On 12 April 2021 a new set of rules for the .au country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) comes into effect.
The new rules contain a range of changes which will apply to all registrants and relate to the terms and conditions for domains in the .au ccTLD and different aspects of how registrants manage their domain name licences.
When the new rules will apply
The new rules(with some exceptions) come into effect on 12 April 2021. All .au domain names created, transferred, or renewed on or after this date will be subject to the new licensing rules.
If your domain name licence expires after 12 April 2021 the rules in place at the time you registered or last renewed your domain name will apply until the end of the current licence period. If that name is renewed the new licensing rules will apply to it as the new licence is only created once the current one expires.
Changes to the rules affecting all registrants
Among the changes in the new licensing rules are some more general changes that apply to all registrants and how they use and manage their domain names.
Renting or leasing of domain names in the .au ccTLD
Under the new licensing rules, renting or leasing of domain names to a third party is prohibited. This helps ensure that the data in the WHOIS reflects who is really behind a particular domain name in the .au ccTLD.
The sole exception to this is where a name is registered for use by a related body corporate. You can read more about that here.
Renting or leasing of sub-domains
A sub-domain is a part of your domain that you can add before your registered domain name.
e.g. pw.auda.org.au is a subdomain of auda.org.au
Sub-domains are often used by companies to host different services or serve content to different audiences.
Registrants can create sub-domains as they need via their registrar, however they aren’t recorded in the registry.
Selling, renting or leasing sub-domains to third parties is prohibited under the new licensing rules.
By selling, renting or sub-leasing sub-domains, a user is effectively operating a private registry. This kind of activity can erode trust in the .au ccTLD as sub-domains are not recorded in the WHOIS and can allow people to use a domain name in the .au ccTLD when they otherwise wouldn’t be eligible.
They also present a risk to the third party using the rented/leased subdomain as they are dependent on the registrant of the parent domain. If the registrant of the parent domain forgets to renew their name and it is deleted, or transfers the name to another party there are no protections for the party paying to use the sub-domain.
Two days to restore a domain you’ve cancelled
You can cancel your domain name licence at any time. Under the new rules you now have two calendar days from when the name is cancelled by the registry operator to lodge a request via your registrar to restore it if you change your mind. Your registrar may charge a fee for this.
You must change your authorisation code after a transfer
An authorisation code is a password required to allow certain activities – like transferring a domain name.
As an added security measure, under the new rules if a domain name is transferred, its authcode must be updated within 48 hours of the transfer being completed. You have the option to change it yourself, otherwise it will be automatically changed by your registrar.
More time to fix minor policy breaches
Registrants will now have 30 days to fix minor policy breaches, a significant increase from the 12 days allowed under the previous rules.
Where a registrar or auDA finds a registrant has breached policy and the breach is not significant, the name domain licence will be suspended and the registrant will then have 30 days to fix the issue.
Suspended domain name licences won’t resolve to the DNS, so any websites or email services that use the domain name won’t work.
This 30 days commences once a registrar has completed an investigation or a complaints process to determine that a breach has occurred and is in addition to any time the registrar or auDA has taken to resolve an initial complaint or perform an audit.
Changed terms and conditions for .au domains
When you apply to register a .au domain name you agree to set of terms and conditions. These terms have been updated under the new licensing rules in a range of ways.
Part of the terms and conditions are a set of statements – known as warranties – that you are asserting to be true when you submit your application.
Under the new rules there are additional warranties in the terms and conditions:
• that the name is not deceptively similar to the name of a namespace in the .au ccTLD
• that the Person will not, and does not, use the licence for any purpose that is unlawful, illegal or fraudulent under Australia law
• the Person agrees that the use of the Licencing Service is solely at their own risk
You must be able to hold a contract
In the new rules we’ve clarified that to hold a domain name in the .au ccTLD you must have ‘contractual capacity’ - to be able to hold a licence.
For example - de-registered companies and the deceased are not able to hold a licence.
If you lose the capacity to hold a licence, your domain name will be considered cancelled 30 days from the contractual capacity is lost. This 30-day period recognises that there are circumstances where you can re-gain contractual capacity. Cancelled licences can’t be transferred or renewed.
Consent for collection, use and disclosure of licence information
Part of the terms and conditions for .au domain names is consent to the collection, use and disclosure of information provided in an application for a domain name.
Under the new rules the consent has been updated to include the use and disclosure of information by auDA for the purpose of data analytics on the registry data to inform policy development, registry management, and service delivery.
Data used for business purposes will only be available in aggregate form and individuals will not be identifiable.
The data consent complies with the relevant Australian Privacy Principles under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)