SHADY DOMAIN REGISTRARS have been named and shamed in a report published by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) 'At-Large' community.
As ICANN's latest At-Large meeting rambles on in Brussels, one of its members has published a detailed report that names scores of registrars including big names such as AOL, Enom, Joker, France Telecom, Tucows and UK2 in what the authors claim are breaches of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA), the contract signed between registrars and ICANN.
Since its inception, ICANN has overseen the allocation of IP addresses and domain names, though it's the primarily the organisation's role in the latter that has led it to become embroiled in many controversies. Most domain registrars are ICANN accredited, which is supposed to give companies and individuals some semblance of confidence when they go to register a domain name. The report suggests that a number of those registrars, while claiming to be ICANN accredited, are breaking the rules.
The report details examples of these infractions, which range from poorly configured "whois" servers that allow hackers to siphon information from domains' whois records, all the way up to registrars not acting on domains that are known to host phishing and fraudulent medical websites.
Enom in particular is lambasted with the authors claiming that the firm "has transitioned from being a passive service provider to become an active facilitator of illicit criminal traffic, and possibly a knowing accessory." According to the authors, the Internet's second largest registrar failed to act on a letter sent by the US National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) asking it to act on fraudulent online pharmacies using domains that had been registered through the firm.
The sites in question displayed fake "pharmacy licenses" and were dispensing drugs without the need for prescriptions. Unsurprisingly that is illegal, however the report claims that Enom knowingly facilitated the operation of these sites, in the knowledge that the sites were hosting illegal content. The authors even point to one such site that is still online almost six months after the registrar was informed of its illegal standing by the NABP.
Overall, the report goes to show the sorry state of affairs with domain registrars doing little to help web users avoid getting scammed online. It also brings up the question, why isn't ICANN doing more to get companies such as Enom and Tucows, the second and third largest registrars, to clean up their acts?
Those thinking of registering a domain are recommended to at least skim the 96 page report, if for no other reason than to avoid those firms that simply don't give a damn. µ
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