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Registrars turn blind eye to sites selling illegal steroids

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Next time you see websites brazenly pushing anabolic steroids, thank GoDaddy, Dynadot and a half-dozen other US-based registrars, which allow them to operate even though they're illegal, claims a new report.

Released Monday, the report catalogs 156 websites offering steroids without a prescription or verifying that the would-be buyer is over 18 years old. Such practices are a violation of laws in the US and in many other countries and a violation of the terms of service the registrars impose on their customers. All eight of the registrars are, concludes the report, turning a blind eye to the practice.

"It's not as if nothing can be done," says John Horton, president of LegitScript.com," one of the organizations responsible for the report. "The domain name registrars can and should terminate these sites when it's apparent they are offering anabolic steroids without a prescription and without age verification."

Other US-based companies named in the report included: Abacus America, which operates a registrar called Aplus.com; DSTR Acquisition VII, which operates dotster.com; Everyones Internet, which appears to no longer operate under that name; eNom; EstDomains; GoDaddy/Wild West; and Parava. All eight companies reserve the right to terminate the service of customers who use their registered domain names for illegal purposes, Horton said.

None of the registrars responded to a request for comment with the exception of GoDaddy, which said it had reviewed the GoDaddy-issued domains included in the report and determined the owners did not appear to be in violation of its terms and services. "This report confirms what we knew all along - there needs to be reform when it comes to Internet pharmacies," GoDaddy said in a statement.

Yes, it seems a bit opportunistic to see a company such as LegitScript, which performs online pharmacy verification, leading the charge against online steroids providers. But keep in mind the report was co-authored by KnujOn.com, an anti-spam outfit that over the past few months has documented lax oversight of specific registrars. Several weeks ago, it released a report that found 75 percent of domain names advertised in spam messages were registered by just 10 registrars. (eNom was among the registrars cited in that report.)

A theme frequently sounded by KnujOn is that some of the most seemingly intractable internet scourges could be readily eliminated if registrars enforced the rules imposed by ICANN. Alas, that would require work on their part and could even mean they'd have to turn away paying customers.

Hawking steroids online may not rate as one of the more abusive practices on the net today, but it's clearly illegal in the US and one more example of registrars who'd rather look the other way. ®

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