New rules for .au domain names are coming into effect on 12 April 2021.
The new rules contain changes related to sub-domains to help keep the .au country code top level domain (.au domain) Australian and trusted.
What is a sub-domain?
A sub-domain is part of a domain that you can add before your registered domain name.
For example, pw.auda.org.au is a subdomain of auda.org.au.
Registrants can create sub-domains as they need them (usually via their DNS service provider) and they are often used to deliver specific online services or serve content for a particular audience.
New rules for .au sub-domains
While useful, sub-domains can (and have) been used in ways that pose risks to Internet users such as phishing attacks and fraud.
To help address such risks, we have included changes in the new rules that help protect Internet users from the misuse of sub-domains, including how sub-domains can be used and what actions auDA can take when the rules are breached.
Keeping .au local and trusted
The new rules set out appropriate – and inappropriate – uses of sub-domains that registrants must adhere to.
Firstly, anyone using a sub-domain must meet the Australian presence and eligibility requirements that apply to the parent .au domain name licence.
Secondly, leasing and selling of sub-domains of a .au domain is not allowed.
These rules support auDA’s responsibility to help maintain a trusted and secure .au domain by ensuring the rules that apply to .au domain names extend to sub-domains.
They also allow us to better protect potential sub-domain lessees or buyers from mistakenly believing they are the licence holder for their domain name. A sub-domain lessee or buyer is subject to the whims of the registrant of the parent domain who can cancel or transfer the parent domain without warning, forget to renew it, or have it suspended or cancelled by auDA – which can have far-reaching impacts such as financial losses or reputational harm.
Ensuring auDA can respond effectively to issues with sub-domains
For our licensing rules to be effective, it’s important they allow us to take appropriate action when there are breaches.
The new licensing rules are clear that registrants are responsible for all sub-domains associated with their parent .au domain and that sub-domains must comply with the licensing rules.
This is a change from the old rules, which were silent on this issue and means auDA can take action against a registrant if a sub-domain is found to be in breach of the rules.
While most sub-domains don’t appear in the WHOIS, we can take action when we receive reports of non-compliant sub-domains.
Under the new rules, when we receive complaints against a .au sub-domain, a registrar or auDA will ask the registrant to fix any issues in the first instance. If the registrant doesn’t rectify the issues, auDA can suspend the parent domain name until the issues are addressed.
Together, the clear rules governing .au sub-domains and auDA’s ability to take action against the parent .au domain name when non-compliant sub-domains are detected will help us promote compliance with our rules, which are in place to keep the .au domain secure.
The new rules for the .au domain come into effect on 12 April 2021.
To find out more about the changes, you can visit our dedicated website section and here on the .au Blog.