auDA Membership Irregularities

Scott Long made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Communications and the Arts

The request was refused by Department of Communications and the Arts.

From: Scott Long

Delivered

Dear Department of Communications and the Arts, (DoCA)

This request relates to .au Domain Administration Ltd (auDA).

The purpose of this request;

To ascertain whether the approval of 955 Supply Related applicants for Demand Class membership were conducted in accordance with the Company Constitution, and the Corporations Act 2001; and auDA’s established Membership Policy (vetting of members).

The Commonwealth formally endorsed auDA as the appropriate body to administer the .au domain space. The Government holds reserve powers in relation to domain names under the Telecommunications Act 1997

auDA is currently under Review by the Department of Communications and the Arts;

From the Minister’s letter

[Quote]

“Consistent with the review, and to ensure that reform initiatives remain on track, I also ask that auDA commence quarterly reporting to the Department. This should be provided at face to-face meetings with the Department, with the first meeting to be held in June 2018. A high level timeline outlining implementation and reporting milestones is attached (Attachment C).”

[End Quote]

[Quote]

The new Terms of Endorsement:

Engagement with the Australian Government

In providing its endorsement for an entity to administer what is a public asset, the Government has a strong interest in the management of Australia’s ccTLD.
Conditions:

That the .au domain administrator:

- provide quarterly updates on performance and work priorities to the Department

- acknowledge that the Government reserves the right to independently review auDA’s reporting and reporting processes at any time

- ensure that a senior officer from the Department is included in all relevant auDA governance processes, including, but not limited to, non-voting observer status at board meetings for all decisions

[End Quote]

1. Audit Request.

As a stakeholder and Member of auDA, I ask that the Department of Communication and the Arts perform an audit of each applicant admitted as an auDA Member on the 18th June 2018.

(a) Applications for Membership require the applicable membership fee and entrance fee from the applicant 7 days prior to the next Board meeting convened. The Board approving the application name, address and email of the Legal Person being entered in the appropriate Class of Membership. As per auDA’s online membership application form and 9.7, 9.8, 9.9, of the Company Constitution.

One of the tools available to the Public in understanding reasons behind Board decisions are the Board Minutes. These Minutes should provide some details about whether the Directors of auDA followed proper (existing) procedures and protocols.

According to the minutes of 12th December 2016 Cameron Boardman CEO questioned PayPal transactions for membership. Out of this discussion, the Board adopted a vetting protocol and a policy was formed to verify applications for membership.

auDA: Board Meeting – 12th December 2016

(9.b.) As noted in the 12th December 2016 Board Minutes, Cameron Boardman
(auDA CEO) was concerned about Applicant transactions via PayPal. The CEO
investigated these transactions.

A motion was carried by the Board, to validate (follow up phone call) each applicant as ‘real people’ with knowledge of auDA’s purpose and activities (SECT 3 Company Constitution. )

[Quote]

auDA applicant Vetting protocol.

 a 'real' person; and
 they have some knowledge of auDA's purpose and activities.

[End Quote]

Previous Board decisions on Membership applications:

auDA: Board Minutes – 13th February 2017
auDA: Board Minutes – 21st August 2017
auDA: Board Minutes – 26th September 2017
auDA: Board Minutes – 23rd October 2017
auDA: Board Minutes – 13 February 2018
auDA: Board Minutes – 26th March 2018
auDA: Board Minutes – 23rd May 2018

As noted in the Board Minutes 12th December 2016, auDA consistently vetted applicants by contacting applicants (phone call) to verify them as ‘Real People’ and, having knowledge of auDA. However, on the 18th June 2018, auDA announced;

[Quote]

auDA has attracted a record 955 new members this month in response to the Federal Government’s Review of the .au namespace.

[End Quote]

Membership quadrupled overnight;

In light of this recent decision, if the directors are motivated by a desire to relegate a majority interest into a minority power by stacking the Demand Class Side via Supply Side employees it will be held to be an improper power.

2. Did auDA send due notice to the Department to attend this Board meeting?

As per 19.8 of the Company Constitution and as noted in the Department of
Communications review of auDA;

 ensure that a senior officer from the Department is included in all relevant auDA
governance processes, including, but not limited to, non-voting observer status at
board meetings for all decisions

3. Vetting Applications

Irregularities between the known and accepted way of vetting applications and the inter-relationship of the corporate entities entering into this transaction gives rise to the following requests;

auDA: Board Minutes – 18th June 2018

4. Did the applicant consent to becoming a member in their own capacity as individuals?

a. Provide record of consent from each applicant in their own capacity.

Include, not limited to;

i. Agreement to the terms of the Company Constitution,
ii. Signature of applicant,
iii. Receipt of Payment.

b. Provide transaction record(s) from each applicant in their own capacity.

Include, not limited to;

i. Transaction type;
ii. Transaction amount;
iii. Date of transaction.
iv. Individually paid by each applicant or;
v. Group paid on behalf of applicant(s) or;
vi. Payment not required.

c. Provide record of each applicant(s) verification.

Include, not limited to;

i. Name of applicant
ii. Resident Address,
iii. Phone contact
iv. Email
v. Having knowledge of auDA, its purpose and activities.
vi. Supply related
vii. Not Supply related

[NOTE: The following request for information is not to obtain private information about each application; the request is only a "tick box" yes/no request - For your convenience, I have prepared ANNEX (A) and ANNEX (B) in accord with my requests.]

4. Did auDA perform the vetting of each and every membership application? If not,
who did?

5. As noted in all previously published minutes since 2001 , the Board practice of
publishing the names of each member approved by the Board ceased at the
announcement of 955 new members. The practice of publishing the names of
each new member in the minutes permitted the public to see that the new
members were indeed, approved by the Directors of the Board.

a. as recorded in the Board Minutes, please provide a copy of Appendix 1,
recording each applicant name approved by the Board on 18th June 2018

6. Constitutional provision and requirements – auDA Constitution

 9 MEMBERS
 10 REGISTER OF MEMBERS
 11 RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF MEMBERS
 12 MEMBERSHIP FEES
 13 CESSATION OF MEMBERSHIP
 1.2 Definitions

Board Processing requirements, vetting and policy. - auDA Website

 Board minutes
 Membership Application
 Membership Payment
 Membership list

Current dispute regarding Constitutional interpretation of 9.4 and 9.5 respectively;

 auDA Chair's letter to Scott Long

In the circumstances of this situation, it would appear that the parties may have deliberately chosen to enter into an agreement, which could result in an unreasonable outcome for existing members of auDA.

The nature of the transaction between the parties seems inconsistent with the traditional view of entering applications for membership. The transaction itself raises questions about its legitimacy at a time when auDA is undertaking reform objectives set by the Department of Communications and the Arts.

Accordingly, I request the Department of Communications and the Arts to please provide me with the transaction and interaction record involving the approval of membership applications by the Directors of auDA referred to in the Minutes dated June 18th 2018.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Long

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Scott Long left an annotation ()

Rules are to be followed.

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From: FOI
Department of Communications and the Arts

UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Scott

Thank you for your email. Please note that it is not necessary to submit arguments in support of your request for documents and your inclusion of these makes it difficult for us to understand exactly what you want. However, my understanding is that your request for documents is limited to the final sentence:

"Accordingly, I request the Department of Communications and the Arts to please provide me with the transaction and interaction record involving the approval of membership applications by the Directors of auDA referred to in the Minutes dated June 18th 2018."

We will process your request with this understanding but if this is incorrect please respond to clarify your request. The guidance on Right to Know under 'Why must I keep my request focussed' might be helpful: https://www.righttoknow.org.au/help/requ...

Regards

Melissa

Department of Communications and the Arts
[Department of Communications and the Arts request email]

2 Phillip Law Street, Canberra ACT 2601
GPO Box 2154 Canberra, ACT 2601

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From: Scott Long

Delivered

Dear FOI,

Please feel free to redact any comment that you believe is not relevant to my request or any comment that you may consider an argument in support for my request.

My request for information is only relevant to the processing of 955 Applicants approved by the Board on 18th June 2018.

my request as follows;

1. Audit Request.

I ask that the Department of Communication and the Arts perform an audit of each applicant admitted as an auDA Member on the 18th June 2018.

2. Please provide any document of correspondence from auDA to DOCA advising due notice of the auDA Board meeting held on the 18th June 2018

Vetting Applications

Request is not for personal information, I only require a Tick box assessment and where applicable any amount or date as required;

3. Did the applicant consent to becoming a member in their own capacity as individuals?

a. Provide record of consent from each applicant in their own capacity.

Include, not limited to;

i. Agreement to the terms of the Company Constitution,
ii. Signature of applicant,
iii. Receipt of Payment.

b. Provide transaction record(s) from each applicant in their own capacity.

Include, not limited to;

i. Transaction type;
ii. Transaction amount;
iii. Date of transaction.
iv. Individually paid by each applicant or;
v. Group paid on behalf of applicant(s) or;
vi. Payment not required.

c. Provide record of each applicant(s) verification.

Include, not limited to;

i. Name of applicant
ii. Resident Address,
iii. Phone contact
iv. Email
v. Having knowledge of auDA, its purpose and activities.
vi. Supply related
vii. Not Supply related

4. Did auDA perform the vetting of each and every membership application? If not,
who did?

Please provide documents related to any 3rd party who may have vetted applicants.

5. As noted in all previously published minutes since 2001 , the Board practice of
publishing the names of each member approved by the Board ceased at the
announcement of 955 new members. The practice of publishing the names of
each new member in the minutes permitted the public to see that the new
members were indeed, approved by the Directors of the Board.

a. please provide a copy of Appendix 1 (as recorded in the minutes), listing each applicant name approved by the Board on 18th June 2018

Yours sincerely,

Scott Long

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From: FOI
Department of Communications and the Arts

UNCLASSIFIED

Hi Scott

Thank you for your email. You can only ask for existing documents under the FOI Act, you are not able to ask the department to do audits or assessments or anything similar. The below is different from your first email as your first email did not seem to indicate that you wanted this volume of documents. As such it is too difficult for us to work out what you want at this stage. Can you please resubmit your request for documents only.

Melissa

Department of Communications and the Arts
[Department of Communications and the Arts request email]

2 Phillip Law Street, Canberra ACT 2601
GPO Box 2154 Canberra, ACT 2601

communications.gov.au / @CommsAu
arts.gov.au / @artsculturegov

I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which we meet, work and live. I recognise and respect their continuing connection to the land, waters and communities. I pay my respect to Elders past and present and to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

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From: Scott Long

Delivered

Hi Melissa,

I would expect the Department of Communications and the Arts (DOCA) would have the capacity to fulfil the objectives of its own Review of auDA.

As stated in the Departments Review of auDA.

See link here:
https://www.communications.gov.au/depart...

[Quote]

auDA Review

• acknowledge that the Government reserves the right to independently review auDA’s reporting and reporting processes at any time

• establish an effective process for assessing and processing new members.

Note: The Department (DOCA) has full authority to conduct and verify the information requested in this FOI request.

[End Quote]

[Quote]

The Department of Communications and the Arts (DOCA) Public responsibility to oversee and verify auDA’s procedural process for assessing new members are admitted according to its constitution, Corporations Act and Membership Application Policy are aligned to my FOI request;

As per my initial request;

1. (a) Applications for Membership require the applicable membership fee and entrance fee from the applicant 7 days prior to the next Board meeting convened. The Board approving the application name, address and email of the Legal Person being entered in the appropriate Class of Membership. As per 9.7, 9.8, 9.9, of the Company Constitution

Please provide;

The reporting and verification undertaken by DOCA in relation to the processing of applications entered as members on the 18th June 2018.

This may include;

• Redacted auDA Bank statement (transaction listing) from 23 May 2018 to 18th June 2018 verifying the transaction took place by each individual in their own capacity.
OR,
• Redacted Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Spreadsheet (containing - transaction details, applicant consent)
AND,
• A copy of Appendix 1 (as minuted) listing the members entered on 18th June 2018

[End Quote]
[Quote]

As per the Government Review of auDA recommendation 16 (c)

• a senior executive officer from the Department continue as a non-voting observer at auDA Board meetings and is present for all decisions taken by the board.

Please provide;

2. any document of correspondence from auDA to DOCA advising due notice of the auDA Board meeting held on the 18th June 2018.

[End Quote]

Yours sincerely,

Scott Long

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From: FOI
Department of Communications and the Arts


Attachment FOI 03 1819 auDA Membership Irregularities Decision letter.pdf
1.0M Download View as HTML


UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Mr Long

 

Decision on access - FOI 03-1819 – auDA membership Irregularities

 

I refer to your request for access to documents in the possession of the
Department of Communications and the Arts (the department) in accordance
with the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act).

 

A decision letter regarding access to the documents subject to your
request, is attached.

 

Please contact [1][email address] if you have any questions
regarding the processing of your request. In order to assist the
department in responding to your future communication on this request,
please quote the FOI tracking number located in the subject line.

 

Regards,

FOI Team

Department of Communications and the Arts

[2][email address]

 

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