Friday, 11 August 2017 10:02

ACCC acts against domain registration companies

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The competition watchdog has begun proceedings in the Federal Court in Perth against two domain registration companies, alleging they indulged in misleading and deceptive conduct in the way they represented to Australian businesses the services they offered.

Domain Name Corp and Domain Name Agency both have a single sole director, the ACCC said, alleging that he was involved in the deception. Domain Name Agency was also trading as Domain Name Register.

It said from November 2015 to at least April 2017, the companies dispatched about 300,000 unsolicited notices to businesses which are alleged to have looked like renewal notices for their domains.

But they were actually for registering a new domain name at a cost of anything from $249 to $275.

“The ACCC alleges that because these notices looked like they were renewal invoices, many businesses paid them thinking they were simply renewing the domain name for their business," ACCC deputy chair Dr Michael Schaper said.

He said the watchdog was alleging that the businesses were instead unwittingly signing up for a new domain name ending in either a .net.au or .com suffix that the business might not have needed or wanted.

“It is alleged that the notices sent out by the Domain Companies offered domain names that looked very similar to the business’s current domain name. This detail and the fine print disclaimer were easily missed.

“The ACCC believes that Australian businesses and organisations paid approximately $2.3 million to the Domain Companies as a result of receiving the notices.”

The watchdog is seeking declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, corrective advertising, disqualifying orders against the director and costs.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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