Feeds

Nominet claws back cops' automatic .UK takedown power

New plan: court order needed in some cases

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

UK cops hoping to swiftly shutdown .uk websites accused of being involved in counterfeiting will have a harder time under proposed changes to Nominet policy.

Under the changes, which will affect all .uk domain names, Nominet will be able to deny a site suspension request unless police provide a court order or the site is accused of putting the public at serious risk - such as flogging dodgy drugs.

New rights for registrants to object to and appeal a suspension have also been proposed, and the new draft policy also makes it clear how serious and non-serious crimes are handled.

The recommendations feed on the responses of "well over 100" punters who submitted comments on earlier drafts of the policy, according to Nominet policy director Alex Blowers.

A volunteer "Issue Group" comprising cops, techies, policy experts and academics has been working on a process to enable law enforcement agencies to shut down .uk sites selling fake pharmaceuticals or bootleg handbags for the last several months.

Early draft recommendations came in for criticism because police would be able to instruct Nominet to take down unlimited numbers of domains without a court order.

Following previous coverage, many El Reg readers were outraged that the proposals didn't seem to do enough to protect ordinary .uk owners from over-zealous cops.

While Nominet has always said that the takedown policy should always be a last resort for police, the new draft, which is open for public comment until the end of Friday, 18 November, addresses some of those concerns, according to Blowers.

"We're trying to make sure there's a process by which people can hold us to account for our conduct and the administrative processes we put in place," he said. "Law enforcement agencies should be prepared to go to court and obtain a court order if the application of this policy is challenged."

The new draft recommendations state that should a suspension notice be objected to by a domain's registrant, Nominet would be able to consult an "independent expert", likely an outside lawyer, before deciding whether to ask police for a court order.

Risk to the public?

A new revision also draws a distinction between serious cases of botnets, phishing and fake pharmaceuticals sales, which pose an "imminent risk" to internet users, and cases of counterfeiting, which are perhaps not as risky.

Nominet would draw a distinction between the two scenarios. If it received a suspension request relating to a 'low risk' crime, such as alleged counterfeiting, it would have to inform the registrant, giving them an opportunity to object and/or rectify the problem, before it suspended the domain name.

The policy has stated in all drafts that it would not be applicable to private complainants, such as intellectual property interests, and that hasn't changed.

"We're excluding all civil disputes," Blowers said. "If the MPAA [for example] wanted to bring down 25,000 domains associated with online piracy, that would fall outside of this process."

The policy has also been tweaked with respect to free speech issues. Now, it states that cases involving "hate speech" or obscenity, which would usually require the authorisation of the Director of Public Prosecutions or Attorney General to prosecute, are specifically excluded.

In other words, to take down an overtly racist or egregiously pornographic site, Nominet would not suspend the domain name without a court order.

The recommendations are still in draft form, but Blowers said he expects them to be submitted to the Nominet board of directors for approval in December. A working policy could be implemented early next year.

Friday is the last day to submit comments on the proposals. The drafts themselves, background information and contact details for commenting, can be found here. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
EE: STILL Blighty's best mobe network, says 'Frappucino' Moore
Fresh round of network stats fisticuffs possibly on the cards here
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?