I wanted to add my own little 2p to the debate about Nominet suspending domain names without a Court Order. The debate seems to have seen Nominet take a fair bit of stick for this, but I don’t think it is fair and I want to give some real examples of why I think they are right.
Some of the businesses I am involved in are in the lending sector; I own brands like Quick Loans, Easy Loans and about another 20 active sites. We receive emails on a daily basis from people who have been victims of deceptions from persons using .uk domain names to convince them to part with their money.
The culprits are based out in India, they use UK phone numbers rented via a Skype like service and a .uk domain name. Now I’m totally in agreement that certain victims are just being stupid. Why would anyone go to the local post office to buy Apple iTunes Vouchers to pay for an upfront admin fee on a loan?
The victims are partly convinced that it is legitimate because the site uses a trusted .uk domain name and must be ok because the whole UK lending scene is regulated. Yes, they turn their brains off. They don’t ever think that someone can keep a site going operating a fraud without anyone doing anything!
The trouble for us is that when we report that the name on the whois of this fraudulent .uk site is clearly wrong. Nominet have to take time to write to them. They have to write to the name on the whois. This is often to Bob Singh, in London Street, Prague, UK with the post code AB19 8UK. It’s clearly bogus details but rules must be followed and a letter goes out giving them 28 days to reply or the domain name will be terminated.
What I’m arguing for is that Nominet should be given the right, in certain circumstances to intervene and close sites down that are quite clearly fraudulent. Yes I’m talking exceptional circumstances to protect members of the public, but if you look at the number of sites that Nominet have suspended – they have been low in numbers and all have been to protect the public from fraud, not to censor people.
In my opinion, so long as Nominet publish details of sites that have been closed, with due process followed, a right for legitimate domain users to appeal. I can’t see a problem with it, in fact I’d welcome it. It would certainly help reduce the number of victims of the frauds that we are witnessing. Granted we can’t stop all the frauds, but we could prevent a few if the FCA were to contact Nominet and ask them to take it offline.
Even if the only thing that was required for the domain registrant to do to keep it online was to confirm their identity to Nominet. At least it would be something.
I’m not personally aware of more than 1-2 sites since this started that have protested about Nominet suspending their domain names without a court order. As far as I know, these domains either remained online or they were reinstated quite quickly.
What I would say is that I'm happy with Nominet having this power, I wouldn't be happy with the EU being given these powers as recent reports suggest they will.