The federal government has launched a review into the administration of the .au domain, following months of turmoil.
.au Domain Administration (auDA) currently oversees the management of domain names in Australia.
“The Turnbull Government has announced a review of the management of the .au domain to ensure it remains fit for purpose in serving the needs of Australians online,” Minister for Communications, the Hon Mitch Fifield said in a statement last week.
“The review will be undertaken by the Department of Communications and the Arts and will examine the most appropriate framework for the domain.”
Interim Board Chair at auDA, Erhan Karabardak, welcomed the review.
“The .au domain is one of the most trusted domain zones in the world and we look forward to working with the government and Australian internet community to maintain and enhance that position,” he said.
“It is critical that we have the best possible model for managing the domain, and that our risk and mitigation strategies are among the best in the world.”
The review will seek industry and community views on best practice approaches for management of the .au domain and make recommendations on mitigation strategies to ensure the stability of the .au domain.
It will also reassess the government’s expectations for the management of .au, which were established in 2000.
The review comes following a period of unrest at auDA, which has seen a total of eight directors leave since June 2016, including former Independent Chair Stewart Benjamin, who resigned in July this year, amidst a planned vote of no confidence against him.
“auDA is an organisation that did not change for a long time, and it has been through a period of accelerated change in recent months,” he said at the time.
“Driving transition is hard for the Board, it can sometimes be hard for staff, and it’s clearly created concerns for some members.”
The “change” is most likely to refer to the 2016 decision to follow New Zealand and the United Kingdom in allowing second level domains.
This would mean domain names could be directly registered as second level domains, for example ‘youdomain.au.’
While the proposed change has mostly received support, it has raised a number of concerns regarding its implementation.
Questions over who gets priority registration rights for matching .au names and the mechanisms for implementing direct registration remain unanswered.
There is also discussion over whether certain domain names, such as ‘police.au’ and ‘Australia.au’, be 'reserved' (withheld) from the public.
auDA has created a .au Policy Review Panel and is currently welcoming written submissions for the implementation of second level domain registrations.