auDA CEO Chris Disspain has hit out at comments made about the organisation's relationship with Melbourne IT after Primus Telecom's John Dowell expressed concerns that auDA was stalling the breaking up of Melbourne IT's .com.au monopoly.
Dowell expressed his disappointment and disbelief earlier this week in how long it was taking for auDA to come up with a policy over the domain space and pledged to cut the price of domain names in half as soon as the monopoly was broken.
Disspain released a statement claiming Dowell's comments were both "ill-informed" and "self-serving nonsense".
"To suggest that we are some kind of quasi-government body in the business of protecting Melbourne IT shows a fundamental lack of understanding of auDA and its processes and procedures," said Disspain. He told ARN the organisation was doing its best to ensure the public understands the processes it is undertaking to introduce competition and is urging the Internet community to be patient.
Dowell, on the other hand, is keen to see the monopoly removed as soon as possible.
"I don't appreciate the accusation I'm ill-informed," he said. "I'm very well versed in what is going on. To say I'm ill informed is rubbish. He [Disspain] needs to get his facts right."
Dowell believes auDA reacted so strongly because it believes, as an "independent" organisation, it is beyond reproach. While he tries not to criticise Melbourne IT, his previous employer, he is concerned over the company statements suggesting it has purchased the exclusive right to administer the com.au domain for the next 12 months. It is also funding the operation of auDA for the next twelve months.
Melbourne IT's statement to its shareholders on the 12th of July, 2000, makes this point clear.
"Melbourne IT today signed an agreement with auDA providing up to $659,000 towards its 2000/01 budget and further amounts in subsequent financial years. This funding represents approximately 80 per cent of auDA's budget. In return auDA agrees that it will not issue any licenses for registration of com.au names in competition with Melbourne IT until the introduction of auDA's proposed model for the development of competition in the domain name registration industry, likely to occur on auDA's current timetable on or after Melbourne IT's current license expires in early October 2001. This will preserve Melbourne IT's position as sole com.au registrar until that time."
"I am asking auDA to make it transparent what exactly is going on," said Dowell. "I'm asking them to get on with it. If these guys aren't capable of introducing competition, give the industry someone who is."
Disspain denies the conflict of interest in auDA's and Melbourne IT's relationship. He believes the time delay is necessary to examine which model best suits competition in the domain registration space.
"It's not a cosy relationship," he said. "It's commercial, but certainly not cosy."
Disspain suggests the monopoly must continue through auDA's current public consultation period as "stability is essential". Dowell believes this argument makes no sense.
"What do they mean by providing stability?" he said. "What's so difficult about having several registries, that's how the ICANN model works."
"Show me one person, even a person without my interests, an end user or a reseller or anyone else in the Internet industry, who wants the monopoly to continue," he added.