Grumpy – The questions auDA dissidents won’t answer

By LAURIE PATTON | 6 June 2018

As I’ve previously written, auDA – the company managing Australia’s Internet domain names – is under attack from a group of dissident members known as the Grumpies. In an effort to shed some light on the issues at stake I recently posted answers to questions put to CEO Cameron Boardman. In the interest of fairness, I invited the other side to put their case. They have so far declined.

So, for the record, these are the questions to which I sought answers. The invitation to respond here remains open…

What, in essence, is wrong with auDA from your group’s point of view?

What outcomes do you see as essential for auDA to retain the support of the Government, given recent comments from Senator Fifield and the report from his department?

What do you say to claims that your group represents vested interests with a financial stake in the decisions made by auDA?

You have called for the CEO’s dismissal. Isn’t the board entitled to decide who runs auDA? And therefore, shouldn’t your demands properly relate only to the board?

The change in leadership at auDA has seen a number of staff members leave the organisation. Do you accept that it is the normal practice for a CEO to hire and fire and that in most cases a new CEO results in such staff movements?

The independent Policy Review Panel has been described by your group as “fatally flawed” and criticised on the basis of its small membership. What effect has this had on the running of auDA from your point of view?

It has been said that auDA’s Constitution is old and tired and needs to reflect current realities. The board says it is in the process of developing a new constitution. What changes would you like to see?

In response to claims directors are effectively muzzled from talking effectively and meaningfully to the members that voted for them Cameron Boardman argues they are merely observing normal corporations law requirements to not disclose confidential information without board approval. What is your response?

The auDA board has stated that it will not reconsider the direct registration issue until the second half of 2019, at the earliest. What is your response to this?

Over the past weekend the dissidents took to various online platforms to personally attack me, and others with whom they disagree. This is what I wrote to them in repsonse…

“Regarding the last 24 hours’ exchanges, after my time at Internet Australia I am pretty immune to the online slagging that seems to be endemic in the Internet industry. But, for the record, I have long believed auDA needs reform. Along with ICANN and the Internet Society, auDA has for too long provided people with vested interests a venue to promote themselves and push their personal agendas – not always in the best interests of the industry or the people who rely on it IMO.

What’s more, I am on the record and have been for some years as not supporting direct (domain name) registration. I remain open-minded and prepared to be convinced by reason and logic, but at this stage I do not see any great benefits in it for the general public.”

Presumably more personal attacks will be forthcoming. Hopefully, too, some responses to a set of quite reasonable questions!

(Laurie Patton is a member of auDA and the former CEO / Executive Director of Internet Australia. He is currently advising Afilias Australia, the company that took over the management of the .au registry for auDA from 1 July 2018. However, the views expressed here are his own and have not been endorsed by Afilias.)