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Legal action threatened against domain slammer

DRoE angers Dutch hosting firms

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The Dutch hosting provider Deinternetman and its American partner Register.com (no relation to El Reg), ponder legal action against Domain Registry of Europe (DRoE) for sending their customers letters urging them to renew their domain contracts.

The two companies believe it is a deliberate attempt to deceive domain name owners into switching their domain registrations.

"We receive about four to five complaints a week," says Rene Kooyman of Deinternetman, referring to an example of a renewal notice on his company's website. "Taking this company to court will hopefully stop them from continuing these scams. We have asked other hosting providers that use The Register.com as a partner, such as Planet Internet and Versatel, to join us."

It is a familiar theme. Last year, the UK Advertising Watchdog Authority (ASA) slammed Domain Registry of Europe (DRoE) over similar mail shots. DRoE, however, maintained that the notices were "not a bill, rather an easy means of payment should you decide to register or renew your domain(s) with us".

According to its own website the company, originally from Canada, was established in January of 2001 after the deregulation of Domain Name Registrars. It also trades as Domain Registry of America, Domain Registry of Australia and Domain Registry of Canada.

As early as 2001, the Canadian Competition Bureau issued a warning to Canadian businesses to take caution before paying what appeared to be invoices. More importantly, Domain Registry of Canada wasn't certified by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), the official administrator of the .ca domain name in Canada.

Domain slamming gets its name from the practice by some American (upstart) long-distance telephone companies to switch people's service from one carrier to another without informing them or through deception. Web site owners that are not steeped in the technology or the actual registration process are being led astray easily by letters from companies as Domain Registry of Europe. Having switched, many customers discover that their web sites are no longer accessible, because they are not getting the additional technological assistance.

Rene Kooijman of Deinternetman is optimistic about his case against Domain Registry of Europe. Last year, a federal judge in New York ordered Domain Registry of America to stop telling Register.com customers that the two companies were affiliated in an attempt to get their business. ®

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