Confusion reigns in the domain

Confusion reigns in the domain

After fighting for months against questionable domain renewal practices, domain name registrar NetRegistry has itself become a target of the latest renewal sting.

"I am sick and tired of our industry being plagued by scammers," said CEO Larry Bloch.

A separate company, Internet Registry, which trades as NetRegister, last week sent out tens of thousands of renewal notices to companies that are already registered with other organisations.

The practice has resulted in confusion for the companies, which are unsure who is to be trusted. Adelaide-based software retailer Berlin Wall Software Supermarket was one of the businesses targeted by NetRegister, even though the company is already registered with another provider.

"I rang them up and they quickly pointed to the second paragraph which states only if you paid the Internet Name Group (ING), but on the top of the letter it states my domain name as if my payment had not gone through," said proprietor Rob Beaumont. "There is a lot of confusion out there. I am really peeved at the snow jobs that are occurring to companies like mine."

Bloch believes NetRegister is purposely trading off NetRegistry's reputation. "What particularly annoys me is they are trading off the good name of NetRegistry with the name NetRegister," he said. "Before they updated their site, Internet Registry even made the mistake of promoting an ¬ĎAbout Us' section on the NetRegister Web site, on which the title headers was accidentally designed to read ¬ĎAbout NetRegistry'."

Authorised registrar Melbourne IT has also taken issue with NetRegister. It has warned its customers the NetRegister mailout contains inaccurate information. "We would like to reassure you that Melbourne IT continues to be your registrar and your domain name is safe and secure," it said in an e-mail to licence holders. "There is no need to respond to the notice from NetRegister."

But NetRegistry intends to take the matter further than that. "We will be taking action in the courts to protect our good standing," Bloch said.

A spokesman for NetRegister, who asked not to be named, said the company was unaware of any complaints from either NetRegistry or customers. He said the notice was intended for customers of the now-defunct ING and advises customers who are not registered with the group to disregard it. Nevertheless, the renewal was also sent to companies that had never been ING customers.

In July, industry watchdog Australian Domain Authority (auDA) forced Internet Registry to issue an apology for sending misleading notices to domain name customers. The company is no longer an authorised domain name reseller or registrar after new regulatory changes took effect on July 1.

Bloch is advising consumers to deal only with an authorised auDA registrar or reseller for domain name renewals and registrations.

"I hope the new auDA reseller and registrar terms and conditions put auDA in a strong position to make business for Internet Registry impossible," he said.

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