ICANN orders Chinese registrar to stand and deliver

China

Over the past few years, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has been making considerable efforts to beef up its contractual compliance activities by issuing a number of notices of breach of the registrar accreditation agreement to errant registrars. The most recent of these concerns the Chinese registrar eName Technology, after the domain name ‘1111.com’ was allegedly hijacked earlier this year and the registrar failed to provide documentation detailing the transfer or, in fact, to respond at all to ICANN's request for information.

A look at the history of the domain name ‘1111.com’ shows that, between the beginning of January and February 16 2012, it was transferred between four different US-based registrants and three different registrars, before finally being transferred to eName Technology and a Chinese registrant. Whereas the domain name appears to have redirected earlier in the year to a sedate blog about the flora and fauna of Litchfield County Connecticut, a blog which appears to be associated with the registrant of record at the start of 2012, it now points to a website in Chinese that appears to contain malware.

In its notice of breach, ICANN attacked the registrar on a number of counts, including:

  • failure to provide written communications and evidence relating to the legitimacy of the transfer of ‘1111.com’;
  • failure to provide up-to-date contact information to ICANN (presumably this was seen as a possible reason for the registrar's non-response to ICANN); and
  • failure to display clearly on its website details of its deletion and auto-renewal policies.

ICANN's breach notice follows the suspension earlier this year of Turkish registrar Alantron Bilişim Ltd Şti, which was accused of double-selling the domain name ‘pricewire.com’ and then failing to provide ICANN with acceptable documentation concerning the same. According to ICANN's website, this suspension has since been lifted.

In the wake of the launch of the new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), these cases highlight the enormous responsibility entailed in acting as a domain name registrar and serve as a timely reminder that any potential new gTLD registrars should do their best to ensure that they have solid procedures in place to fulfil their obligations under their ICANN registrar accreditation agreement.

Further information about ICANN's contractual compliance programme can be accessed here and a list of recent breach notices can be found here.

David Taylor and Cindy Mikul, Hogan Lovells LLP, Paris

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