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Register.com argues it can't be sued for negligence

We were negligent. But it wasn't gross

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US domain registrar Register.com has told a federal judge it can't be sued for a DNS records switch that wreaked havoc on Baidu because the ham-fisted blunder didn't amount to "gross negligence".

The January 12 attack caused people who typed valid Baidu addresses into their browsers to visit a site controlled by the Iranian Cyber Army. It succeeded because an employee of Register.com accepted an invalid confirmation code from an impostor claiming to work for Baidu, the registrar fully admits. But because the goof doesn't meet the legal standards for gross negligence, Baidu's lawsuit should be dismissed, attorneys argued in a recent court filing.

"When the hyperbole and conclusory buzzwords of the Complaint are stripped away, Baidu’s allegations entirely fail to support gross negligence," they wrote. "A customer service agent mistakenly verified a customer by failing to confirm that the correct security code was provided back by the requester. But that is not an allegation of gross negligence; at best, it is simple mistake or ordinary negligence."

Under Register.com's terms of service, customers are barred from bringing civil complaints for normal negligence, so the lawsuit should be dismissed, the attorneys wrote.

We wouldn't be surprised to learn that the lawyers are on solid legal footing. But like counsel for OJ Simpson and countless other winning parties, we wouldn't be surprised if they awoke to find they won the court case but lost an equally important public relations battle. ®

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