2010 Names Policy Panel recommendations accepted by auDA Board

Posted by Jo Lim on 5 September 2011

I am pleased to report that at its August meeting the auDA Board accepted the final report of the 2010 Names Policy Panel.

The following recommendations were accepted:

Domain Name Eligibility and Allocation Policy Rules for Open 2LDs:

  • That the requirement for registrants to be Australian (or registered to trade in Australia) should remain in place.
  • That the “special interest club” eligibility criterion for org.au and asn.au domain names should be more clearly defined.
  • That auDA should publish the results of its periodic audits.
  • That auDA’s position on third party rights with respect to domain name leasing or sub-licensing arrangements should be clarified and published.
  • That the close and substantial connection rule for id.au should be relaxed to include domain names that refer to personal hobbies and interests.
  • That direct registrations under .au should not be allowed at this time.

Reserved List Policy:

  • That the Reserved List Policy should be retained, and updated as necessary to ensure consistency with Commonwealth legislation.
  • That the names and abbreviations of Australian states and territories should remain on the Reserved List, but may be released on application provided that the proposed registrant is eligible to use the name under normal policy rules, and that they have received permission from the relevant state or territory government.

Domain Monetisation Policy:

  • That:

a)    the Domain Monetisation Policy (2008-10) should be abolished as a separate policy;

b)    Schedules C and E of the Domain Name Eligibility and Allocation Policy Rules for Open 2LDs (2008-05) should be amended to include domain monetisation under the close and substantial connection rule for com.au and net.au domain names (as exemplified in Attachment A to the Panel’s report);

c)    the existing conditions of use on domain names registered on the basis of domain monetisation under the “close and substantial” connection rule should be retained;

d)    the definition of “domain monetisation” should be replaced with a description of permissible practice, to accommodate a range of monetisation models; and

e)    the Guidelines for Accredited Registrars on the Interpretation of Policy Rules for the Open 2LDs (2008-06) should be amended to include additional explanatory material regarding domain monetisation.

Prohibition on Misspellings Policy

  • That the Prohibition on Misspellings Policy should be retained in its current form.

The following recommendations were noted, pending further information from auDA staff regarding implementation issues:

  • That registrants should be able to license a domain name for a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 year period.
  • That, in the absence of any compelling technical or policy reason to maintain the restriction, single character domain names should be released (subject to the registrant being eligible to register the name).

The auDA Board commended the Panel on its final report, and thanked Chair Derek Whitehead and Panel members for their efforts.

So that brings us to the end of another Advisory Panel process – our ninth Panel since 2000. I blogged about this Panel’s first public consultation back in December 2010. It’s been a long journey since then, and I think all Panel members were pleased (and not a little relieved) to reach the end of the road.

Panel meetings were well attended and there was much robust discussion and debate among members (you can read the minutes of their meetings). Ultimately there was consensus support (at least 2/3 majority) for all the Panel’s recommendations, although three Panel members chose to submit a minority report with respect to the recommendations on domain monetisation.

Taken as a whole, the Panel’s recommendations can be regarded as an affirmation of the current .au policy framework. Whilst there are some drafting changes to be made to individual policies, the fundamental policy principles remain the same. These can be summed up very briefly as 1) .au registrants must be Australian, and 2) .au registrants must be eligible to register their domain name. In other words, .au is not an “open slather” space like .com where anyone can register any domain name they like.

Derek Whitehead has chaired every naming policy Advisory Panel for auDA since 2000. With the benefit of over 10 years experience, Derek has observed that the nature of the Panel process lends itself to incremental change rather than seismic shifts in direction. This is due to the broad range of stakeholder groups represented on Panels, as well as the public consultations that Panels must undertake. As a result, Panel recommendations can sometimes end up being a carefully worded compromise between diametrically opposed viewpoints, especially on the more contentious issues.

So the next step is for auDA staff to implement the accepted recommendations, which mostly involves drafting amendments to policies. We are working on this now, and will make further announcements in due course.