Only four weeks to pre-register for .au domains
Small businesses have four weeks to register a new.au domain name before those URLs become available to the general public, according to Australia’s domain name authority, just days after industry groups criticised the scheme’s “hurried” implementation.
Businesses have been able to pre-register for new.au domain names since March of this year, providing an alternative to their existing ‘.com.au’, ‘.net.au’, or ‘.org.au’ URLs.
The Australian Domain Authority (auDA), which oversees the.au domain name licensing scheme, reminded businesses this week that they can pre-register for.au domains that match their existing URLs until September 20, 2022.
Anyone will be able to use.au URLs that have not been pre-registered as of October 3.
In theory, this means that anyone with no ties to a business could soon register a URL with the company’s name and the.au extension.
According to auDA CEO Rosemary Sinclair, the.au initiative has generated a lot of interest so far.
“auDA is delighted by the strong response to.au direct from priority applicants,” she stated this week in a statement.
“In the first 24 hours, we received over 35,000 registrations, nearly 80,000 registrations in the first week, and over 200,000 registrations to date.”
On Tuesday, auDA hosted a webinar to discuss the potential benefits of switching to .au URL.
However, with over 2 million registered small businesses in Australia, many of which operate websites, the small business community is concerned.
Before businesses are even aware of the change, au pre-registration will be closed.
Last week, Alexi Boyd, CEO of the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA), stated that bad actors could impersonate small businesses online by stealing their.au domain names.
“We are concerned that if priority registration is not extended, cybercriminals will be able to purchase.au domain names and set up’shell sites’ or ‘ghost sites’ impersonating legitimate businesses, potentially using online booking forms to gather information and/or money from the business’s clients,” she said.
COSBOA is also concerned that members of the public will soon be able to obtain.au URLs and effectively hold them for ransom, forcing businesses to pay compensation for.au URLs that match their names.
While COSBOA supports the.au initiative, it believes its implementation should be delayed for another year.
Bruce Billson, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO), who already acts as a mediator between businesses over URL disputes, has previously warned of “catastrophic” risks for businesses that do not act now.
Billson, like COSBOA, has asked auDA to delay its timeline by 12 months.
“The auDA denied my request to extend the direct match priority allocation period for small businesses with existing domain names beyond September 20, so all I can do is make sure small and family businesses are not caught off guard when it comes to the shortened.au domain name,” he explained.
Billson also described the public awareness campaign surrounding the.au implementation as “less than impactful,” and expressed concern that “major consequences of the.au introduction have not been adequately explained by auDA.”
Businesses interested in registering for.au priority status can do so here.