have since registered the same name as *.org which is active and running, and Paramount has not interfered there either.
  • no difference...

    Hopothetically, if your anme was 'John Citizen' and there was a website (irrespective it it praised you are defamed you) out there - it shouldnt matter if it was you that requested the domain be canned, your wife, your brother, your uncle, your church minister, your employer, your local newsagent, your member for parliament or some complete stranger. If the request came in to AuDA opposing the domain based on it NOT being elligible, then it should be frozen pending deletion if it doesn't meet the rules.

    So I say again - who cares who/why? it SHOULD be pulled
  • Big Mistake

    How can you say that this domain is not closely and substantially related to the registrant? The website offers a product in the form of a political discussion, the topic of which is the name of the domain. It is of no consequence whether that is a commercial activity or not.

    If the operators of the website published their content in the form on non-libellous reports on the activities of Stephen Conroy then the auDA would have caused significant detriment to their ability to operate a valid commercial enterprise. Not something I appreciate from national authorities.

    The decision to offer their content at no cost should have no bearing on the legitimacy of their claim. I think the auDA has made a fairly dire mistake.
  • ...but at least I didn't help elect the neofascists...

    1) You do not dispute my postscript
    2) Your juvenile response leads me to believe that my postscript was on the mark.

    Grow. Up. And next time, if you don't want fascists and control-freaks in charge of your lives, don't elect anyone on the Left. "Teachable moment," this.

  • fascists and control freaks...

    "Grow. Up. And next time, if you don't want fascists and control-freaks in charge of your lives, don't elect anyone on the Left. "Teachable moment," this."

    So the right dont have control freaks or fascists..
    Wasnt Adolf from the extreme right?? (2 birds with one stone..)

    Teachable moment indeed... Perhaps read some history.. Then mouth off...

    Vote Independent rather than for a Political Party. (Read some history on that too if you want..)

    The action to squash the domain with only a 3 hour time limit to respond stinks to high heaven.

    If its a high profile domain, why remove it at all?
    Shouldn't the rightful owner of the domain make the first move to have it squashed? If the domain name has been used illegally the longer it is available. The more damages can be awarded.

    This just doesn't make sense..

    Ok.. So the domain is a spoof site.. The auDA determined that the politician "Stephen Conroy" wasn't involved with the site.

    So exactly why did they squash it again?

    The site was obviously a spoof site. Obviously Senator Conroy would one day make an application to auDA for its removal.

    Quote "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."

    I notice the .com site wasn't threatened..

    The auDA must be really efficient.. (sic)

    This is just one reason WHY I dont own a domains.
    (Why would you??)

    That .au on the end is just a waste of characters and money. When .com domains can be purchased so much more cheaply.

    3 hours to answer the complaint? Excuse me.. but as a qualified geek I live on only a few hours sleep per night.. I have better things to do than check email all the time.. Sometimes I dont check email for a few days..

    Sheeeeesh!!! 3 Hours to respond???

    I dont remeber reading in the fine print that someone who PAYS MONEY to register the domain can have it SQUASHED if they fail to respond to email with a 3 hour deadline!

    Utterly Draconian.

    By the way.. Left are no better than RIGHT. Always Vote Independent!!

    If you think there was no preasure applied to auDA.. Then I have a bridge I'd like to sell you..