Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

Fight breaks out as Afilias eats Neustar’s Aussie baby

Kevin Murphy, July 3, 2018, 15:13:07 (UTC), Domain Registries

The transition of .au to Afilias’ registry platform over the weekend seems to have gone quite smoothly, but that hasn’t stopped Neustar and a former key executive from lashing back at what it says are the gaining company’s “misinformed” statements.
The war of words, which has got quite nasty, came as Afilias transferred all 3.1 million .au domains to its control, after 16 years with the former incumbent.
Neustar, which hadn’t said much about losing one of its most-lucrative TLD contracts, on Friday published a lengthy blog post in which it said it wanted to “set the record straight” about Afilias’ statements leading up to the switch.
Afilias, in a series of blog posts and press releases since it won the .au contract, has been bigging up its technical capabilities.
While it’s not directly criticized Neustar and predecessor AusRegistry (which Neustar acquired for $87 million), the implication of many of these statements is that Neustar was, by comparison, a bit shit.
In Neustar’s latest post, Aussie VP George Pongas takes issue with several of these claims.
Any implications that the company did not offer 24/7 registrar support were incorrect, he wrote. Likewise, the idea that it did not have a DNS node in Western Australia was not true, he wrote.
He also took issue with claims that Afilias would offer improved security and a broader feature set for registrars, writing:

We’ve raised a number of concerns directly with auDA about what we considered to be inaccurate remarks comparing Neustar’s systems with the new Registry and implying that the new Registry will include “all previous functionality plus enhanced security and authentication measures”, as stated in recent auDA Member communications. We questioned auDA about this and were informed that the statement is comparing the various testing phases of Afilias’ Registry – so the latest version has “all previous functionality” of the earlier versions. It doesn’t mean the Registry will have “all previous functionality” of Neustar’s platform – which we believe the statement implies. It is a fact that a number of the proprietary features and services that Neustar currently provides to Registrars will no longer be available under the new Registry system, and thus Registrars will likely notice a difference.

“We stand by our statements,” an Afilias spokesperson told DI today.
While Neustar’s corporate stance was fairly reserved, former AusRegistry boss Adrian Kinderis, never a shrinking violet, has been reacting in an almost presidential fashion, using Twitter to describe auDA CEO Cameron Boardman as “incompetent”, criticizing a reporter, and using the hashtag #crookedcameron.

Kinderis, who headed up AusRegistry for the whole of its 16-year run with .au, left Neustar in April, three years after the acquisition. He’s now running something called MadBarry Enterprises and is still associated with the new gTLD .film.
He reckons Neustar lost the .au contract purely for financial reasons.
While Neustar is believed to have lowered its registry fee expectations when pitching to continue as the back end, auDA will save itself about AUD 9 million a year ($7 million) under Afilias, compared to the old regime.
auDA is not expected to hand this saving on to registrars and registrants, though I hear registrars have been offered marketing rebates recently.
auDA has previously told us that Afilias scored highest on the technical evaluation of the nine bidders, and that it was not the bidder with the lowest fee.
Kinderis is also of the opinion that Afilias is among those helping auDA stack its membership with compliant stooges.
Last month, auDA announced a dramatic four-fold increase in its membership — getting 955 new membership applications in just a month.
auDA thanked Afilias for this growth in membership, alongside three of the largest .au registrars: Ventra IP, Arq Group (formerly Melbourne IT), and CrazyDomains owner Dreamscape Networks.
An Afilias spokesperson said that the company had offered its staff the option to become auDA members and about half — I estimate at roughly 150 people based on Afilias’ previously published headcounts — had taken it up on the offer.
It sounds rather like Afilias footed the AUD 22 per-person “Demand-class” membership application fees.
The rapid increase in membership at auDA has raised eyebrows in the .au community, with some accusing the registry of “branch stacking”.
That’s an Australian term used to describe the practice of signing up large numbers of members of a local branch of a political party in order to swing important votes.
The 955-plus new members will not be approved in time to influence the outcome of the vote to oust the auDA chair and others later this month.
But they will have voting rights by the time auDA’s annual general meeting comes around later this year. The AGM is when auDA will attempt to reform itself in light of a harsh government review of its practices.
As for the migration to Afilias itself, it seems to have gone relatively smoothly. I’m not aware of any reports of any serious technical issues, despite the fact that it was the largest TLD migration ever.
Some members have pointed out that most of .au’s ops are now off-shore, and old auDA Whois service is now hosted on a .ltd domain (hey, somebody’s got to use it) which is itself protected by Whois privacy.
I also noticed that the auDA web site, which used to have a hook into the registry that published an updated domain count every day, is no longer working.

Tagged: , , , , , ,

Comments (11)

  1. Snoopy says:

    I suspect the service quality is exactly the same but auDA is attempting to spin this as an improvement.
    This was supposed to be about reducing registration costs to Australian consumers and that has not happened with auDA taking almost all of the cost savings for themselves.
    It has got to the point where most of the wholesale cost of a registration is the numerous fees that auDA charge.

  2. Good job Kevin. auDA won’t need the extra votes at the SGM. They have managed to sway Registrars who have legitimate memberships with marketing (cash?) incentives and the rebates you bring up in your article. Once they get through the SGM the AGM will be a dawdle (with the votes Afilias’ et al) and they will finally have the control they seek…
    What about Afilias putting on their blog post that the reason they were signing up was “to receive the auDA newsletter”??? Please, it isn’t that good a read…That is well worth the $22 there! bahaha!
    Cameron often asked us to make sure we had votes to help out. He also asked me to help publically support him and the Board at the last SGM as it “would be a good time to look supportive in front of the Board” inferring it would help our bid chances. If anyone remembers the SGM I was actually quite vocal in my support of auDA as a result… it hurt like hell at the time and I regret it now… I should have known better than to accept a pat on the head and a wink.

    • Laurie Patton says:

      Seems tt me Adrian that you were a tad less than transparent at the SGM if you supported auDA in the hope of keeing your job.

  3. “Perhaps the most revealing and for me the most disturbing aspect of this somewhat fetid saga is that nobody can tell me what, exactly, is wrong with the current processes by which people acquire a domain name. Nobody! It seems to me that what we are dealing with here is a battle for board control overlayed with a matrix of long-standing interpersonal grievances. No wonder the Communications department concluded that auDA is not currently fit for purpose. However, it strains credulity to suggest that this situation has only recently developed.”

    • Snoopy says:

      Mr Patton is paid Afilias (and hence auDA) promoter.

      • Laurie Patton says:

        My involvement in this issue is well known and all my articles are available here: The facts speak for themselves and that’s fine by me. Oh, and at least I use my real name. I am not a keyboard coward.

        • Snoopy says:

          Mr Patton, you are wasting your time trying to pretend it is your own thoughts when you are being paid to promote Afilias and auDA.
          Your commentary is no way sincere, it is simply “advertising” for the people you work for.
          Did 1 Collins St phone you and tell you to jump on this thread and criticise Mr Kinderis?

          • Laurie Patton says:

            I’ll take Snoopy’s comments seriously when he/she stops hiding behind anonymity. No time for keyboard cowards.

          • Snoopy says:

            Mr Patton,
            Perhaps you would like to tell us what Afilias are paying you and what exactly your stated role with them is? Is it to attack Kinderis on blogs?
            Is auDA paying you as well or is it done through Afilias only?

  4. Laurie Patton says:

    My involvement in this issue is well known and all my articles are available here: The facts speak for themselves and that’s fine by me. Oh, and at least I use my real name. I am not a keyboard coward.

  5. James says:

    There were quite a few problems with the transition, check out this whirlpool thread:
    In short, worse TLD nameserver performance, dropping was delayed for two weeks, availability check was unavailable for two weeks, domain password reset is still only available by phone (despite the specifications requiring email recovery).

Add Your Comment