New rules for .au domain names are coming into effect on 12 April 2021.
The new rules contain some important changes that aim to increase trust and confidence in the .au domain – including to complaints and cancellations.
Why complaints and cancellations matter
The .au domain has strict eligibility and allocation requirements that help keep it a trusted asset for Internet users. Registrants must meet these requirements at the time of registration and continue to meet them throughout the licence period.
The new Licensing Framework introduces a robust complaints and cancellation process that:
• Ensures complaints are managed in a consistent, systematic and responsive manner
• Is transparent, accessible and effective
• Is committed to continuous improvement through the analysis, evaluation and auditing of complaints.
Complaints under the new rules
All names created, transferred, or renewing on or after 12 April 2021 will be subject to the new rules, including the new complaints and cancellations processes. Under the new rules:
1. Complaints are first made to the registrar
In licensing a domain name, a registrant enters into a contractual relationship with the registrar. Under the new rules, the registrar will be the first port of call for complaints about a domain name licence. Once a complaint is lodged with the registrar, you must follow the registrar’s complaints process. All registrars have 30 days to investigate a complaint.
If you do not know who the relevant registrar is, you can look up the name of the registrar in the WHOIS and then contact them to lodge your complaint.
2. Review of registrar decision by auDA
If you exhaust the registrar’s complaint procedures and remain dissatisfied, and your complaint relates to matters under auDA’s Licensing Rules, you can ask us to review the registrar’s decision (or their conduct) relating to your complaint. The impacted registrant can also escalate a complaint through the process if they are dissatisfied with the decisions made.
auDA will review the decision of a registrar on request and respond to you in writing. In some instances, auDA may refer the issue back to the registrar for reconsideration.
If you’re not happy with the decision made by auDA, you can then apply for an internal review of that decision by an auDA Senior Manager.
3. External review by the Licence Review Panel
If you exhaust auDA’s complaint procedures and remain dissatisfied, you can apply for an external review of auDA’s decision by the Licence Review Panel.
The Licence Review Panel provides an independent review of the decision made by auDA.
The members of the Licence Review Panel are appointed by the auDA Board based on their experience and qualifications. A list of Licence Review Panel members will be published on our website.
Cancellation and suspension timeframes
Where auDA becomes aware of an issue of non-compliance with the licensing rules, we will contact the relevant registrar and seek clarification and/or rectification of that issue.
Under the new rules, for certain non-compliance issues, a registrant will have 14 days to update their information after receiving a notice from their registrar. This applies to issues including those listed at section 2.16.4 of the rules, for example incomplete information provided at registration or renewal. After that period, domains may be suspended for 30 days.
During the period of suspension, a domain will not resolve in the domain name system (DNS), meaning that websites and email services will no longer be reachable using that domain name. This new 30-day suspension category allows the registrant time to address the issue of non-compliance, rather than having their licence cancelled (which would make it available to be registered by another eligible person).
Where the non-compliance issue is addressed within the 30-day time frame, the suspension will be lifted. However, if the registrant doesn’t address the non-compliance issue within the 30-day period, the domain licence will be put into a 14-day delete cycle. Unless the identified issue is resolved during this final 14-day period, the licence will be cancelled.
For more significant breaches, listed at section 2.16.10 of the rules, a registrant’s licence will be put directly into a 14-day delete cycle. These breaches include untrue or fraudulent information provided at the time of registration or registrants that are ineligible to hold the licence (e.g. a commercial entity holding an org.au licence).
This provides auDA a robust process to take effective, proportionate action against breaches to promote compliance with the .au rules and keep the .au domain trusted and secure.
When do these changes come into effect?
The new rules commence on 12 April 2021 10:00AM AEST (0:00 UTC) for all names created, transferred, or renewing on or after this date. The existing rules will continue to apply to names created before this date, until the end of the licence period.