Do you have a .com.au domain name or similar for your website? If so, are you aware of the Media Release by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (“ASBFEO”)? It alerts small business owners of an upcoming change to those with an Australian second-level (namespace) domain. These are the categories appearing before the country code .au and include .com, .net, .asn, .org, biz, etc.
If you have one of these .au domain names, anyone including a competitor can register a new shortened version of your domain name that simply ends in .au. For example, if you have mybusinessname.com.au, someone can register mybusinessname.au. Existing holders of a namespace domain have priority access for a shortened registration until September 20.
The Australian Domain Authority (“auDA”) introduced this ability for a .au domain name on 24 March. The entitlement requirement is simply anyone with an Australian connection or presence. There has been little media coverage to date on this and domain name holders haven’t been individually contacted. The ASBFEO is now urging businesses to register for your shortened name before someone takes it. The auDA rejected the ASBFEO’s request to extend the deadline.
The ASBFEO, Bruce Billson, states the auDA’s action is “like cutting a second set of keys to your front door and selling them to a rival, a stranger who tries to sell them back to you at a higher price or a criminal who uses them to rip off your customers. After this date, anyone can purchase the domain name and begin stealing traffic, impersonating the original site, or demand dollars”. Note – your .com.au or similar domain name will still be valid.
Contact your ISP or your current domain supplier for more information but be very mindful of that 20 September deadline.