.auDA (.au Domain Administration) has announced a review into how we use domain names. The ubiquitous “.com” could be for the chop along with the use of non-ASCII characters and other changes.

Among the reforms being proposed is the ability to create simplified addresses that drop the Top Level Domain (TLD). So, instead of browsing to lifehacker.com.au, you’ll simply head to lifehacker.au – assuming we register the address.

The other big change will be the ability to use non-ASCII characters in domain names. That will allow the use of Arabic, Cyrillic, or Chinese language characters, for example, in .au domains.

auDA Policy Review Panel Chair John Swinson said, “We believe there is an untapped market for internationalised domain names given Australia’s multicultural community and the increasing demand for Australian products and services overseas”.

For most of the last three decades or so, domain names have been rolling along with few changes. The cynical part of me sees this as a way to increase revenue for domain registrars. Now, instead of registering .com and .com.au domains, you’ll need to grab the .au as well and, potentially, the non-ASCII versions as well in order to secure your company’s name.

It’s possible this change will kick off a whole new domain name land grab as squatters and other try to move in and grab brand names in an effort to extract more moony from trademark holders.

.auDA will also look into prohibited domain names and publishing a list of revered names that can’t be registered as well as sub-leasing domains and rules around domain suspension.

There’s a discussion paper that covers the full list of questions the review seeks to address.

.auDA will be holding public forums in Perth (Feb 5), Sydney (Feb 9), Melbourne (Feb 14) and Brisbane (Feb 16). You can register here.

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