Feeds

Why Nominet disconnected 1,000 sites with no court oversight

Cherchez les cops

High performance access to file storage

The body responsible for the .uk internet addresses disconnected over 1,200 websites without any oversight from a court. The much-publicised action last month was based only on police assertions about criminal activity on the sites.

Two Nominet executives have told technology law podcast OUT-LAW Radio that it severed the connection between 1,219 domain names and the sites that lay behind them without the kind of court order that web hosting companies would usually demand.

The dramatic action was unprecedented and attracted publicity last month, but some website owners may be surprised to learn that Nominet was prepared to disconnect so many sites on the evidence of police claims alone.

"We were approached by the Police Central E-Crime Unit, which is a division of The Met, and asked to take down about 1,200 .uk domain names that were involved or under investigation for criminal activity," said Eleanor Bradley, Nominet's head of operations. "The Met asked us to take these domain names out of action so we suspended them, meaning that the websites were no longer available but that they couldn't be re-registered and used again."

Hosting companies will usually refuse requests, even by police forces, to take down websites without a court order demanding that they do so.

Nominet legal head Nick Wenban-Smith told OUT-LAW Radio that it acted because there had been a breach of the contract agreed by the people behind the websites. They had given false contact details, he said.

"If you provide false details or they are out of date for some reason then that enables us to have an investigation and suspend until we're happy that everything is well," he said. "People who are going to those sites to which the domain name links them don't know who they're dealing with, the address is false."

The police also told Nominet about the massive organised counterfeiting operation it believed was being conducted through the sites.

Though the formal reason for suspension was the address-related contractual breach, Wenban-Smith admitted that the large number of sites involved and the counterfeiting allegations did lead Nominet to treat this case differently to others.

"It was probably a truncated process compared to what we would normally do for a member of the public [because of] the counterfeiting and the volume and the breaches seemed to be serious breaches," he said.

Wenban-Smith defended Nominet's actions by saying that it had to be able to enforce the contracts that it agrees with people registering domain names. He also said that the fact that people behind just 20 of the 1,219 domain names affected complained and only two domain names were reinstated were evidence the action was justified.

"There did seem to be overwhelming evidence that there were breaches of contract. You can look at the number of domains and the very few queries we had back as confirmation of that," he said.

Copyright © 2009, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.