Thursday, 26 July 2018 11:46

Four domain vendors control 70% of auDA membership: claim

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In the run-up to the special general meeting to be held by auDA, the Australian domain administrator, on Friday, an analysis of the current membership by one member shows that just four domain name vendors control 70% of those on the rolls.

auDA member Josh Rowe, who compiled the statistics of the membership, told iTWire that it was quite easy to get the numbers after obtaining a membership list with full details.

Last week, another member, Jim Stewart, the chief executive of StewArt Media, had claimed that only 40% of the members were now from Australia, while 30% were based in the Philippines, 15% from Canada, 7% from the US, 4% from Ukraine, 2% from Singapore and the balance from a number of other countries.

To that auDA had responded by saying: ""It would appear that this is an attempt at some sort of racial profiling based on a person’s name. It has no validity whatsoever."

Rowe said the list off which he worked contained email addresses and also physical addresses for each member. In most cases, it was their own office addresses, which showed how the membership was concentrated.

Tomorrow's SGM is being held to consider resolutions for the sacking of three auDA directors – chair Chris Leptos and Sandra Hook and Suzanne Ewart. Stewart has led the push for the SGM.

An additional resolution, to express lack of confidence in the chief executive Cameron Boardman, has been disallowed by the board.

Rowe said his analysis showed that 527 members (39.2%) were from Dreamscape Networks, 201 (15%) from the Arq Group (formerly known as Melbourne IT), 166 (12.4%) from Afilias (which runs the auDA namespace), and 38 (2.8%) from VentraIP.

Another 35 members, or 2.6%, appeared to be related to various auDA directors, he added.

In an email sent to a section of the membership, and obviously aimed at influencing their vote at the SGM, Rowe wrote: "Your single auDA vote will only count for 0.1% of all auDA members.

"These domain name sellers, and their employee memberships in auDA appear to have now captured approximately 70% of the auDA membership. This had the full endorsement of the auDA CEO, and board (except for Tim Connell). However, these new members are not eligible to vote at the Special General Meeting."

Rowe said he intended to report what he characterised as "shocking behaviour" to the authorities for potential cartel behaviour.

Contacted for comment, an auDA spokesperson told iTWire: "The auDA constitution states: 9.5 Qualifications for Demand Class Membership. 'Any Legal Person that does not qualify for Supply Class membership may apply to be a Demand Class Member.'

"Further, recommendations 10 and 11 of the Federal Government Review stated: 'That auDA reform its existing membership model by creating a single member class or a functional constituency model and that membership reform is non- discriminatory and supported with transparent membership guidelines.' and 'That auDA diversify its member base in the short-term a focus on extending membership to stakeholders that are under-represented'.

"auDA actively encourages new membership to achieve the reforms as outlined by the government and to make auDA a modern and representative organisation."

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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