auDA Release New Code of Conduct As Transparency Questions Continue

Posted in: Domain Names at 15/05/2017 15:07

The .au policy regulator, auDA, released a new code of conduct last week as questions of transparency continue to gnaw away at the organisation with a former long-term director launching a funding initiative to raise money for a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The Code of Conduct which was released to time with the current round of annual membership renewals includes some rather sensible points regarding supporting auDA's values that members are now required to agree to, such as engaging respectfully with other members, not harassing auDA staff, directors or members and not being defamatory or slanderous. But it also contains a fourth and final point for Members:

In any forum, including in the media, where acting as an auDA member or identifiable as an auDA member, I will conduct myself in a manner that will not bring the organisation, Directors or staff, into disrepute.

The arbiter of such a decision is the auDA Board who can temporarily suspend the member or revoke membership.

For 15 years the requirement of such a code hasn’t been deemed an issue. As a Board member a decade ago, your correspondent never heard murmurings of such a requirement. So why now?

The Australian ccTLD regulator, Board and organisation, are currently under fire for a unilateral move to bring in-house the registry operation currently conducted by AusRegistry, in clear breach of both its own constitution and Industry Advisory panels in 2008 and 2012, as previously reported. One wonders if the changes are coincidental?

For such a move regarding changes to registry operations to be legitimate the organisation should have called an Industry Panel, one of which is due to be held, to discuss future registry operations. However auDA management and key Board members have deemed they have no need to consult on the regulator/registry setup that has operated for 15 years. Their consultation announced after the move is an Industry Panel to only consult on how they will manage the registry in-house.

Additionally, transparency has gone out the window with Annual Reports deleted and since restored with no explanation and significant pieces of the organisation’s history deleted including previous Board members. Yes, your correspondent has been wiped from some of auDA’s history.

A Board member for over 14 years, Josh Rowe, has started a fundraising drive for a FOI request to restore the previously published board minutes, agenda and reports. The GoFundMe campaign seeks to raise $657 to obtain the deleted auDA documents from the Australian Government who is an observer on the auDA board.

No comment was sought for this article as auDA explicitly doesn’t answer media enquiries from industry blogs deeming them not part of the media.

 * Disclaimer: the writer was an auDA Board member (2005 to 2007), served on 3 auDA Names Policy Panels (2007, 2010 and 2015), was a client of auDA for 14 years and is now a client of AusRegistry proving online media monitoring services and contributing to the Behind the Dot magazine.


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