Feeds

Police to get greater web censorship powers

Nominet prepares to yank more domains

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Police will effectively get more powers to censor websites under proposals being developed by Nominet, the company that controls the .uk domain registry.

Following lobbying by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), Nominet wants to change the terms and conditions under which domain names are owned so that it can revoke them more easily in response to requests from law enforcement agencies.

The changes will mean that if Nominet is given "reasonable grounds to believe [domains] are being used to commit a crime" it will remove them from the .uk registry.

"There are increasing expectations from Law Enforcement Agencies that Nominet and its members will respond quickly to reasonable requests to suspend domain names being used in association with criminal activity and Nominet has been working with them in response to formal requests," the not-for-profit company told its members – the firms that sell .uk addresses – in a briefing this week.

At present, there is no specific obligation under Nominet's terms and conditions for owners to ensure their domain names are not used for crime.

Despite this, in December, at the request of the Met's Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU), Nominet revoked the domain names of 1,200 websites it said were being used to sell counterfeit designer goods. For legal cover, it said the owners breached their contracts by supplying registars with incorrect details.

Plans for more such action, which was taken without any court oversight, are likely to raise concerns over the potential for increased censorship online.

Last week, for example, the PCeU contacted the ISP hosting Fitwatch, a website the Met alleged was offering illegal advice to student protestors, and had it taken down. Mirror sites and copies of the information it carried quickly sprang up across dozens of hosts, making the attempted censorship ineffective.

By working through Nominet, however, it would be much easier for police to centrally block such efforts by revoking the domain name of any website republishing the allegedly illegal information.

Apparently aware of such concerns, in its briefing for members, Nominet said it will consider creating an appeals process, and that it will only act "if the incident was urgent or the registrar failed to comply [with a police request to revoke a domain name]". It also sees closer cooperation with law enforcement agencies as a way show the domain industry is capable of self-regulation.

Nominet's move nevertheless represents a victory for SOCA, which is also campaigning for similar arrangements internationally. It is being consulted in the policy discussions, as is the PCeU, HMRC, the Home Office, the Office of Fair Trading and Trading Standards. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.