Home Resellers ACCC acts against domain registration companies

ACCC acts against domain registration companies

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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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.