Feeds

Police to get greater web censorship powers

Nominet prepares to yank more domains

The essential guide to IT transformation

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
Apple tried to get a ban on Galaxy, judge said: NO, NO, NO
Judge Koh refuses Samsung ban for the third time
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.