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auDA Publishes Public Notice On Restricted Domain Names

February 12, 2018

.au Domain Administration (auDA) last week published a public notice regarding the issue of domain names restricted under Australian law.

auDA is the policy authority and industry self-regulatory body responsible for the .au domain space.

Under its Reserved List Policy, a number of words, abbreviations and acronyms cannot be used in an Australian domain name - we mention some of them here.

auDA says it has published a revised Schedule in the Policy, but as was the case previously, this is still by no means exhaustive. The revised document was published due to some of the words previously not listed appearing in the recently published Registrant Policy Issues Paper.

"If a name appears on the Schedule, registrants should seek independent legal advice on appropriate action. auDA cannot provide legal advice," says the body; which will not provide advice on specific situations due to legislation being complex. Instead, independent expert legal advice should be sought.

auDA says it has placed a lock on domain names included in the list in Schedule A in order to prevent the transfer of these names to third parties. Registrants of these names will also find they are unable to renew them.

In order to transfer or renew an affected name, the registrant will need to provide relevant consent for its use to auDA (e.g. ANZAC requires the permission of the Minister for Veterans' Affairs), or be able to demonstrate the way the domain is being used means it should not be restricted. 

On the issue of new registrations, when these are submitted, a name is checked against the reserved list held in the Registry database - but only a domain name that exactly matches one on the reserved list is blocked from registration in all .au namespaces.

An additional issue is the Reserved List Policy only contains a list of 35 words restricted under Commonwealth legislation. 

"A search of the Australian Legal Information Institute database identified hundreds of words, phrases, acronyms and abbreviations whose use is restricted, and such restrictions may apply to the registration or use of the restricted term in a domain name," notes the Registrant Policy Issues Paper - and as such the database considered a "blunt tool".

An FAQ on the Reserved List Policy can be viewed here and Schedule A of the Reserved List Policy here.

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