Aussies will soon be able to fly their digital patriotism high with the launch of new ‘.au’ web addresses that do away with the familiar ‘.com.au’ domains.
auDA, the organisation that manages Australian domains have launched the new product, which is available to register from Thursday, March 24, after years of consultation.
Instead of registering, for example, thelatch.com.au, the shorter and punchier www.thelatch.au will now be available to anyone and everyone who wants it. Which reminds us, we should probably grab that one.
Domain names ending in .au will only be able to be registered with auDA if the person or organisation registering it can demonstrate that they have a connection with Australia.
This means proving that you have a “verifiable Australian presence,” like being an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or having an Australian business number.
This is unlike .com addresses, which are managed by the American Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Because the rules around .com registrations are far more relaxed, there exists a whole subgroup of people and businesses that are established to register any and every domain name you can think of, squatting the address until someone comes along and tries to buy it. These people will then sell those domains to the people who want to own them for massively inflated prices.
auDA have said that anyone who already holds a registration in another domain format (like .com.au) will be able to apply for priority access to match the newly opened .au address equivalent for the first six months after launch.
From 24 March 2022, you’ll be able to register these new .au website names. The names will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. A number of pre-approved domain registers have been licenced to sign those up who want the new addresses and a complete list of those registrars can be found here.
There are, of course, a number of restricted .au domain names that have been reserved for official uses. Things like olympics.au will not be available to register in order to cut down on domain squatting by unscrupulous parties.
This new land-grab will undoubtedly cause brand disputes and trademark issues as competing brands and organisations sharing the same name seek to acquire the .au address of their business. adDA has an application and appeals process which can sort these disputes but it’s likely to be a protracted process that has the potential to cause some headaches.