Date: 05/23/2008On May 23, 2008, ICANN issued Enforcement Notices against 10 Accredited Registrars and announced this through a press release entitled: “Worst Spam Offenders” Notified by ICANN, Compliance system working to correct Whois and other issues. This was largely in response to a report issued by KnujOn called The 10 Worst Registrars in terms of spam advertised junk product sites and compliance failure. The mention of the word spam in the title of the ICANN memo is somewhat misleading since ICANN does not address issues of spam or email abuse. Website content and usage are not within ICANN’s mandate. However the KnujOn Report details how various registrars have not complied with their contractual obligations under the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA). The main point of the KnujOn research was to demonstrate the relationships between compliance failure, illicit product traffic, and spam. The report demonstrated that out of 900 ICANN accredited Registrars fewer than 20 held 90% of the web domains advertised in spam. These same Registrars were also most frequently cited by KnujOn as failing to resolve complaints made through the Whois Data Problem Reporting System (WDPRS).
More than half of those registrars named had already been contacted by ICANN prior to publication of KnujOn’s report, and the remainder have since been notified following an analysis of other sources of data, including ICANN’s internal database.
With tens of millions of domain names in existence, and tens of thousands changing hands each day, ICANN relies upon the wider Internet community to report and review what it believes to be inaccurate registration data for individual domains. To this end, a dedicated online system called the Whois Data Problem Report System (“WDPRS”) was developed in 2002 to receive and track such complaints.*
“ICANN sends, on average, over 75 enforcement notices per month following complaints from the community. We also conduct compliance audits to determine whether accredited registrars and registries are adhering to their contractual obligations,” explained Stacy Burnette, Director of Compliance at ICANN.** “Infringing domain names are locked and websites removed every week through this system.”
Although the majority of registrars offer excellent services and contribute to the highly competitive market for domains, ICANN’s compliance department has developed an escalation process to protect registrants and give registrars an opportunity to cure cited violations before ICANN commences the breach process.
However, while registrars are responsible for investigating claims of Who is inaccuracy, it is not fair to assume a registrar that sponsors spam-generating domain names is affiliated with the spam activity. A distinction must be made between registrars and an end user who chooses to use a particular domain name for illegitimate purposes.
“But if those registrars, including those publicly cited, do not investigate and correct alleged inaccuracies reported to ICANN, our escalation procedure can ultimately result in ICANN terminating their accreditation and preventing them from registering domain names,” Ms Burnette said.