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auDA clampdown deemed unfair

The Australian domain name regulator has been accused of indiscriminately deleting domains belonging to Empius Interactive, a claim the administrator denies.Empius -- a company which provides Web hosting services, including the negotiation of domain rights -- said auDA (.

The Australian domain name regulator has been accused of indiscriminately deleting domains belonging to Empius Interactive, a claim the administrator denies.

Empius -- a company which provides Web hosting services, including the negotiation of domain rights -- said auDA (.au Domain Administration) failed to exercise due care before taking action.

According to Michael Shorthill, a spokesperson for Empius, auDA initially confiscated the domain sprite.com.au -- belonging to the Perth-based company -- but later backtracked after realising Empius had a legitimate reason to own the name through its registered subsidiary, Sprite Multimedia.

Shorthill alleged that auDA tried to remove another domain name even though the company no longer owned it.

"This proves that auDA didn't even bother to check a lot of the domains ... [it] simply issued a delete order," he said.

Shorthill also claimed that the regulator deleted many other domains, saying: "Even though we gave perfectly valid reasons for them, and in some cases, [we] even had a site up and running."

When contacted, auDA CEO Chris Disspain said he wasn't aware of the sprite.com.au issue, and that no domains were expunged by accident.

However, Shorthill said that Disspain had personally e-mailed him about the sprite.com.au incident, implying that the issue was Empius' fault because it had failed to disclose its Sprite Multimedia connection.

Shorthill contended it should have been easy for auDA to trace ownership records since the WHOIS database publicly lists domain owners.

Disspain refused to comment further as the matter is currently under investigation.

On June 6, auDA seized more than 1,000 domains from search engine company Ansearch, saying its intended use did not comply with the regulator's policies. From this list, more than 100 names were then purchased by Empius.

Empius' Shorthill confirmed his company had no connection with Ansearch but merely monitored potential domains for purchase.