DOMAIN NAME REGISTRAR Nomimet has been accused of suspending domains at the "mere request" of law enforcement agencies, according to a stinging blog post from the Open Rights Group (ORG).
A group statement was expected to be issued by ORG, Nominet, the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) and London Internet Exchange (LINX), but according to ORG's Jim Killock no agreement has been reached.
"Nominet has to date been suspending domain names at the mere request of law enforcement in a variety of cases," says the post.
"The full details of these suspensions have not been released: rather, some summary information has been provided orally giving an indication of the volumes and the nature of the offences. We are asking Nominet to publish this information."
The INQUIRER has asked Nominet to comment on the blog post, and the circumstances in which it suspends domain names.
Although ORG accepts that in some cases domains will have been suspended fairly, it is concerned that without proper guidance in the area it could be open to abuse.
"We have no doubt that so far most of the domains have been worth removing. Some clearly have been taken down incorrectly. But whatever the current practice - the scope of a criminality policy puts in place principles which will inevitably be used much more widely in the future," added Killock.
"Currently, no-one can know in advance when their fundamental Convention rights of freedom of expression, assembly, property and private communications may be interfered with by Nominet - acting at its own discretion on advice from a variety of state agencies."
The ISPA, LINX and ORG have each decided that domain suspensions need to take place after receipt of a court order, and have told Nominet that this is their preferred solution.
"ORG's position is that seizures and suspensions should be taking place only on court orders as the law and the Convention require," adds the blog post.
The Open Rights Group is asking that Nominet respond and tell it and the other parties how it will act on future law enforcement requests and whether they will require court orders before doing so. It also asks that the firm publish a list of its decisions to date, the agencies that made the request and the offences associated with them.
Nominet continues to work through its policy process on the issue of dealing with domain names used in connection with criminal activity. We had hoped to submit a proposed policy to our board in the December time-frame but following some recent public feedback it is clear that there are issues that require further discussion. Our approach from the outset has been to seek consensus where possible. Therefore we are working to reconvene the issue group in January to attempt to see whether differences can be resolved, prior to submitting any recommendation to our board.”
Nominet sent us a statement, which said, "Nominet remains committed to ensuring all stakeholders have their views represented, so we can continue to run .uk for the benefit of all. For more information on the policy process and the latest documents from the issue group meetings, please visit http://www.nominet.org.uk/policy/issuegroups/current/criminalactivity/." µ
Backlight borkage gives display a 'stage light' affect
And you thought Blighty's age verification plans were bad
It likes to move it, move it
But how much does it cost?