Consultation opens the door to closed 2LDs

Australia

Australian domain name administrator auDA has established a new Names Advisory Panel to evaluate proposals for the introduction of various new second-level domains (2LDs), including geographic 2LDs, in the '.au' country-code top-level domain. The panel has released two discussion papers in relation to these proposals, requesting comments from interested members of the public by September 27.

Most of the proposals relate to the introduction of 'closed' 2LDs, for example '.law.au', '.catholic.au' and '.biz.au'. If introduced, they will only be available to members of a particular group or profession. The panel has indicated that if such domains were introduced, it would adopt an "all or nothing" approach because it would be too difficult to decide which professions or community groups to exclude. Consequently, there is a risk that the floodgates will be thrown open for the introduction of a multitude of 2LDs, with every profession lobbying for its own.

The panel has expressed concern in response to the suggestion that '.biz.au' and '.info.au' be introduced as open domains, in line with their generic top-level domain counterparts. The panel feels that instead of widening the choices for registrants, these domain names would only be used defensively by parties who have already registered the same name in '.com.au' or '.net.au'.

The discussion paper on geographic 2LDs indicates that the panel strongly supports this proposal and is planning to recommend it. There is a particular emphasis on the creation of community-focused domains, but it has also been proposed that eligibility for registration of geographic 2LDs should be limited to the respective governments of each state and territory, or government bodies.

It is not yet clear whether the panel will recommend the introduction of a large number of new 2LDs as too many may confuse internet users and damage the efficacy of the domain name system.

Effie Markopoulos, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Sydney

Unlock unlimited access to all WTR content