In a dispute over "grossly misleading" tactics, domain name resellers and some ISPs have blocked their customers' access to a competitor's Web site and are redirecting them to a consumer alert.
A group of 24 resellers and ISPs, led by Townsville's Beyond Net, have accused the Domain Name Authority of Australia (DNA) of tricking customers and have signed up to join the blocking action to DNA's site.
Rod Keys, DNA's business manager, responded by saying that the action is unfair to the customers being blocked but that it doesn't affect DNA's customers. Keys also pointed out that he has had no complaints from his customers that renew domain names through DNA.
DNA has been approaching name holders whose subscriptions are coming up for renewal and offering reregistration services. The company has been writing in hard copy to .com.au name owners prior to the renewal date and offering to renew their names. Keys said the name holders' details were gathered from a publicly available database of .com.au names.
DNA's defence is that the move is legal, while its competitors have accused it of falsely representing itself as an authority and being deceptive.
The consumer alert warns that the letter and invoice that DNA is sending out is "grossly misleading and is designed to trick you into transferring the billing and management of your domain name away from your current ISP or hosting service to them". The alert also accuses DNA of deliberately choosing its name "to appear to be the official domain registry for domains in Australia."
According to Keys, allegations against DNA on the consumer alert were unsubstantiated and the letter and invoice were like a catalogue in the mail, with an offer to renew. He also commented that he is in discussion with his lawyers about the accusations.
DNA is licensed with Melbourne IT to renew names. A spokesperson from Melbourne IT said that the practice of unsolicited renewals is difficult for Melbourne IT to police.