6 October 2021

During the .au direct webinar held on 30 September 2021, auDA received numerous questions from auDA stakeholders - more than could be answered in the allocated time. The remaining questions have been summarised and auDA responses are set out below.

1. What consultation did auDA undertake when deciding to proceed with .au direct and the chosen Priority Allocation Process and did it balance views from all participants?

auDA undertook extensive public consultation before proceeding with .au direct.  Feedback received was overwhelmingly in favour of .au direct being launched for the benefit of the .au domain and Australian Internet users. Key consultation included:

  • 2015 Names Policy Panel: Two six‐week public consultations following which the Panel recommended the introduction of .au direct registration with a request for further work on the allocation method

  • 2017 Policy Review Panel: Public consultation from 4 February 2018 to February 2019 following which the Panel recommended the Priority Allocation Process for the introduction of .au direct

  • Public consultation on the final report of the 2017 Policy Review Panel: Consultation conducted in 2019 including face-to-face forums and online workshops.

Following consultations, the auDA Board considered the views of a broad range of stakeholders – including written submissions and a survey of 97,000 registrants – and found the majority of respondents in favour of .au direct. It was agreed auDA should proceed with .au direct.

Registration, eligibility, and Priority Allocation

2. What consultation did auDA undertake on the cut-off date?

auDA undertook extensive public consultation on its implementation of the 2017 Policy Review Panel recommendations in the .au namespace implementation rules during October 2019, and noted that the launch of au would be delayed until at least mid-2020.

Copies of the 2017 consultation report can be found here and the 2019 consultation report here.

Face-to-face consultation sessions were held in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, and online sessions were held in multiple time-zones. 

In relation to the cut-off date:

  • The concept of the two categories of priority domains, the need for a cut-off date, and the choice of the cut-off date received strong support
  • Existing registrants who created names well before 4 February 2018 generally supported the idea of the contention process
  • Registrants who had more recently registered new domain names in com.au accepted that the first person to register a particular name after the cut-off date would have priority
  • 65% of respondents agreed that the cut-off date of 4 February 2018 was still appropriate, despite the launch of second level names being delayed until mid-2020
  • 73% of respondents agreed that auDA had the right balance between protecting the interests of existing and new registrants.

3. Can I pre-register for a .au direct name?

auDA does not license domain names directly to consumers.

Registrars may choose to offer an expression of interest or pre-registration service directly to registrants prior to launch in March 2022. auDA cannot guarantee .au direct domain names will be allocated to parties who lodge an expression of interest.

4. What is the eligibility criteria for .au direct registrants?

Anyone who meets the eligibility requirement of having an Australian presence can register a .au direct domain name from a participating auDA accredited registrar. This includes registered businesses and not-for-profit organisations, sole traders, Australian citizens, and holders of an Australian trademark. The full definition of an Australian presence can be found in Section 1.4 of the .au licensing rules.   

A person applying for a .au domain name will need to provide evidence of their Australian presence, which will be validated by registrars prior to registration of a domain name licence.

5. How long can I register a .au direct name for?

Applications under the Priority Allocation Process will include a one-year licence.

New, from 20 September, .au direct registrations will be available for licence periods of 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 years as they are with existing namespaces such as com.au.

6. If registrants need to provide documentation like passports or drivers licenses to register, how will auDA ensure this personal data is protected?

As the administrator of Australian critical infrastructure, auDA is committed to the highest standards of information security management for our organisation and supply chain.

auDA and the .au registry operator are independently certified to the international ISO 27001 Information Security Management System (ISMS) standard, follow the security controls in the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) Essential Eight, and implement global DNS security standards such as DNSSEC.

auDA has also conducted a baseline security audit of all registrars that will be eligible to offer .au direct and is working with those registrars to achieve ISO 27001 certification. 

7. Are all currently registered .au domain names eligible to apply for .au direct name?

All existing domain registrations in the .au registry prior to launch will be eligible to apply for Priority Allocation, regardless of the namespace they are registered in, including gov.au and edu.au.

The type of namespace does not impact the priority of the name, only the date of registration.

Some names will be reserved from registration for reasons including security or appropriate functioning of Government. Read more at question 24.  

8. What will the process be for applying for Priority Allocation and what are the cut-off dates and times?

For existing registrants, your registrar of record (that is, the registrar you have registered the domain name that forms the basis for your application with) should be in touch with you directly well before launch with information on how to apply for Priority Allocation.

You do not need to apply for Priority Allocation via the same registrar. To apply for Priority Status with a registrar different to the registrar of record you will need to provide a username and password (known as a priority-token) to prove you are the registrant of the name you are applying with. A dedicated web page to retrieve your priority-token (which is separate to your domain name password) will be made available prior to the launch of .au direct.

Key dates:

The six-month Priority Application Period starts on the commencement date and ends on the Priority Closing Date.

  • .au direct Commencement Date: 24 March 2022 at 00:00 UTC (11:00 AEDT)

  • Priority Closing Date: 20 September 2022, 23:59:59 UTC (9:59:59 AEST)

Priority Categories determine how a name is allocated in a small fraction of cases where more than one registrant may be eligible to apply for Priority Status for the same .au direct name.

  • Priority Category 1: Names with a creation date in the registry on or before the Priority Status cut-off date of 4 February 2018 23:59:59 UTC

  • Priority Category 2: Names with a creation date in the registry after the Priority Status cut-off date of 4 February 2018 23:59:59 UTC.

Find out more about the Priority Allocation here.

9. Will there be a tool to check:

a) The creation date of domains?

auDA does not publish the creation dates of domains to protect registrants from scams and renewal fraud by malicious actors. See ScamWatch advice here.

b) The priority status of my domain name?

A Priority Status Tool will be available on the auDA website from late October 2021 and will allow registrants to check the priority status of their domains. The tool will allow registrants to identify whether a name is in Priority Category 1 or Priority Category 2, and the order in which related names were created in the registry.

10. After the six-month Priority Application Period, who will be able to register .au direct names that have not been contested?

Once the Priority Application Period has concluded on 20 September 2022, uncontested names can be registered by any applicant who meets the eligibility criteria for .au direct.

11. If a Priority Category 1 applicant holds a com.au name, but the ABN used to meet eligibility criteria has expired, is the applicant still able to apply for the corresponding .au direct name?

To be eligible for Priority Allocation, you must hold your existing domain name in compliance with auDA’s licensing rules. Applicants must update their .au registrant eligibility information (Registrant Name, Registrant ID, Eligibility Type, Eligibility Name, and Eligibility ID) for their existing domain name in the .au registry prior to applying for the matching .au direct name. If your domain is not compliant, you will not be eligible to apply for Priority Allocation.

12. If other parties eligible to contest a name through the Priority Application Process decline to apply for the corresponding .au direct name, will the other eligible applicants be notified?

You will be able to use the Priority Status Tool to check the status of other possible applicants at any time. If other eligible parties decline to apply for the corresponding .au name, and your application is the only eligible application left, the name will be automatically allocated to you. Your registrar will advise you if the .au direct name has been allocated to you.

13. If a domain has been transferred between registrants, will the creation date be the date the domain was originally registered or the date of transfer?

The creation date remains the date a domain was originally created.

14. Did auDA consider revising the priority cut-off date considering it was originally determined in 2017?

auDA undertook extensive consultation on the cut-off date at the end of 2019, and a clear majority of the community supported keeping the cut-off date as 4 February 2018.

Based on this consultation, auDA considers the current cut-off date remains sound.  

15. How soon after applying for Priority Allocation on 24 March 2022, will I get my .au direct name?

From the Commencement Date of 24 March 2022, .au direct names will be allocated shortly after Priority has been determined:

  • Where there are no contested applicants, we expect the names will be recorded in the registry within 24 hours of launch

  • Where names are contested, we expect the name will be allocated within 24 hours of the contention being resolved.

16. Will expired .au direct names drop at auction as they do for com.au?

Yes.

Small business support

17. Will there be support for small businesses to help them understand .au direct?

auDA will be undertaking a broad-based marketing campaign to raise awareness of .au direct for the public. We will also continue to:

  • Post updated materials on our website and social media

  • Engage with business associations like the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) and chambers of commerce around Australia to inform their members of these changes and available resources

  • Speak at a range of forums about .au direct in the lead up to and after launch.

If you would like to stay informed, you can also join auDA’s free Associate Member program, here.

18. Why launch in the current economic environment [October 2021]?

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, auDA has seen a surge in com.au domain registrations by businesses, demonstrating how critical .au is to the Australian economy.

No one is required to take up .au direct. It is a choice for businesses and individuals to make after considering whether it is beneficial to them. We believe the new namespace   will be of interest to new and existing businesses and individuals as it:

  • Delivers a greater choice of online names in the trusted Australian domain

  • Allows users to register shorter, more memorable online names, facilitating greater consumer engagement

  • Provides names that are easier to type and display on mobile phones.

Registrars

19. Which registrars will I be able to register a .au direct name and do I need to apply through my existing registrar for Priority Allocation?

The majority of auDA accredited registrars are expected to offer .au direct.  

You may apply to register a .au direct name through any accredited registrar offering .au direct, it does not need to be your existing registrar. For more information see question 7.

20. Can I transfer my name between registrars if I’ve applied and am waiting for an outcome for Priority Allocation?

Yes.

21. Are registrars ready to process .au direct registrations?

auDA is working closely with registrars in the lead up to launch on 24 March 2022. Work to date includes increasing security standards, implementing better validation, more efficient complaint handling processes and the development of effective marketing materials.

Fees

22. What will the fee be to apply for .au direct and why is a fee required?

An application fee will be charged for Priority Applications in .au direct to cover processes to validate an applicant’s eligibility to apply for the corresponding .au direct name and contribute to registry operations.

The wholesale registration fee set by auDA for .au direct will be the same as existing wholesale fees for com.au, and the wholesale Priority Application fee will include one year of registration for successful applicants.

Consumer registration fees for .au names are set by registrars.

23. If a .au direct name is in contention and the matter is not resolved within the initial one-year registration period, is there a need to pay the application fee for a further year to keep the name in contention?

Yes. The fee is applied to validate the applicant’s eligibility annually and contributes to ongoing costs related to managing domains that remain in contention.

Compliance

24. How will auDA combat the potential rise in fraud as a result of a more open namespace?

The .au domain space is world-leading, with rates of DNS abuse well below global averages. These low rates are achieved by maintaining strict compliance and eligibility standards. The same standards of validation and eligibility verification will be required to confirm applicants are eligible to apply for a .au direct name.

25. Will auDA take steps to prevent misleading domains, such as cim.au, from being registered?

Yes. auDA reserves names under clause 2.6 of the licensing rules. The categories of reserved names include:

  • A word, acronym or abbreviation that is restricted or prohibited under an Australian law

  • A name or abbreviation of an Australian state or territory, including the word ‘Australia’

  • Names that may pose a risk to the security, stability and integrity of the .au and global Domain Name System

  • Names that are necessary for the proper administration of government

  • Names that are reserved for future use as second level domains.

26. Will the auDRP still apply if a trademark is infringed in .au direct?

Yes.