Government eyes auDA regulation?

Government eyes auDA regulation?

Summary: The Federal Government has been looking into Australian domain name administrator auDA following a number of complaints, according to a domain name registrant.

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The Federal Government has been looking into Australian domain name administrator auDA following a number of complaints, according to a domain name registrant.

He was 100 per cent in [agreement] that auDA had operated outside of their own policy guidelines.

AWSDA president Paul Klerck

Australian Web Site Developers Association (AWSDA) president Paul Klerck has claimed the industry-regulated body wrongly terminated 500 of its domain names. He has been lobbying the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) for action to be taken against the body.

Klerck, who is also the business owner of Infolink IT, a web design company, said he had personally invested over $100,000 in setting up AWSDA only to have it effectively shut down after auDA chief executive officer Chris Disspain "switched off" a number of its domain names.

According to Klerck, the association was building "information portals" using websites with the suffix .org.au. These portals provided Wikipedia-type information on different topics such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Melbourne Cup. The association would register the corresponding domain names for the portals.

Once a website was built, Klerck said the association would then place advertisements on it — or have the websites sponsored — with the proceeds going to charity.

Klerck said he was told after registering some .org.au domain names that he needed to provide proof of the association's existence to the regulator in order to be eligible for the domains. He did this, he said, and everything seemed to be in order.

"Then the next thing, they've [auDA] come back after we've registered more domains ... [and] decided 'no', that they don't believe that we have right to usage over these and that they are switching them off," Klerck said.

Disspain believed the names the association were registering didn't comply with its criteria for registering .org.au domain names, according to Klerck. auDA therefore terminated the over 500 domain names registered by the association, Klerck said. Klerck disputed the terminations at the time they occurred.

Klerck then approached his lawyers. He said they had found there were "no grounds" under auDA's policy to terminate the domain names. The matter was then taken up with the DBCDE, Klerck said, which had failed to get back to him in a timely fashion.

This then caused Klerck to approach one of his local MPs who referred the matter back to the department. According to Klerck, he then received a response from someone within the department who said the incident was "not an isolated" one.

Assistant secretary, spectrum and wireless services/networks policy and regulation, Brenton Thomas at the department told the association that it would "urge" auDA to give him a professional response as to why the 500 domain names were terminated, said Klerck.

According to Klerck, the department approached auDA's Disspain, who rejected the offer to respond, saying that because legal action was threatened he wouldn't comment further.

This caused the department, Klerck said, to "urge" the association to push forward with its complaint in a formal manner so that it could take the matter to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

Klerck quoted Thomas as saying there was a "major file" within the department with people experiencing similar issues with auDA. Klerck said Thomas had told him the government needed to "voice this in parliament".

"He was 100 per cent in [agreement] that auDA had operated outside of their own policy guidelines," Klerck said.

ZDNet.com.au attempted to contact Thomas to verify quotes cited by Klerck, but he referred the communication onto the department's media team.

When asked for comment, auDA's Disspain said the administrator "never" commented on individual decisions. He would not comment further, suggesting instead that ZDNet.com.au make contact with Conroy's department.

The DBCDE did not confirm or deny meetings with Klerck, saying only in a statement that it "continues its normal oversight role of auDA" and that it kept "all policy issues under examination in providing its ongoing advice to government".

It did say that it had reserve powers to "make changes to the administration of the Australian domain name space under the Telecommunications Act 1997 and Australian Communications and Media Authority Act 2005", although it then went on to say that no changes to the current industry self-regulatory regime were being considered "at this time".

"While the government encourages all stakeholders in the community to raise any issues of concern with auDA in the first instance, we are also always keen to hear from all stakeholders on how arrangements could potentially be improved," it said.

Klerck said he was going to push his complaint further with government and was considering registration of a political party to lobby government further on the issue.

Disspain came under the spotlight recently when stephenconroy.com.au was placed into "pending delete" for not being eligible for registration. The owner then registered the business name Stephenconory and was successfully able to register the domain.

Earlier, auDA had a victory when the Supreme Court of Victoria ruled that it had acted correctly by deciding to terminate the registrar accreditation of Nicholas Bolton's registry company Australian Style, trading as Bottle Domains.

Topics: Government AU, Legal, Tech Industry

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47 comments
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  • 'Information Portals' - pffft

    These 'Information Portals' are nothing but cyber-squatting advertising machines. good riddance.
    anonymous
  • Not so innocent

    This article paints Paul Klerck as an innocent victim when in reality it appears he is trying to sneakily get around the rules that are in place to prevent the abuse of the .org.au name space.

    In particular, he is registering premium keyword .org.au domains for the purpose of generating advertising revenue - a practice known as "domain monetisation". Many people despise this practice and occasionally refer to it as cyber-squatting.

    The ONLY reason for monetising domains is to make a profit. It wouldn't surprise me if the plan was to syphon the advertising revenue back into his business or personal accounts.

    In my opinion auDA has crossed the line many times, but in this instance I hope they do stop people like Paul from abusing the .org.au namespace.
    anonymous
  • This is very confusing

    "Earlier, auDA had a victory when the Supreme Court of Victoria ruled that it had acted correctly by deciding to terminate the registrar accreditation of Nicholas Bolton's registry company Australian Style, trading as Bottle Domains."

    If this is the case then why are they still in business? I use DomainCentral for all my domains and they seem to be tied up with this Australian Style mob in some way.
    anonymous
  • Aust Government Should Review auDA

    Why should Australian business be tied up in red tape, by auDAs outdated, antiquated policies that restrict a free market?

    Anyone should be able to register a domain name - as long as the content is illegal, there shouldn't be a problem!
    anonymous
  • AUDA is right here

    Look at this so-called AWSDA. It has about 5 'members' and an empty web site.

    I've been a web developer in Australia for over 10 years now and I've never heard of them.

    Essentially you have here is a small businessman complaining about some rules he doesn't like.

    It has nothing to do with any higher principles, or politics, or regulatory failures etc etc.

    Lots of small businesses in Australia operate under various rules and regulations, and web developers/ domainers do too. This isn't the wild-west.

    What's dissappointing about this issue is that all this fuss appears to be about the creation of hundreds of web-spam, made for Adsense (and *SEO link-farming*) websites under the org.au domain.

    If it was about a real issue like AUDA getting too big for it's boots, or the AU domain name rules being flawed, I would be more sympathetic.

    But I think AUDA is acting correctly here. And the bureaucrats at DBCDE should be supporting AUDA.
    anonymous
  • 500 .org.au domains?

    Lets say he registered three domain names per "organisation" (for reduency and to handle spelling errors, etc). That means he must be acting on behalf of 160-odd separate organisations... not likely.

    Also, auDA policy is pretty clear:
    http://www.auda.org.au/policies/auda-2008-10/
    http://www.auda.org.au/policies/auda-2008-06/
    anonymous
  • It seems auDA may be right

    Without commenting on the current issues, it is vital that we have a strong and independent TLD arbiter.

    The auDA board has an effective mix of representation from both sides. It would probably produce the usual mess if uninformed politicians tried to intrude into a system which seems to work very well on behalf of all responsible entities.
    anonymous
  • Who is he kidding?!?!

    This seems to be most strange that one person would need to register 500 domain names. Even as his explanation "the association would then place advertisements on it - or have the websites sponsored - with the proceeds going to charity." sound dodgey! If it looks like a scam and smells like a scam.... well.. People like that are not wanted in this industry.
    anonymous
  • auDA vs. stephenconroy.com.au

    "When asked for comment, auDA's Disspain said the administrator "never" commented on individual decisions. He would not comment further, suggesting instead that ZDNet.com.au make contact with Conroy's department."

    This is in direct contrast to our case, where Chris Disspain made several public statements to various media outlets only a few months ago.
    anonymous
  • Editors, please

    Dear Zdnet editors,

    It's surprising you allowed Ben Grub to take this angle for this story. It's almost entirely the unsubstantiated opinion of Klerck.

    A more appropriate and interesting angle would be that auDA may have breached its own policies to shut down a cyber-squater that bought 500 .org.au under the premise as a not-for-profit association. Then take a deeper look at the association and how the sites were being (ab)used and you have an interesting tale to tell.
    anonymous
  • AuDA Domain Registration

    Good on you Paul. auDA has been dragging the chain with their policies on .org.au for ages. Weird Policies and everyone knows it. auDA have way too much control and not answerable to anyone - apart from a few weird arbitration bodies (that auDA established themselves!). Did someone say conflict of interest?

    When you think about it, auDA still need to feel important like they have authority over SOMETHING - that being in the .org.au domain space. If couldn't play "super cop" over the .org.au then what would they have left to enforce?
    anonymous
  • Get it right mate.

    AUDA domain monetisation policy allows advertising for the .au domain space. It is not cybersquatting unless you are depriving a trademark holder of a domain - and then trying to sell them the domain.

    It would be nice if everyone understood domain registration policies before commenting.

    auda needs an overhaul though... or to be overthrown. I think this Mr Klerck is spot on. But did he need an MP's office to tell him that there were so many complaints against AUDA for this type of thing?
    anonymous
  • Profit over Integrity?

    .org.au is for non-profit organisations not cyber-squatters and domainers trying to make a profit.

    If auDA didn't protect .org.au it would soon be overrun with useless parked domains, generating profits for cyber-squatters and domainers.
    anonymous
  • Lack of Knowledge says it all

    Your comment lacks total knowledge or an understanding of anything. AWSDA is an association that was only incorporated last year so of course memberships are small the association is not a football club membership.

    Do we live in a domacratic country? why should auDA have say over something they clearly have no rights over? And what is auDA? lets talk business men what outside dealings does the CEO of auDA have or is involved with?

    Your comments are not valid and no the sites AWSDA put on line were not web-spam they all had original content and could be added to by the general public upon moderation. Stick to the facts not the fiction MR or MRS I have been in the web development industry for 10 years as your 10 years in business tends to leaves you wanting on the business side.

    The DBCDE should support AWSDA because the facts remain, AWSDA met auDA policy guidelines. AWSDA also asked to have a seperate moderater which it would pay for the moderater to help resolve this situation but was denied by auDA.

    IF AWSDA was prepared to discuss compromise with auDA as to site content and the way they could better meet auDA stand over tactics not guidelines. WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM? I tell you auDA like their open loose policy guidelines so they can adapt these when it suits themselves.

    This is not only about AWSDA vs auDA it is about auDA being more answerable and being more compliant in an appeal situation auDA will never give you the right of appeal they say if you don't like talk with our lawyers. Mind you where does the money come from for all the ongoing legal battles that auDA have?

    And last but not least as an AUstralian TAX payer all tax payers have the right to governmerment support on any matter that is why we have ministers.

    Thats my say Paul Klerck AWSDA President not Mr or MRS Anonymous.
    anonymous
  • One person was not registering 500 domains and Association was

    Greg, I always look and laugh at the way people comment on what they look at as the issue and not the facts although I apprecaiate opinions that is the right of free speech and trade.

    I make comment to the word trade you see, if an association a club or organisation meets a policy guideline for rights and use over a domain name or domain names should they be able to register them? 1 or 500 or 5000 or should auDA do a back flip on their own policy guidelines and say sorry after they allowed AWSDA to registed prove eligibilty and then allow AWSDA to purchase more. So what I will do is set up some of the so called dodgey material online under www.directories.org.au which auDA allowed because they agreed AWSDA did build information portals and directories with original content and we will let the public decide.

    And by the way an association can't run scams so when we say we support charities and non for profit groups we do, so have an nice day and keep sniffing my friend.
    anonymous
  • The Above Comment

    You are wrong for the following reasons:
    1. An Incorporated Association an Association can legally make money to sustain itself.

    2. As far as what you "think" his plans are is irrelivant to the issue.

    3. Your opinion doesn't coun't as your argument largely involves speculation as opposed to fact.

    4. Paul Klerck is on to something here. Unlike the comment above, his arguments have merit. At least he has the guts to put his name behind what he says.
    anonymous
  • I love the comments posted by Anonymous

    Stand up and be a man I post my name and my title. One might assume that auDA is hard at work here with comments of cyber-spuatting.

    When it all gets really hard auDA always refers to cyber-squating.

    How is the domain name greatbarrierreef.org.au or boating.org.au cyber-squating this is obviously ignorance hard at work.

    And by the way AWSDA members or the board have not made any money from advertising revenue in fact the members and the board have donated financially and physically to each project. So your wrong again and AWSDA will stay open and allow any independent financial audit of our association.

    Anyone else care to comment? auDA or public.
    anonymous
  • TAX PAYERS HAVE RIGHT TO VOICE IN GOVERNMENT

    As Tax Payers we have right of appeal and to be heard by a voice in goverment when a business like auDA is meant to be doing their job correctly but DO NOT.

    It appears that auDA will always be happy to take their registration fees on domains for policy policing they then backflip on.
    anonymous
  • Ben Grub

    Ben Grub did a great job. He is a great ZD Net reporter!

    By the way Cyber-Squatting is where a domain owner infrignges the rights of a trademark holder and tried to sell the domain back to him or her.

    So how can Great Barrier Reef be a trademark? So it is NOT Cyber Squatting.

    There are SO many people commenting on this that don't understand the definition of CyberSquatting - they are Cyber-Losers.
    anonymous
  • auDA Profit Over Integrity - You are right.

    auDA's "profit over integrity" are in Online Domain Auctions.

    Why don't auDA "protect" (Words used in the above comment) Australia's main domains like .com.au - would you see these as "Useless Parked Domains" and "Domainers" auctioning their domains off by the thousands.

    - seems fine to do when auDA are making a MASSIVE profit from the HUGE fees they charge to transfer the domain ownership.
    anonymous