Priority registration for .au domains ends October 5 – after that date, anyone in the general public can purchase the shortened website addresses. So, with the deadline looming, I stole our CEO’s .au domain.
What’s going on with these domains?
Shortened .au domain names were first announced by .au Domain Administration Limited (auDA) in March. The idea was to enable “shorter, more memorable” domains better suited to mobile devices. They also align Australia with other countries that already have shorter domain options, like .nz and .ca.
Since then, priority access has been opened to applicants with a verifiable Australian presence to register their .au domains first. For example, if you have a business, it must be registered in Australia. According to AUDA websiteover four million .au sites have been registered to date.
A priority status system for domains is in place, and we have an explainer on how it works here.
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In August, Australia’s Small Business and Family Business Ombudsman, Bruce Billson, implored small businesses to register for the .au domain before the deadline to avoid identity theft, traffic theft and domain squatting.
“The consequences of not registering your existing business name within that time could be catastrophic for a business if a rival or someone else takes their name online,” Billson said.
“I implore all small business owners to take a few minutes to figure out if they want the shortened .au domain or if they’ll be upset that someone else has it.”
And he is not wrong. The registration rules for .au domains are much more relaxed than .com.au and .net.au, which require the buyer to be a business entity. It also has the potential to open the floodgates to bad actors.
Just last week, domain registrar Web Central sent out an email reminding businesses to register their .au domains. But like Searcher co-founder and COO Jeremy Cabral points out on Twitter this could be interpreted as encouraging domain squatting.
The email pointed to several important companies and government departments that had not yet secured the .au domain. This included Samsung, the ATO and Dick Smith.
See an email from a major domain registrar effectively encouraging domain squatting – please register your AU domains @SamsungFR @Tripadvisor @TheWiggles @eharmony_AU @DickSmith (CC @ruslankogan on the DickSmith estate) pic.twitter.com/79pvTDOY7c
— Jeremy Cabral (@jeremycabral) September 29, 2022
I have since tested these .au domains and they have been secure.
So I stole our CEO’s .au domain instead
Priority registration for .au domains has been open for over six months. But clearly not every Australian business or public figure has secured theirs yet. In fact, federal and state departments are even fighting over some.
So I decided to check out the .au record of Private Media CEO Will Hayward.
He was available. I knew what I had to do.
A cool $23.99 later and the domain was mine. Probably should have checked if I could spend that.
Initially, I had the idea of risking my work for the content because I worship chaos and find it funny. But more importantly, it’s a lesson for businesses and leaders to get their houses in order. The whole process took about three minutes and it was incredibly easy to do. And from October 5, it will be even easier when everyone can register.
In my defense, I’m not the only one engaging in a cheeky domain squat to make a point.
Identity startup co-founder Joseph Skewes Alien star cloud, also purchased the .au domains of several prominent Australians. Skewes clarified in a press release that it was “an exercise demonstrating the importance of protecting your personal brand”.
Some of the .au domains purchased by Skewes include obrecht.au (Canva co-founder Cliff Obrecht), mundine.au, (boxing world champion Anthony Mundine) and tarascio.au (billionaire real estate tycoon Sam Tarascio .
“The domains were purchased for the purpose of demonstration and would be returned to prominent Australians at cost, on request, before the end of the year,” Skewes said.
I don’t know if I feel that generous with our CEO’s estate. Maybe I’ll put it back on after I pass probation.
In the meantime, if you haven’t yet registered for your .au domain, register before someone else does.