Australia: Recent Developments: Administration of the .au domain

Last Updated: 22 July 1999


In December 1998 the ".au Working Group" (auWG) was set up at the request of the National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE), an office within the Commonwealth Department of Communications Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA). The working group was given the responsibility to develop, in consultation with the Internet community, an industry self-regulating organisation capable of taking over the delegation and administration for the .au domain space from the current delegate, Mr Robert Elz of Melbourne University.

The auWG was selected with the aim of ensuring a broad range of expertise and experience was represented. Organisations and sectors represented included the CSIRO, the AVCC, ADNA, the Internet Society of Australia, the Internet Industry Association, the Australian Telecommunications Users Group and the general community.


An Australian public company, limited by guarantee, named ".AU Domain Administration" (or "auDA") is to be used as the corporate vehicle for the administering body. The constitution of auDA (dated 12 April 1999) says in its preamble:

"Taking the view that the Internet domain name system is a pubic asset, and that the .au ccTLD [country code top level domain] is under the sovereign control of the Commonwealth of Australia, auDA will administer the .au ccTLD for the benefit of the Australian community."

On 19 April 1999 11 people were elected to form the interim board of the auDA that will, in accordance with the constitution, serve until the first auDA AGM at which a new board will be elected by auDA members. The first AGM is currently scheduled to take place in September 1999.

One of the main objectives of the auDA interim board is to obtain government endorsement for transition of authority for the .au domain space to auDA.


The following prerequisites to the transfer of responsibility for administration of the .au space to auDA were given:

  • it needs to be representative of users of the domain name services, suppliers of domain name services, users of the Internet and Internet industry associations;
  • it must be accountable to the Internet community in Australia and its officers must avoid conflicts of interest;
  • its processes must be open, transparent, timely, efficient and relevant; and
  • it is to be funded by members of the industry via fees (so the organisation must have the confidence and support of the Internet community).

In a letter to auDA in June 1999, NOIE stated that the formation of the auDA has the potential to meet the government's requirements for an administrative body but that further work needs to be done. Of major importance to NOIE were matters such as:

  • funding arrangements for auDA;
  • accountability of auDA boards to the Internet community, and
  • operational stability of the domain name system in Australia.


The constitution of auDA allows for the following classes of members:

  • Supply Class members (suppliers of Internet services);
  • Demand Class members (users of Internet Services), and
  • Representative Association Class members (representatives of Internet industry associations).

The constitution of auDA allows for a 14 member Board including three persons elected by the Supply Class members, 3 persons elected by the Demand Class members and three persons elected by the Representative Association Class members.


The constitution of auDA lists its principle purposes in section 3.1 as:

  • to be the administrator of, and the Australian self-regulatory policy body for the .au ccTLD and its associated second-level domains;
  • to maintain and promote the operational stability and utility of the .au ccTLD;
  • to ensure a cost-effective administration of the .au ccTLD and its sub-domains;
  • to develop and establish a policy framework for the development and administration of the .au ccTLD including rules governing:
    • the operation of second-level domain registries;
    • the creation of second-level domains;
    • the accreditation of registrars and registry administrators;
    • the registration of names within second-level domains and access to second-level domain registries;
    • the equal access of registrars to second-level registry services;
  • to manage the operation of critical technical functions including:
    • primary and secondary .au name servers;
    • zone files for second-level domains, and
    • a searchable database containing information on registrations within the .au ccTLD;
  • to liaise with national and international bodies on issues relating to the development and administration of domain name systems, and
  • to establish appropriate complaints handling and dispute resolution processes to provide for conciliation or redress of grievances on matters associated with the administration of the .au ccTLD.

Clause 3.2 of the Constitution states that auDA will enhance the benefits to Internet users through ensuring such things as operational stability, accountability, competition, fair trading, consumer protection transparency, timeliness and relevance.


The major second-level domains recognised by auDA are:

  • for commercial entities;
  • for companies that provide Network Services such as ISPs;
  • for educational institutions;
  • for government bodies;
  • for association and non-profit organisations (eg political parties, trade unions, sporting clubs etc);
  • for individuals;
  • for major information resources;
  • which is used as a gateway to the x.400 email service operated by Telstra Enhanced Services for companies that provide network services such as ISPs;
  • for the CSIRO;
  • for conferences and exhibitions (short-term registrations only), and
  • for miscellaneous bodies that do not fit within other second-level domains.


In its draft framework for domain delegation and licensing, auDA stated that it will licence, delegate or accredit (as appropriate) other organisations to perform functions such as policy development and registration services. These organisations must agree to certain performance and accountability requirements. auDA expects that those seeking licence or delegation to be substantive bodies (and with substantive communities of interest) operating at or near second-level domain status.

auDA does not itself wish to secure operational or management responsibilities beyond what it considers strictly necessary to discharge its supervisory responsibility.

Licences or delegations may be sought or granted at any of three levels: Policy; Registry; and Registrar.

auDA believes that it is important that the functions of each level are clearly separated and the interfaces transparent (but it does not necessarily require that a single body cannot be licensed or delegated or accredited for one or more of those purposes).


In an industry as fast and fluid as the booming Internet industry, the task of gaining and maintaining the confidence of a critical mass of the Internet community is a difficult one. This is especially the case in relation to domain names where deep philosophical divides separate various camps in relation to how domain space should be properly administered. Some feel that market forces should determine how domain space is allocated, while others favour a more controlled distribution based on social policy.

However, most in the industry would agree with the need for an overseeing body like auDA. To be a success, an appropriate representative balance will need to be struck in the first Board of auDA in order to achieve the support of the various Internet communities.

In one sense, this transfer of overall responsibility for administration of the .au domain space is simply a replacement of Robert Elz as the delegate with an industry representative body. We can expect that auDA will, however, be more active in administration of the .au domain. How this translates into practical changes for existing and potential registrants of domain names (especially those with registrations) remains to be seen.


This article provides a summary only of the subject matter covered, without the assumption of a duty of care by Freehill Hollingdale & Page. The summary is not intended to be nor should be relied on as a substitute for legal or other professional advice.

For further information please contact us.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions