Thursday, 19 April 2018 10:26

Labor welcomes auDA review, but questions need for .au change

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The Australian Labor Party has welcomed the findings of a government review into the au Domain Administration, the organisation that administers the Australian domain namespace, but has raised questions about the need for an .au domain.

In a joint statement, shadow communications minister Michelle Rowland and shadow digital economy minister Ed Husic said the party would work through the 29 recommendations made by the review, in consultation with stakeholders.

The results of the review were released on Wednesday and found that the current management framework was no longer fit for purpose.

There has been disquiet within auDA ranks in recent times, with some members pushing for the ouster of chief executive Cameron Boardman and three directors over the decision to change Australian domains from .com.au and similar suffixes to .au. Last week, chair Chris Leptos said the practices of several former auDA directors had been referred to the police in Victoria.

Rowland and Husic said: "The review correctly identifies the need to improve the governance of auDA to ensure the organisation can perform effectively, better represent consumers, and meet the needs of the community. However the review does not address the important issue of direct registration of the .au domains."

They said that though the auDA board had announced the change to .au in 2016, the Coalition Government had said nothing about it at all.

"Labor is yet to be persuaded about what problem direct registration is actually trying to solve – and who is calling for it?" Rowland and Husic said. "Further, there are concerns that such changes could force small businesses to pay additional fees to buy an extra domain they don’t need, or otherwise risk having their brand undermined.

"It is clear the Turnbull Government has been sleeping at the wheel and this risks leaving small businesses exposed."

The government review also released its terms of endorsement for auDA and asked it to provide, within 30 days, an implementation plan to demonstrate how it would achieve compliance with these terms by April 2020.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said if this was not forthcoming, he would look to appoint some other entity to manage the .au namespace.

Rowland and Husic asked the government to guarantee that small businesses would not have to incur new costs to register an extra Web domain – all in the name of protecting their brand.

"It’s clear the last thing small businesses need is another digital headache, particularly given the Turnbull Government’s abysmal track record with digital transformation and its second-rate NBN," the pair added.

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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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