auDA consults on direct .au registration, non-ASCII domains

Policy Review Board canvasses options for future of .au TLD

auDA has launched a public consultation on a potential radical shakeup of the .au domain space.

.au Domain Administration Ltd (auDA) is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 1999 to manage the .au top-level domain.

The organisation’s Policy Review Panel has released a discussion paper canvassing a number of options for the TLD’s future including allowing direct registration of .au domains (‘youdomain.au,’ for example) and closing off new registrations of .net.au.

“We believe significant reforms to the .au domain, like the ones we are proposing, should be presented openly to the public for consideration,” auDA Policy Review Panel chair John Swinson said in a statement.

“We encourage any interested Australian to come to the forums or to read and respond to the discussion paper online.”

The paper also calls for opinions on the use of non-ASCII characters — such as Arabic, Cyrillic or Chinese language characters — in .au domains.

“The Panel believes that there may be an unmet demand or untapped market for internationalised domain names given Australia’s multi-cultural community and the increasing demand for Australian products and services overseas,” the paper (PDF) states.

“Giving Australian products the chance to be understood by their international customers in their own scripts, while simultaneously retaining the trust associated with the .au domain, could be a real boon to primary producers and other exporters,” Swinson said.

Last year the federal government announced a review of auDA and the management of .au.

The move followed a period of turbulence in the organisation, including the departure of its inaugural CEO, concerns over a proposed code of conduct for auDA members and rumblings over the cost of .au domain registrations.

The terms of reference released by communications minister Senator Mitch Fifield said that in addition to examining the management of the .au top level domain the review would assess how to ensure that government and community expectations inform auDA’s operation and decision-making.

Submissions to that review are currently under consideration.

auDA’s Policy Review Panel will hold public forums on its proposals in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

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