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03|26|2008 04:59 pm EDT

U.S. Domain Name Registrar Conduct A Ticking Time Bomb

by Adam Strong in Categories: Featured

Attorney John Berryhill addresses an important issue that seems to be ignored by some U.S. based registrars: Doing business with Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) and countries under US sanctions is against the law.

Berryhill’s article points to several obvious violations of the law by registrars including Network Solutions, Godaddy and Enom who all appear to be conducting business with Sudanese businesses. The Sudanese businesses all have registered domain names through these U.S. based registrars and more specifically the companies Berryhill references are listed as SDNs.

SDNs, Specially Designated Nationals, are companies, organizations or individuals with whom the U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Control has strictly forbidden U.S. citizens from conducting business. The list can be downloaded from the Treasury Department website and is easy to find. Registrars can easily download this list in order to comply with the law and to cease doing business with these entities. Berryhill even makes a point that registrars would have no problem identifying domains registered with Sudan as the country of the registrant.

Berryhill’s entire piece seems to be urging registrars to be more proactive

” . . .yes, people go to jail for violating these programs, and any clever individual can run through the various sanctions programs and fairly quickly identify internet domain names among the listings.”

Domain name registries, registrars and ICANN are all based in the U.S. and therefore subject to the same laws as any other business based in the U.S. These businesses face major public outcry by continuing their ambivolence ignore these laws :

For quite a few US registrars, failure to mind the OFAC regulations is a legal and PR time bomb waiting to explode. . . .

. . . In the long run, it is not going to look good for any registrar, or for ICANN, when the ill-intentioned discover such nuggets hidden among the OFAC programs, such as the observation that the upcoming North American Registrars Meeting in New Orleans is being hosted in part by a domain name registrar which is providing domain registration services for the website used by the Islamic Army of Iraq, at which are hosted celebratory videos of US soldiers being blown up by improvised explosive devices. If US registrars continue to operate blindly, and respond only when a public enforcement action is made, then sooner or later someone is going to start wondering about whether the registries are also liable, or indeed ICANN itself (which delegated the Sudanese ccTLD to an employee of, you guessed it, Sudatel, in 2002).

Earlier this month, domain name registrar Enom was forced by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to shut down 80 websites run by a British travel agent based in Spain who operated a travel agency booking vacations in Cuba. Although the travel agent claimed to be providing travel services for non-US citizens, the sites ran on domains registered with Enom, a U.S. company. The Treasury Department saw this as a violation of law and Enom was forced to comply by shutting down the sites.

No matter what your political viewpoint is on the subject of U.S. government sanctions and the SDN policy, these are U.S. laws and these U.S. based registrars are subject to them.

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6 Comments

Go Daddy Public Relations

March 27, 2008 @ 12:16 pm EDT

Go Daddy is in full compliance with all U.S. State Department regulations, including sanctions aganist Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) referenced by attorney John Berryhill.

You can confirm this with Mr. Berryhill directly.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an interview on this matter, please contact Go Daddy Public Relations via email at PR@GoDaddy.com.

We look forward to clarification on this important issue.

Thank you,
Go Daddy Public Relations

Jon

March 27, 2008 @ 2:03 pm EDT

Berryhill is wrong on this. Domain names, email service, et al. fall under “Telecommunications” – and is specifically exempted from this law.

Adam Strong

March 27, 2008 @ 2:21 pm EDT

Jon, We’d be grateful if you could please provide more details about this. Why was enom forced to shut-down the sites if your statement is true ?

David

March 30, 2008 @ 7:31 pm EDT

Berryhill is wrong on this. Domain names, email service, et al. fall under “Telecommunications” – and is specifically exempted from this law.

Better tell John what law says that. :D

Jon, We’d be grateful if you could please provide more details about this. Why was enom forced to shut-down the sites if your statement is true ?

http://www.domainnamenews.com/up-to-the-minute/us-government-blacklists-80-tourism-websites/1470

John Berryhill

April 23, 2008 @ 12:54 am EDT

The telecommunication exemption is very specific, very narrow, and does not extend to domain names:

http://kahanenet.org/court_documents/Additional%20Responses%20from%20Kach,%20Kahane%20Chai,%20Kahane_all.org.pdf

As pointed out by Adam Strong, OFAC recently took action relative to Enom in order to shut down a number of Cuba-related domain names.

A domain name registration is a service contract between a registrar and a registrant, it is not a “telecommunication” service.

jeff schneider

April 29, 2008 @ 10:49 pm EDT

Wow,Looks like the I.C.A. is becoming more important by the day. The domainer Industry is attracting some incredibly large players with apetites for web control. I remember people telling me how crazy I was to invest money in domains. We are now seeing who the crazy ones are. Gratefully, Jeff Schneider

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