The Registrars Who Shut Down Websites After Demands From City Of London Police Likely Violated ICANN Policy

from the not-how-it-works dept

We recently wrote about the City of London Police ordering various registrars to shut down a list of websites based on the City of London Police themselves deciding they must be illegal. That is, without a court order or any judicial oversight, the police just decided the sites were illegal and needed to be taken offline. On top of that, the police force's new "IP Crime Unit" threatened registrars that if they didn't obey, then they might lose their accreditation from ICANN. This was based on a total misreading of both copyright law and ICANN's rules.

In fact, Mark Jeftovic, the head of EasyDNS, the one registrar that appears to have both refused the City of London Police's demand and also spoken out publicly about this terrible attack on due process, is now noting that all of the other registrars who complied with the orders are almost certainly in violation of ICANN's policies because they obeyed the police. The main issue is that part of the demand from the police was that the registrar not only redirect the site to a propaganda page, but that it also "freeze the whois record" to block any further changes.

But, as Jeftovic points out, ICANN has very specific rules about these things, and because some random police force demands it is not an approved reason to do such a thing:
Since there were no charges against any of the domains and no court orders, it may be at the registrars' discretion to play ball with these ridiculous demands. However – what they clearly cannot do now, is prevent any of those domain holders from simply transferring out their names to more clueful, less wimpy registrars.

If any of those registrars denied the ability to do that, then they would be in clear violation of the ICANN Inter-Registrars Transfer Policy.

Section 3, Obligations of The  Registrar of Record clearly spells out the reasons why a registrar may deny a transfer-out request, and they are limited specifically to cases of fraud (the domain was paid for fraudulently), a UDRP proceeding or, hey, get this one "Court order by a court of competent jurisdiction", as well as some administrative reasons (like the domain was registered less than 60 days ago).

What is conspicuously absent from the list of reasons why a registrar that actually complied with this lunacy can now deny a transfer-out request is "because some guy sent you an email telling you to lock it down".

Jeftovic further notes that the registrars who folded upon receiving the police threat have now opened themselves up to significant liability problems, because the sites that got taken down can respond via the Transfer Dispute Resolution Policy (TDRP), which could mean that the registrars will have to pay "substantial" fees for blocking the transfer without a valid basis.

It certainly would be interesting to see the full list of sites the City of London Police decided to censor, as well as who the various registrars are, and how they reacted. While such a list doesn't appear to be out yet, I imagine it's only a matter of time.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    kenichi tanaka (profile), Oct 11th, 2013 @ 7:23pm

    This is hilarious because these registrars can not just have their accreditation suspended but they can also have their accreditation terminated. To make things worse, the police as well as the registrar can also be sued for taking an illegal act by a police force when there was no court order to direct them to comply.

    SHEESH! Didn't these registrars bother to consult their attorneys or any lawyers experienced with these matters?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Pixelation, Oct 11th, 2013 @ 7:35pm

    ICANN? We don't need no stinkin' ICANN!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2013 @ 7:35pm

    I smell a class action lawsuit in the works as well

    As a potential member of multiple of these shuttered sites, we should be able to cobble together everything needed to get some lawsuits going. Now to find out who, what and where to make these things out too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Steve, Oct 11th, 2013 @ 7:37pm

    Why not

    Seems like the copyright industry in Briton, errr... "police" tried it on to see if it would go over, and why not it is doubtful there will be any serious repercussions (for them).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2013 @ 7:38pm

    Re:

    [SHEESH! Didn't these registrars bother to consult their attorneys or any lawyers experienced with these matters?]

    I doubt it, the case of "City of London Police" step in it fairly new, in terms of that it's in fact an official law enforcement unit... just that they don't have the right to order the registrars blocking transfer of domain, etc. It's understandable for the registrars to not realizing the police have no right to do so without checking the rulebook.

    That said, I agree that before these registrars do something unusual regarding their business, they should have checked what the rulebook says.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2013 @ 7:43pm

    Funny how the entertainment arms are so hell fire bent to have the law enforced yet have little or no compunction about breaking it or strongly bending it when it is in their favor.

    You as well as I know that the London Police did not just up and do this on a snap decision. Someone pushed them hard to do so. I imagine when the list comes out of who not to have a domain registered with it will also come out just who pushed to have it done.

    If you ever had a reason not to buy from the majors it's staring you right in the face on this one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    kenichi tanaka (profile), Oct 11th, 2013 @ 7:52pm

    What's sad is that registrars, webhosts and ISPs actually require a court order before they comply with any request or demand.

    It's nice to see that in Europe, the U.K. or whatever they want to call themselves (I wish they would stick to one name for the whole country) that they don't even bother going to court. They take the mentality, "we're the police so we can do whatever the hell we want to do".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2013 @ 9:40pm

    Re:

    YES, the 1st thing that popped into my head...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2013 @ 1:18am

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    DigitalImpostor, Oct 12th, 2013 @ 2:01am

    Response to: kenichi tanaka on Oct 11th, 2013 @ 7:52pm

    " It's nice to see that in Europe, the U.K. or whatever they want to call themselves (I wish they would stick to one name for the whole country)"

    The U.K. and Europe are different groups of countries not individual countries.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    corwin155 (profile), Oct 12th, 2013 @ 3:13am

    Fascism

    When threatened by totalitarian police state such as City of London Police.
    One must comply or find themselves, water-boarded and thrown into a secret prison or can be assassinated if they refuse to do what you say.
    Brought to you by United Police State

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Oct 12th, 2013 @ 6:27am

    Re:

    "in Europe, the U.K. or whatever they want to call themselves (I wish they would stick to one name for the whole country) "

    The country's name is England, which is part of the United Kingdom (which contains 4 countries and related territories), which is further part of the continent of Europe (which contains around 50 countries).

    Try educating yourself, it's not that hard. You've just basically complained that California can't make up its mind whether it's called California, the USA or North America. Yes, you do look that stupid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    anonymouse, Oct 12th, 2013 @ 7:20am

    Re:

    That link is the first time i have ever felt that there is real hope for the future of the internet. I can see where they are coming from, The Us alone is creating an internet that is fractured and has many hidden parts just to overcome the illegal monitoring of people around the world. Yes the kids need protecting and yes there are criminals and terrorists using the internet, but not in the numbers that Government's would like you to think.

    And driving them deep underground is just making it harder to monitor and investigate those that need to be investigated.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2013 @ 7:47am

    what has happened here is pure threatening behavior! the police may well be saying that no one was forced to, but everyone knows what it was meant to do. this is just another example of the USA entertainment industries influencing another country via the person they bankroll. the 'special relationship' between Obama and Cameron, was not, as far as i was aware, supposed to mean that an industry in one country had to be protected by the laws of another, and if it didn't, that threats were put out to achieve the same end, even though in doing so, the companies concerned would be breaking different laws anyway. it shows that there is nothing that wont be done to keep a few fat, old, stuck in the muddy fuckers from changing their ways, regardless of what laws were broken (but completely ignored) on route!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2013 @ 8:09am

    This whole idea of the U.S. exporting their stupid IP rules, virtually at gunpoint, "You adopt our rules or you don't get aid money, or weapons, or political gain", is sickening. One of these days, a country is going to rebel, maybe violently, and the result won't be pretty.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Bluesman, Oct 12th, 2013 @ 8:29am

    Re:

    "It's nice to see that in Europe, the U.K. or whatever they want to call themselves (I wish they would stick to one name for the whole country).."(sic)

    FYI...

    "Europe" is a continent (like Asia).

    "UK" is the United Kingdom (consisting of England Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland).

    In the same way China and Japan are both in Asia, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all parts of the UK, and indeed all part of Europe as well.

    It looks like you would also therefore assume China and Japan are the same place with an identity crisis, in the same way you have assumed that the UK, Europe, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are all the same place!

    It might be better if you go and revise/study your geography (before negating your valid points by posting rubbish) before embarrassing yourself the same way again ;-)

    HTH

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Tony Gultice (profile), Oct 12th, 2013 @ 10:27am

    Re:

    "It's nice to see that in Europe, the U.K. or whatever they want to call themselves (I wish they would stick to one name for the whole country) that they don't even bother going to court."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNu8XDBSn10

    That should clear up any confusion on your part.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    DP, Oct 12th, 2013 @ 10:45am

    All highly dubious

    The whole situation stinks. Who do the police think they are - the courts or something? It's not for them to try and throw their weight around, making up new "rules" as they go along and unilaterally decide what is and what isn't a crime. Wonder who pressured them from the entertainment industry? Never mind REAL crimes like murder, burglary, assault and rape. Just forget all those sort of trivial things. Just knuckle under and do the entertainment industry's bidding. Signed, Disgusted of the UK.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Cloudsplitter, Oct 12th, 2013 @ 12:08pm

    The interesting thing here, is that police have no Judicial standing to make such a running without a Court order, and the web sites damaged in this manner have full rights to legal actions against the officers involved, the police force as a whole and the ISP's, sounds like a nice payday.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2013 @ 2:00pm

    Police from City Of London policing the World.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Loki, Oct 12th, 2013 @ 4:11pm

    Re:

    At the rate the federal government is going, that country is likely to be the US itself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Loki, Oct 12th, 2013 @ 4:15pm

    Re: All highly dubious

    The police think they are exactly what they are becoming, enforcement arms for the corporations that are slowly taking over the governments. Just wait until TPP and other "trade agreements" get passed and dilute government sovereignty even more.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Larry, Oct 13th, 2013 @ 12:20am

    How shocking that now they do it completely illegally.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 13th, 2013 @ 2:33am

    Re:

    I would like to clarify that the London police police force is actually the "Metropolitan Police".

    The "City of London Police" is a very small force that police the small portion of London known as the "City of London" which is a small sector in the centre that houses the financial district.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This