ISPs slam reseller tactics

Domain name holders are warned to be on the look out for unsolicited renewal advice requesting registry keys, auDA said in a consumer alert.

Unsolicited renewal advice notices and "poaching" tactics from domain name resellers has stirred the regulatory body that governs the .au domain space to release a consumer alert. auDA has also referred complaints to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

In the alert, auDA urges consumers to be wary of requests for domain name registry keys - the password or pin number used to control access to the management of a domain name.

In a bid to combat pilfering practices, auDA recently instituted a renewal policy which involves domain name holders using a registry key to verify identity when changing resellers. For a reseller to transfer a domain from one registry to another, the registry key has to be obtained with the consent of the customer.

"Some companies are sending out unsolicited 'renewal advice' notices implying that the registry key is now required to renew your domain name. This is not correct," said auDA.

Chris Disspain, CEO at auDA would not divulge details of the companies referred to in the alert.

"They know who they are," he said.

auDA also issued a policy clarification, which states provisionally accredited domain name registrars must abide by the interim code of practice if they are to use their provisional accreditation in promotional material. The code of practice bans misleading renewal letters.

However, in an email discussion forum, ISP administrators vented their frustration in dealings with Internet Name Group (ING), which has allegedly been sending unsolicited renewal notices to domain name holders.

Computerworld has seen several ING letters advising the name holder that their domain name is about to expire and requesting authorisation for the registry key.

Complaints about ING letters centre around the 'misleading' way the group requests a registry key. ISP administrators and domain name resellers complain these letters imply to the customer that the registry keys are required to renew a domain name.

The ING letters include a permission form for domain name holders to fill out, requesting their registry key from Melbourne IT.

Mark Spektor, ING director said, ING offers the service to help registrants recover their registry key.

"If you randomly ring registrants, the majority don't know what their registry key is, how to get it and store it. The situation is registrants don't know where to start to get their keys, so we offer that service to provide it to the clients."

Spektor said ING don't keep the keys.

Spektor said ING don't currently abide by the code of conduct because it is "unworkable".

"auDA has to clarify several issues and I am currently writing, requesting for that to happen," he said.

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