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When Registrars Look the Other Way, Drug-Dealers Get Paid

Garth Bruen

Since November of last year we have been discussing the problem of illicit and illegal online pharmacy support by ICANN-accredited Registrars. In several articles and direct contact with the Registrars we have tirelessly tried to convey the seriousness of this problem, many listened, some did not. The issues were explained in detail here on CircleID in: What's Driving Spam and Domain Fraud? Illicit Drug Traffic, Online Drug Traffic and Registrar Policy, and Internet Drug Traffic, Service Providers and Intellectual Property. Registrar issues were also voiced by other authors here like Statton Hammock Domain Registrars & Registries: Don't Say You Weren't Warned.

With the background information already known, the case presented here is much more specific and concerns EvaPharmacy, which was until recently, the world's largest online criminal pharmacy network. The shadowy network claims to be located in the U.S. but is actually run from Russia and uses multiple layers of fraud to mask its illegitimacy. The fraud in question has been clearly documented, not just by LegitScript and KnujOn but by the Pharmacy Boards of Manitoba (pdf), Minnesota (pdf), Ontario (pdf), Quebec (pdf), and Texas (pdf). All issued letters to the non-complaint Registrars explaining that the pharmacy licenses being used were forgeries.

Additionally, eNom (DemandMedia) received a letter from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (pdf) indicating that domains sponsored by them posted fake pharmacy licenses. Investigators were able to order drugs without a prescription from an illicit eNom-sponsored site without a prescription. The drugs were shipped into the United States from India, which is illegal also. At the time of this writing, the domain is still actively selling drugs (canadianhealthcaremall[DOT]net). The domains in question also have their WHOIS records concealed by a privacy service, a practice called "Material Falsification” by 9th Circuit Judge. Beyond the obvious legal and moral issues, this could be a material breach of eNom's contract with ICANN, as the Registrar Accreditation Agreement requires Registrars to follow all laws and government regulations. Unfortunately, ICANN has been strangely silent on this issue. ICANN was issued all preliminary documents concerning EvaPharmacy and the Registrars months ago but has not responded in meaningful way as of yet.

The good news is that most Registrars worked with us to shut the networks down. 11 Registrars including Godaddy, Directi, and Network Solutions all did their part to bring EvaPharmacy down. Five others including eNom still sponsor these sites. This is the key, cybercrime only profits with the tacit support of the Internet Industry. Remember this when you get your next piece of spam or malware.

None of this is speculation of hypothesis, it is all documented fact. The entire report can be downloaded and read here (pdf).

By Garth Bruen, Internet Fraud Analyst and Policy Developer. More blog posts from Garth Bruen can also be read here.

Related topics: Access Providers, Cybercrime, DNS, Domain Names, Registry Services, Email, ICANN, Internet Governance, Law, Malware, Policy & Regulation, Security, Spam, Whois

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Comments

Were customers of EvaPharmacy receiving absolutely nothing Bill Butkiewicz  –  May 04, 2010 9:15 PM PDT

Were customers of EvaPharmacy receiving absolutely nothing for their money? Were they receiving candy manufactured to closely resemble pharmaceutical pills? Were they receiving poisonous sub-standard products which caused them harm? Were they receiving something much less than a person might expect paying a fraction of the price of the "real thing"? Any adult seeking to do business with these pill purveyors (particularly these obviously odd non-establishment shops) obviously has personal problems they're seemingly desperate to address. These needs of theirs are likely very trying, and downright sad. Too often our establishment reaction is to criminalize their attempts like this to self-medicate.  Who are we to stand in judgement of others personal psychological/medical needs such as these?  We can suppose that these sorts of shops exist because there are customers out there that need their services… Customers that (apparently) can't get these needs fulfilled anyway else.  So the shops are forced to jump through hoops (via "fraudulent" net registrations as you charge) to keep a step ahead of their needy customers nanny state officials (that would see these needy citizen/servants imprisoned rather than address their personal medical needs outside of the authorized/chartered "official" supply sources).  Unless you're an employee or lobbyist for Big Pharma (totally out for your own $ interests) here in the States, it's quizzical why you'd get so puffed up to the point of beating on needy sick (likely poorer than you without health insurance) people.

Protecting, not targetting consumers Garth Bruen  –  May 05, 2010 3:22 PM PDT

Were customers of EvaPharmacy receiving absolutely nothing for their money? Were they receiving candy manufactured to closely resemble pharmaceutical pills?

Are you a customer? How do you know the medicines are so safe?

Too often our establishment reaction is to criminalize their attempts like this to self-medicate. Who are we to stand in judgement of others personal psychological/medical needs such as these?

You've answered your own question. This is why we have doctors, pharmacists, industry standards, regulations…

We can suppose that these sorts of shops exist because there are customers… that (apparently) can't get these needs fulfilled anyway else.

They can't get them filled because they don't have a prescription or a legitimate need to take copious amounts of Soma, Hydrocodone or Vicodin.

So the shops are forced to jump through hoops (via "fraudulent" net registrations as you charge) to keep a step ahead of their needy customers nanny state officials

That nanny state provides a chain of accountability you do not have with fake pharmacies.

(that would see these needy citizen/servants imprisoned rather than address their personal medical needs

Please show me where in my article I said anything about charging consumers criminally.

outside of the authorized/chartered "official" supply sources

There's a reason why these channels exist. The "Robin Hood" portrayal of illicit drug proprietors is silly when we know that terror groups and vicious gangs are often found operating illicit traffic. The health, safety and financial condition of the customer (read "victim") is the LAST thing on their mind. It's all about the money.

Unless you're an employee or lobbyist for Big Pharma

Actually Big Pharma has stayed far far away from this issue.

it's quizzical why you'd get so puffed up to the point of beating on needy sick

No, beating on international drug rings run by organized crime who also have their hands in other illicit traffic.

We're from the government... We're here to help you... Bill Butkiewicz  –  May 05, 2010 8:17 PM PDT

Garth: I can't help feeling that on this issue you're essentially an uninvited guest (busy-body) at the table. You're not a party to these private/personal transactions (pill purchases via extra-national sources aided by the net) at all… so who are you (or others of your opinion) to be standing on a hill and blowing a horn that these private encounters need to be restricted/controlled/outlawed, etc ?

It seems that you're in a huff over what is essentially a victim-less "crime".  At a minimum, the absence of genuine victims here (not your theoretical/prospective victims that society needs to "protect" against themselves) suggests your actions aren't to protect these make-believe victims, but to instead protect the state-chartered monopolies (as in restraint of trade) of the various establishment pharmacist guilds you've rustled up in your support.

I don't personally believe-in/prescribe-to any establishment pharmaceuticals (I'm into holistic/natural therapeutics… all of these (official & otherwise) pharma pills are krap & poison in my book!), so I'd never be a customer of these odd sellers (or the local "licensed" guys selling the "authentic" versions of these pills). It's essential for me to stand up for the free-market/free-trade rights of these affected consumers because after the people of your ilk get them (excuse me… get their suppliers), you're surely going to be gunning for the likes of my herbs & homeopathy remedies that also don't meet your (and the establishment-pharmacist guilds') standards of permissible therapeutics.

If a consumer of one of these off-shore pharmacies got ripped off, or hurt by a defective product, chances are very big that the net would hear about this quickly (after all, it's safe to assume that many/most online customers of these companies are net savvy enough to let the world know of any such prospective serious transgressions). The fact you raise about this EvaPharmacy being so significantly successful suggests strongly that their customers are happy, are repeat customers, and likely spread the word and let their friends know about it too. This hardly seems a profile of the sort of victim you're so rapturous to protect!

We can suppose that these sorts of shops exist because there are customers… that (apparently) can't get these needs fulfilled anyway else.

They can't get them filled because they don't have a prescription or a legitimate need to take copious amounts of Soma, Hydrocodone or Vicodin.

You likely (more accurately) mean "any amount", not just "copious amounts", right? In my circle of accountable adults that consciously look after their own health needs, we don't need (or often seek) "professional, licensed, board-certified" persons to figure out what we need for therapeutic purposes.  I strongly assert my right to control & maintain this therapeutic independence. It's possible (probable) that there are many people who believe in establishment-pharmaceuticals who would assert this same degree of personal independence (to determine these things for themselves without the "permission" of your state-coddled official monopolists).

You equate these off-shore pharmacies with terror groups, gangs, international drug rings, organized crime: I doubt any such groups are involved at all in any of these big/successful off-shore pharmacies you've mentioned quantified somewhere… but if they are, this is a very positive sign that these groups have "turned a corner", have abandoned their old anti-social troublesome ways, and are now productively busy providing society a good & useful service that is appreciated and patronized by many happy customers the world over.

The various registrars (you've been picking on to hassle these successful off-shore pharmacies) that are not responding to your petitions probably have a legal type who quickly dismissed your complaints on trans-national jurisdictional grounds… or as Bartlet suggested, on more local "civil/criminal/agency" jurisdictional grounds.  I'm impressed with the good/decent business sense of all registrars that resist your meddlesome attempts to interfere with the personal business of responsible consenting adults… here in the US and everywhere.

Your attitudes and activities, though apparently well-intended in some incomprehensible manner, need to be resisted (and pushed back) by all self-health-conscious free individuals the world over.  Thank you for explicitly identifying these good & bad registrars involved in this issue… now I have a better idea of which registrars to support & which to avoid.

if you can’t dispute the facts, attack the author Garth Bruen  –  May 11, 2010 7:01 AM PDT

Who appointed you the judge, jury and executioner?

- George Kirikos, PhD

Or is that simply to overblow this tirade

- Suresh, my favorite critic

Garth: I can't help feeling that on this issue you're essentially an uninvited guest (busy-body) at the table.

- Butkiewicz, open Rx guy

Your energy would be better directed towards the direction of the institutions set up to deal these problems

Thomas Barrett, Registrar

It never ceases to amaze me how many of you try to initiate a discussion by starting with the declaration that the author has no standing to discuss the issue. But this is a typical dodge strategy: if you can’t dispute the data or debate the facts, attack the author.

Not a Ph.D., yet George Kirikos  –  May 11, 2010 7:20 AM PDT

Just for the record, I'm not a Ph.D. (yet!). I completed all the coursework, but never did a dissertation as I got distracted by business ventures. Perhaps one day I'll go back and finish it up.

And, this wasn't a typical "dodge strategy" or "ad hominem" — it's good advice, that you're approaching the problem incorrectly. If my toilet is clogged, I don't call my dentist, I call a plumber.

Saying below (comment #12) that you've been "doing it free for many years" is an attempt to build sympathy, and also to lower expectations (i.e. if you're doing something for "free", the implication is that one can't do it "right"). You don't need a billion dollars or an army of lawyers to do what Microsoft did. Also, if you're doing something "free", you might seem more credible if you removed the banner ads from Knujon.com. :)

Once again not discussing the issue Garth Bruen  –  May 11, 2010 7:28 AM PDT

Registrars can keep accepting payments from drug dealers, but I can't have banner ads. Once again, attacking me, not discussing the issue.

Canadian Health Care Mall Kevin James  –  Nov 23, 2011 5:18 PM PDT

I get 50 to 100 spams a day from Canadian Health Care Mall, and at least 10 calls a week all times day and night, I am on the do not call list. Do they really think I will ever buy anything from them, I have been sending there spam to Spam Cop and KnujOn for two years but if anything they have got worst, atth point now of giving up, because nothing is improving.

Disingenuous and specious to argue that criminals serve a noble social purpose! Alvaro Degives-Mas  –  May 16, 2010 6:39 PM PDT

Let's be clear here: yes, there's a massive problem of accessibility of adequate and affordable health care in the USA. However, that's what the combined governmental bodies of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary have to deal with, guided by the sovereign will of We, the People. To attempt and portray international criminal organizations as an acceptable stopgap "solution" (whether out of necessity or out of some byzantine extreme libertarian or anarchistic POV) is, quite simply put, to step outside the law and to spit on the Constitution of the United States.

So, I firmly cast aside your argument in favor of leniency (if not outright exoneration) of criminals who operate on a world wide scale. They should be subject to criminal prosecution, without exception, and their criminal enterprises taken down. They clog up legitimate and essential communication services of email (not to mention the scores of assorted other and related crimes, e.g. hacking, botnet terrorism, etc.) It is preposterous that their worldwide misdeeds should be pardoned, just on account of a local problem in one particular country that has its answer in the sovereign hands of the US citizens themselves. It is all the more a ridiculous plea, as it operates on sheer faith: of them not poisoning and perhaps even killing unsuspecting souls, again: anywhere on this planet.

It's "quizzical" indeed that you appear to argue in favor of overlooking a problem of pandemic proportions - of which spam is but a fraction - and thus of a blind and harmful exposure of the global public to naturally unaccountable criminals, who gladly rake in their criminal proceeds. If you truly care a iota for the "needy sick" you'd do much wiser and better by doing two things: support the effort to track down, document, catch, prosecute, and punish the rampant scourge of internet criminals, and moreover, have a little more compassion for the less advantaged in society than throwing them at the self-serving "mercy" of hordes of ruthless criminals out there. Much less so, to additionally insult the "needy sick" of the world by distracting from a very different and localized problem.

Shame on you for doing so, Bill Butkiewicz!

OK - a specific issue with one registrar acting or not acting on what you are sending them Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  May 05, 2010 1:02 AM PDT

Where from did the plural come in there - "registrars"?

Or is that simply to overblow this tirade a little more than it already is?

Suresh, Hello! Garth Bruen  –  May 05, 2010 3:28 PM PDT

Where from did the plural come in there - "registrars"?

Good Question! UK2Group, Moniker, CentroHost and Realtime Register are also sponsors of EvaPharmacy domains. eNom (DemandMedia) had the most sites and did the least to address the problem.

Or is that simply to overblow this tirade a little more than it already is?

If a brief article with every fact documented, with the topic being poignant and industry-critical, is your definition of overblown, I don't really know how to make you happy.

But I do always love your questions Suresh

Title typo: should be "When Law Enforcement looks the other way..." Thomas Barrett  –  May 05, 2010 11:05 AM PDT

Enforcing the law is the job of law enforcement and the judicial system.  Your energy would be better directed towards the direction of the institutions set up to deal these problems rather trying to circumvent them and have ICANN registrars act as police, judge and jury.

Tom Barrett
EnCirca

Title typo: should be "When Registrars keep telling me to shut up..." Garth Bruen  –  May 05, 2010 3:44 PM PDT

Thomas,

As a Registrar yourself you should know that many of these issues are matter of contract between you and ICANN. The illegality of certain activities falls under obligations of the Registrar as well as law enforcement.

In studying the article in detail one would see that the proper enforcement agencies have been involved from the beginning. State and Provincial pharmacy boards ARE the enforcement for pharmacy. In this case the enforcement body contacted eNom (DemandMedia) and they didn't comply.

and have ICANN registrars act as police, judge and jury

But there's the rub, this structure exists to resolve these issues. ICANN is the first, not the last entry point. The correct institutions, as you say, have been notified.

Additionally, the idea that I am trying to circumvent the law is outrageous and ill-informed.

State and Provincial pharmacy boards ARE the George Kirikos  –  May 05, 2010 4:55 PM PDT

State and Provincial pharmacy boards ARE the enforcement for pharmacy. In this case the enforcement body contacted eNom (DemandMedia) and they didn't comply.

If their efforts at "enforcement" stop at letters, then they are toothless. This is the reason why there are police and courts. If you're unable to convince the courts or police about your cause, why should a registrar listen? Who appointed you the judge, jury and executioner? I'm all for ending abuse, but there's a right way and a wrong way to do things.

When Microsoft wanted to kill a botnet, did they post a whining letter on their blog? No, they went to a federal judge and got a court order. Learn from Microsoft.

If you proactively want to reduce abuse, instead of playing whac-a-mole, you should support efforts at Verified WHOIS, which I've advocated for a long time.

Following Microsoft not an answer Garth Bruen  –  May 11, 2010 6:55 AM PDT

When Microsoft wanted to kill a botnet, did they post a whining letter on their blog? No, they went to a federal judge and got a court order. Learn from Microsoft.

Good advice. As soon as I have a billion dollars, an army of lawyers and the private numbers of federal judges in my Rolodex, I’ll follow Microsoft’s example. And, at that point I’ll just go after botnets threatening my business not ALL cybercrime as we’ve been doing for free for many years.

P.S. George Kirikos  –  May 05, 2010 5:02 PM PDT

P.S. Repeatedly calling registrars "sponsors" is a total misuse of the word "sponsor." Ask GoDaddy if they consider themselves a "sponsor" of Knujon.org, or NSI if they are a "sponsor" of sex.com. They're simply registrars.

"Sponsor" is the proper industry and contract term Garth Bruen  –  May 05, 2010 5:27 PM PDT

Repeatedly calling registrars "sponsors" is a total misuse of the word "sponsor."

From the ICANN RAA 2009 (http://www.icann.org/en/registrars/ra-agreement-21may09-en.htm)

1.16 A Registered Name is "sponsored" by the registrar…
3.12.2...sponsoring registrar or provide a means for identifying the sponsoring registrar…
3.12.3 Reseller shall identify the sponsoring registrar…
4.2.9 ...change in registrar sponsoring
4.2.8 ...registrars of the Registered Names sponsored…

Sponsor, sponsor, sponsor, sponsor, Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich, MALKOVICH!

Good point but... George Kirikos  –  May 05, 2010 7:46 PM PDT

Good point re: the word "sponsor" appearing in the RAA. Whoever drafted the RAA should consult a dictionary, as the lay definition of "sponsor" means something totally different than what they're trying to suggest in the contract. Typical ICANN lack of precision in drafting contracts. If one reads the RAA carefully, it appears the drafters simply wanted to avoid using the word "register" and used "sponsor" instead. They might want to use the word "catalog" and variations in the future, to be more precise.

If one wanted to be more precise, you said twice that the sites were sponsored, whereas at best it is the registered name that is "sponsored." I'm sure you'd agree that there's a big difference between a name (i.e. a "label") and the site (i.e. "content") associated with it.

Lay definition fits Garth Bruen  –  May 11, 2010 7:40 AM PDT

Whoever drafted the RAA should consult a dictionary, as the lay definition of "sponsor" means something totally different than what they're trying to suggest in the contract.

Actually the lay definition fits, from Webster's: "1. Someone who takes the responsibility for another person or thing." That thing being the association of a domain name with an IP address, which the registrants cannot do for themselves.

However, you could call it a banana if you wanted to as it moves away from the issue from the issue of contracted parties using their authority to support a massive criminal structure that poisons victims and funnels money to illicit parties.

More proof of this, beyond my work, is a recent article by Jart Armin:
Internet Drug Rings & Their 'Killer' Online Pharmacies

You heard of catching flies with honey rather than gall? Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  May 11, 2010 7:13 AM PDT

That and not tarring all registrars with the same brush, and knowing to distinguish between legitimate and rogue registrars?

Not that I can see, but always worth asking.

Clearly drew a line Garth Bruen  –  May 11, 2010 7:24 AM PDT

The article and report clearly drew a line between Registrars who did the right thing and ones that continued riding the gravy train. Read again.

How much honey I am supposed to offer a Registrar before they stop supporting the global illcit trade?

You don't seem to "get it." Just George Kirikos  –  May 11, 2010 9:55 AM PDT

You don't seem to "get it." Just because they're a registrar doesn't mean they "support" something.

If one followed your line of "reasoning" (if one could call it that) a drug dealer or a criminal who shops for groceries at Wal-Mart (i.e. "is kept alive by the food they ate) or bought a Big Mac at McDonald's is being somehow aided and abetted in their illicit activities by Wal-Mart and McDonald's. How dare Wal-Mart and McDonald's sell these guys anything! If you're not outraged, you should be! Boycott Wal-Mart and McDonald's, now! I've got the "proof" too!

The sooner you realize how silly this line of "reasoning" is, the sooner you'll change tactics and become more effective. If you've got "proof" of anything, hand it to the appropriate authorities (police, courts, etc.) and registrars would certainly comply. Support things like Verified WHOIS, which would proactively reduce abuse, too.

Oh, I get it Garth Bruen  –  May 12, 2010 6:41 AM PDT

I get it. You don't want me to talk about this.

You don't seem to "get it." Just because they're a registrar doesn't mean they "support" something.

When they get evidence and documentation and don't act, at that point they are supporting. Post notification, the blood is on their hands.

The sooner you realize how silly this line of "reasoning" is

Correct, the reasoning is silly, but the senario you've posted is YOUR reasoning, not mine.

Your "reasoning" consists of the following: "If George Kirikos  –  May 12, 2010 11:12 AM PDT

Your "reasoning" consists of the following: "If you're not with us, then you're against us." Or alternatively, "If you're not actively going to stop a certain abuse from happening, even when it's not your duty, then you must be a supporter." Most people are more sophisticated and see why the above is flawed.

It's simply not the registrar's job to respond to your alleged "proof" and "documentation" — they act when law enforcement gets involved, courts, etc. See above re: Microsoft. You could have equally titled this thread "When Obama Looks the Other Way, Drug-Dealers Get Paid" by simply emailing your "evidence" and "proof" to the US President at president@whitehouse.gov and waiting for nothing to happen (because he's not the appropriate person to have contacted).

More ad hominem and misdirection Garth Bruen  –  May 12, 2010 11:49 AM PDT

George,

You haven't refuted a single fact. Each time I refute one of your statements you go back to ad hominem.

Your "reasoning" consists of the following: "If you're not with us, then you're against us." Or alternatively, "If you're not actively going to stop a certain abuse from happening, even when it's not your duty, then you must be a supporter."

Not even close to my reasoning, this is all your ballyhoo in quotes. And, it is the Registrar's contractual duty.

Most people are more sophisticated and see why the above is flawed.

Claiming to speak for everyone? Also, this is not a matter of mass opinion but one of contractual compliance. Logical disconnect.

You could have equally titled this thread "When Obama Looks the Other Way, Drug-Dealers Get Paid"

Ludicrous, our President is not a Registrar.

You can keep attacking the author but you cannot unwrite what is written in the RAA and UDRP.

I hope you do better defending your PhD.

Now you've trapped yourself. You say above George Kirikos  –  May 12, 2010 12:13 PM PDT

Now you've trapped yourself. You say above "it's the registrar's contractual duty." There's a simple way for you to make your case. If you believe any registrar is not in compliance with the RAA, there's an ICANN compliance department that would love to hear from you.

http://www.icann.org/en/compliance/

Go ahead, file a complaint that a registrar has breached the RAA, and you can really "prove" yourself. Indeed, you can get a registrar terminated if they are in breach of the RAA. ICANN loves to terminate bad registrars. Go get 'em, tiger. You say you want to stop the bad guys — why aren't you terminating registrars, then? You must be a registrar supporter, because you're not terminating them....

[I have no idea how you're bringing up the UDRP, but good luck on that one.]

Feel free to respond *after* you terminate a registrar for being in breach of the RAA.  If ICANN does nothing, your next article can be titled "When ICANN Looks the Other Way, Drug-Dealers Get Paid."

Feel free to respond *after* you terminate Garth Bruen  –  May 12, 2010 12:29 PM PDT

Feel free to respond *after* you terminate a registrar

Oh, George, there you go placing conditions on my speech again. Tisk-tisk.

Now you've trapped yourself.

I know. I'm very clever, because I've gotten you to introduce the next series of articles. Now people are going to think you're conspiring with me.

I look forward to your sequel re: George Kirikos  –  May 12, 2010 12:42 PM PDT

I look forward to your sequel re: prostitution and ICANN.

"When ICANN Looks the Other Way, Johns Get Laid"

(yes, it rhymes, *takes a bow*)

Already did Garth Bruen  –  May 12, 2010 12:48 PM PDT

sequel re: prostitution

Did that last year, got some online prostitution rings shut down. But I give you marks for effort.

Must we use the term "Johns"? John Berryhill  –  May 13, 2010 7:38 AM PDT

I'm sure a few Georges have gotten laid.  (Clearly not enough Garths have)

Wow Garth Bruen  –  May 13, 2010 7:42 AM PDT

Are we back in Junior High School already? Pathetic.

Dear Garth,You appear to have good intent, Thomas Barrett  –  May 12, 2010 2:02 PM PDT

Dear Garth,

You appear to have good intent, but your energies are being wasted as it appears you are confused with the contractual duties of registrars.

Registrars have several contracts:
1. with icann
2. with registries
3. with customers

these contracts specify what registrars MUST do and what registrars MAY do.  The contracts with ICANN and Registries contain what the Registrar MUST do.
Your confusion appears to stem from reading the terms posted by registrars and thinking this also contains what registrars MUST do.  you are mistaken. 

think of this way:  we all know software piracy is rampant.  Software companies like microsoft have terms in their agreements that include penalties if you are caught using pirated software.  But does this obligate microsoft to actually enforce their agreement if someone brings it to your attention?  or, do they get to decide where and when they will pursue pirates?  The same issues exist for infringement, counterfeit goods and so on.

As George suggests, take a minute to read the ICANN RAA to understand what Registrars MUST do. and don't get confused by what they MAY do.

best regards,

Tom Barrett
EnCirca

Re-reading RAA and Garth Bruen  –  May 13, 2010 6:58 AM PDT

Tom,

As George suggests, take a minute to read the ICANN RAA to understand what Registrars MUST do.

I did read it, maybe you should re-read it. As for George, he was unaware of the usage of “sponsor” in the RAA so I don’t think he’s a good example.

Section 3.7.2 reads: “Registrar SHALL abide by applicable laws and governmental regulations.”

Not “may”, “shall”

In all the RAA uses the word SHALL 178 times and uses MAY only 41 times. Where "shall" is a legal term that binds the Registrar to oblige. Contracts are not usually written to give the parties the ability to choose which terms they abide by since it makes the contract pointless. “Must” expresses a requirement or duty to act and does not apply in the cited sections, whereas "shall" imposes a duty to act and is the language used in this case.

think of this way: we all know software piracy is rampant.

Fallacious comparison, people don’t put MS Office into their bodies. The public health risk posed by Registrar sponsored illicit drug traffic is unlike any other problem in cyber security today. Piracy is rampant but does not represent 80-90% of the problem the way that rogue Internet pharmacy does. Your argument also fails because you put the manufacturer as the complainant which is not the case here. In this case the designated authorities contacted eNom about fraud conducted by their customers and eNom did not act and this lead to further illegality and threat to public health.

While this may be something Registrars don’t want to acknowledge it is a steaming locomotive. I still contend this is a material breach and could lead to eNom’s de-accreditation.

Your confusion appears to stem from reading the terms posted by registrars and thinking this also contains what registrars MUST do.

No, this is your confused reading of the article. I don’t mention Registrar TOS or AUP. I mostly discuss RAA and pharmacy regulation.

Tom, you are mistaken.

-Garth

Registrar terminations Bob Bruen  –  May 13, 2010 7:27 AM PDT

George Kirikos wrote:
"Feel free to respond *after* you terminate a registrar for being in breach of the RAA"

As an FYI, KnujOn has been involved, along with others, in several registrar terminations. In fact if you look at the first Top Ten Worst Registrars list that KnujOn published, only one is still on the list, eNom. The others have either been terminated or have complied with the RAA. One, Xin Net, was shuttered by the government of China not by ICANN.

Termination is not the only option. Compliance with the RAA is a good option as well.
Any registrar that is not in compliance should be concerned that they could be handed a breach notice by ICANN.

You seemed to have lost sight of the fact that KnujOn's efforts are aimed at cleanup, not simply hassling registrars or anyone else.

--bob (from KnujOn)

lol That's really funny, Bob. "The others George Kirikos  –  May 13, 2010 8:08 AM PDT

lol That's really funny, Bob. "The others have either been terminated or have complied with the RAA."

It's doubtful any of them were terminated for activities of their registrant clients, but instead for unrelated issues (e.g. non-payment, etc.). If eNom is "so bad" and are in breach of the RAA, as you imply, why hasn't ICANN shut them down? They're either in breach, or they're not. It doesn't seem to resonate with you that they might in fact fully be in compliance with their obligations, and for that reason have not been terminated.

As your son seems focused on one line in the RAA, namely "“Registrar SHALL abide by applicable laws and governmental regulations.” why don't you name a single law or government regulation that eNom has violated? And, furthermore, if they've broken the law, why are you posting on the internet, instead of getting on the phone with the police?

Your son wrote "In this case the designated authorities contacted eNom about fraud conducted by their customers and eNom did not act and this lead to further illegality and threat to public health."

I highlighted the important parts. Note the alleged fraud has been conducted by the customers. What crime has eNom committed? None that I can see. Except that you're suggesting that because "eNom did not act", that failure to act in itself is either:

(A) illegal
(B) legal, but still "bad"

So, which one is it? If it's A, name the law they've broken (and take it up with the police who would be happy to charge them with something; when they're found guilty, ICANN would revoke their accreditation). If it's B, say so. There are no other options.

Finally getting to the point Garth Bruen  –  May 13, 2010 8:33 AM PDT

George,

I suggest you start with the following release from ICANN:
"Worst Spam Offenders" Notified by ICANN

As your son seems focused on one line in the RAA, namely "“Registrar SHALL abide by applicable laws and governmental regulations.” why don't you name a single law or government regulation that eNom has violated?

George, this is the crux of the article you've missed. But we shall state it again. eNom received official notice from the NABP which is the overseeing body for the United States pharmacy regulatory and licensing jurisdictions, which includes Washington State(where eNom is located) and California(where DemandMedia, eNom's parent company is located). This notice indicated to eNom that LegitScript has approval to declare

This also shows a fundamental flaw in all of your responses so far. This isn't about KnujOn and our authority. We are REPORTING the facts surrounding notices issued to eNom by the NABP, the Pharmacy Board of Manitoba, the Pharmacy Board of Minnesota, the Pharmacy Board of Ontario, the Pharmacy Board of Quebec, and the Pharmacy Board of Texas. This is where the "regulation" portion of the RAA clause comes in. These bodies are REGULATORY ones.

I highlighted the important parts. Note the alleged fraud has been conducted by the customers.

Yup, and by extension, once eNom has been properly notified and does not correct the situation they become a party to the problem.

-Garth

Funny Bob Bruen  –  May 13, 2010 8:41 AM PDT

George,

You really should check your facts before you spout off. It shows just how foolish you are, like not knowing the use of the word "sponsor." You are not alone, as in the question about the use of the plural in referencing multiple registrars. It's just how the language works, nothing to do with us.

For example, estDomains probably does not see any humour in being terminated by ICANN for the criminal behaviour of there head guy, a clear violation of the RAA.

Other registrars were issued, or were threatened with, a breach notice by ICANN, which indeed led them to behave properly. And yes, there have been breach notices due to non-payment, etc, as well. You can review the breach notices over the past few years at ICANN's web site.

As to why ICANN has not terminated eNom, we wonder the same thing. I expect that when we look back a year from now, that question would have been answered. ICANN has required prodding on occasion to do what it should do. So far, they have responded, just not a quickly as we would like.

You also demonstrate a clear ignorance of law. It is not all black and white. I am sure you do not see any crime committed by eNom (and others) because you do not want to. The reason we publish is to make people aware of such problems.

For example, if you receive stolen goods, you are violating the law even if you did not steal the goods. If a business takes money acquired from a criminal act, that business is in violation of the law. The RICO Act could apply here.

The registrars who *knowingly* take money from a criminal enterprise are risking a visit from law enforcement. Just because it hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it won't. You must be aware of the adage "past performance does not predict future performance." Law enforcement may be slow sometimes, but eventually they catch up.

--bob

haha Funny, Bob. "I am sure you George Kirikos  –  May 13, 2010 9:05 AM PDT

haha Funny, Bob. "I am sure you do not see any crime committed by eNom (and others) because you do not want to." Do you actually think I'm a *fan* of either eNom or VeriSign? You've not paid attention to ICANN issues over the past, oh, 6 or 7 years, then (check who owns VeriSignSucks.com).

Re-read comment #35:

If your reply doesn't choose "A" or "B", I'll assume you mean "B", by the way. Legal, but "bad" in your eyes. Fortunately, the law protects people who others might consider to be "bad", as long as what they're doing is not illegal.

If eNom is "breaking the law", then you can use the identical arguments against VeriSign. Go right ahead, try it, and I'm sure VeriSign will be laughing at you, until you actually follow the proper procedure and get the relevant court order.

This debate isn't about defending any bad actors, it's about the right and wrong way to approach it, and that's what you're missing completely.

ha ha Bob Bruen  –  May 13, 2010 9:43 AM PDT

George,

Please think before you write.

George:
"Do you actually think I'm a *fan* of either eNom or VeriSign?"

You still seem to be unable to distinguish between different ideas. My suggestion that you do not want to see a crime, does not imply that you are fan of the criminal. I support the right of free speech for people I disagree with. I do not allow for free speech for only those people I agree with.  These are separate concepts.

George:
"If eNom is "breaking the law", then you can use the identical arguments against VeriSign."

Not true. Verisign is a registry. eNom is a registrar. Different entities, different rules.

George:
"This debate isn't about defending any bad actors, it's about the right and wrong way to approach it, and that's what you're missing completely"

Actually it is about bad actors. We are using the right way, even if you don't like it. You are merely trying have us go down a slow and expensive path to accomplish what we can do using sunshine and existing rules (contracts are part of the legal process, though). There is nothing in your statements that show our path is the wrong path. I think you are fearful that we will be successful and hope that we will stop.

You need to do better.

--bob

Not true. Verisign is a registry. eNom George Kirikos  –  May 13, 2010 10:29 AM PDT

Not true. Verisign is a registry. eNom is a registrar. Different entities, different rules.

Wrong again. Both are US companies, subject to US laws. While their ICANN rules are different, they both must comply with US law.

We are using the right way, even if you don't like it.

You might think so, but here's why it's not the right way — it creates no legal precedents. Getting a registrar to informally takedown a site using "moral suasion" or the threat to their "reputation" isn't going to stop anyone who doesn't care what you "think." By actually doing it the right way, like Microsoft did, it actually creates a strong precedent. Strong precedents lead to things becoming routine, low cost, and very effective. They become like a factory assembly line, and are very predictable. Trying to "shame" someone to get them to do what you want doesn't work at all if folks have no shame. Courts compel someone to do something. There's a big difference, the "must" vs. "may" as discussed above.

Your emphasis is on "name and shame", not creating strong legal precedents that others can rely upon. That's the difference between us. I want things to be strong in law, backed by law, whereas you simply want things to be ad hoc.

You might want to broaden your horizons, and view "A Man For All Seasons" (the movie or play). In it, there's an exchange that's enlightening:

"William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

This is why there's a principle of "due process" and why a registrar would be well served to insist upon a court order, etc. It's the law that matters, though the courts.

legal precedents Bob Bruen  –  May 13, 2010 10:56 AM PDT

George,

George:
"You might think so, but here's why it's not the right way—it creates no legal precedents."

That's it? We are not creating legal precedents? Wow, I was not prepared for that curve ball.

We do not have to create legal precedents, we are are not using the court system. We also think the precedents already exist for what we want.

We have had significant success so far, without the courts. Again, this does not mean we will not use them in the future, but for now, they are not required. Public pressure has worked. If you read the latest report, you will see that a number of registrars are cooperative, some who were not in the past. Their public image does matter to them, as it should.

We are down to just a few registrars who choose to fight against doing the right thing. Perhaps it will take court involvement and legal precedents for these few to behave properly. I hope not.

What you are calling ad hoc is in fact based in contracts and regulation. All our research has been through due diligence. We are supported by national bodies that matter. Not exactly ad hoc. You are dismissing a large set of rules and rule makers, not the best approach.

Thanks for clarifying your position. We can all go home now.

--bob

Your link to the ICANN article about George Kirikos  –  May 13, 2010 8:59 AM PDT

Your link to the ICANN article about "Worst Spam Offenders" proved my point, not yours. In particular, the "crux" was the violation of WHOIS accuracy requirements. This had absolutely nothing to do about the use of the relevant domains. ICANN went out of the way to emphasize that "A distinction must be made between registrars and an end user who chooses to use a particular domain name for illegitimate purposes." but I guess you missed that.

Once again, I offer you a chance to answer the question above, in comment #32:

(A) illegal
(B) legal, but still "bad"

Go ahead, pick one. Don't dance around and say "by extension....they become a party to the problem". It's either one or the other. By not making the choice, you're implying that it can't be "A" (i.e. you don't want to defame eNom, who would go after you), but just can't bring yourself to admit it's "B".

If you summon the courage to declare "A", that it's "illegal", then those regulatory bodies presumably have authority to penalize eNom, or can escalate into the courts. i.e. there's a very natural progression, a right way and a wrong way to handle things. eNom might very well be within its rights to completely ignore those "notices", until they've received an appropriate court order, etc. (i.e. like the Microsoft case; it's not like VeriSign would simply remove the names from the .com zone file; they need a court order, just like eNom does). Why hasn't LegalScript gone to court?

You said that you don't have "billion dollars" or "an army of lawyers" like Microsoft, however are you actually trying to convince people that the proper regulators, i.e. LegalScript, NABP, etc., don't have resources and lawyers to take eNom to court, if eNom is actually doing something illegal? It's not like eNom is hiding out with Osama, it's trivial to serve eNom with papers.

By the way, the same arguments you're implying about "official notice" could also apply to VeriSign. They're in the US jurisdiction. While there's nothing in the ICANN-VeriSign agreement that forces them to remove a site from .com, or comply with US laws, etc., they're still a US corporation that must follow the laws. Why didn't NABP or LegalScript or all these other bodies send a notice to VeriSign? And why would VeriSign be any less guilty than eNom, in your view, if they just ignored them? VeriSign wouldn't be in breach of the RAA or any ICANN agreement, but in the eyes of the law, since they have the power to remove a domain from the .com zone file, aren't they just as "guilty" as eNom would be, if they ignored these "notices" that you speak of?

If your reply doesn't choose "A" or "B", I'll assume you mean "B", by the way. Legal, but "bad" in your eyes. Fortunately, the law protects people who others might consider to be "bad", as long as what they're doing is not illegal.

Think before writing Bob Bruen  –  May 13, 2010 9:27 AM PDT

George,

Again I encourage you to check facts and think before writing in public: whois data accuracy is part of the RAA. We used that section to complain about domains that were in violation of it. We also compiled statistics to show which registrars were the cause of the problems. We found that of the approximately 900 world-wide registrars, only about 20 or so were bad actors, responsible for the vast majority of spam. Most registrars were okay. We have not attacked the registrar industry, just reported those who were problems - the ones you are defending.

We do not fall for the false choice trick, so may stop wasting time on tying to get me to pick A or B. You may like binary choices, but the real world is more complicated than that. Bringing up my "courage" to fall for your trick is just another trick which does not work.

George:
"however are you actually trying to convince people that the proper regulators,i.e. LegalScript, NABP, etc., don't have resources and lawyers to take eNom to court, if eNom is actually doing something illegal?"

We implied nothing of the kind. You just made that up. They will decide how and when they use their resources.

George:
"Why hasn't LegalScript gone to court?"

It's expensive and slow, but it does not mean it won't happen in the future.

George:
"Why didn't NABP or LegalScript or all these other bodies send a notice to VeriSign?"

Verisign is not a registrar, they are a registry. Perhaps you have given us a good idea, maybe if eNom does not shape up, we will ask Verisign to pull the plug on them.

George:
"If your reply doesn't choose "A" or "B", I'll assume you mean "B", by the way."

This is what I am talking about. You are just making things up instead of trying to use facts and logical arguments to make your point. I assume that you do not have a point, so this is the best you can do.

btw, I got my PhD 15 years ago. It's not really that big of a deal.

--bob

Again,whois data accuracy is part of the George Kirikos  –  May 13, 2010 9:51 AM PDT

Again,

whois data accuracy is part of the RAA.

No one is arguing that it isn't. WHOIS accuracy is a registrar obligation. The due process (procedures involved) in policing the behaviour of their users is what we're debating, and you seemed to miss that.

You can spend all the paragraphs you want trying to avoid the question about whether eNom is doing something illegal, or whether they're not doing something illegal. It's a simple choice, and not a false choice.

maybe if eNom does not shape up, we will ask Verisign to pull the plug on them

And what exactly is stopping you from asking them? You don't need an "army of laywers" to send them a letter or an email. Don't expect any reply, though, except a referral to ICANN or a court. i.e. VeriSign will insist upon proper procedures too. Try to say proper procedures a thousand times, as that's what the last 40 comments were about. No one is standing up for spammers, abusers, etc. It's all about the right way and the wrong way, i.e. the procedures.

btw, I got my PhD 15 years ago. It's not really that big of a deal.

No kidding. But, it would be nice to finish what one started (finishing it at the time would have meant ignoring some big business opportunities, and would have meant a loss of wealth, so I made the right decision at the time, and in hindsight).

proper procedure Bob Bruen  –  May 13, 2010 10:25 AM PDT

George,

I have missed nothing. Either you do not understand this or you think that I don't understand this. You are not the first to try to stop us by crying abut how we do not use the courts to fight our battles. And you probably will not be the last. Our experience leads us to believe that those who argue as you do have a vested interest in keeping the status quo, which is not going to happen. We are a wake up call for registrars which believe they are beyond the law or do not have to follow the RAA.

You still have not made an argument as to why our approach is not proper procedure. There a number of proper mechanisms to achieve our goal, the legal approach is just one. Our approach is proper - we are not violating the law and are using existing rules and procedures. We especially like sunshine. So far all you have said is that we should go through the courts, as though that were the only route. It is not.

--bob

Our experience leads us to believe that George Kirikos  –  May 13, 2010 10:45 AM PDT
Our experience leads us to believe that those who argue as you do have a vested interest in keeping the status quo

Once again, you've not been paying attention. You can wordsmith all you like, but the implication is clear. If I had an interest in the "status quo", why would I be so actively trying to change things, having things like Verified WHOIS, etc.? We all want to end abuse, we differ on the means. Verified WHOIS would be far more effective than these ad hoc "name and shame" games.

As to your approach being "proper procedure or not"? Anyone can send anything they want to ICANN. Go read the volumes sent by Jeff Williams, for amusement. He's not "violating the law" either. As I mentioned before, one can play whac-a-mole all day long, but it's not going to lead to real change like Verified WHOIS or other solutions.

Where you would be doing something improper would be if you falsely claimed that eNom was breaking the law, as I'm sure they would have no problem suing you if that was their choice. Notice you refuse to state clearly whether anything they are doing is illegal. Innuendo and "sunshine" can only get you so far. It's laws, compelling people to shut down sites (like Microsoft compelled VeriSign to act, once they obtained the court order) that leads to predictable processes.

Which took longer, your crusade against eNom (and other registrars) which has been going on for how long now, or Microsoft simply walking into a courtroom and getting the job done in a few hours or days. Simple, effective, predictable.

Both Garth Bruen  –  May 13, 2010 9:14 AM PDT

George,

A thing can be both A and B, just as something illegal is also illicit and something clearly illicit may also be illegal upon inspection. This is the inspection, not the trial. As you say there's a very natural progression which comes with time.

eNom might very well be within its rights to completely ignore those "notices", until they've received an appropriate court order, etc

They don't need a court order, this has already been determined by the eleven other Registrars.

And why would VeriSign be any less guilty than eNom

Because eNom sold and holds the name, as spelled out in the RAA they are the sponsor. Does Verisign cherry-pick domains to remove from the root?

haha Garth. Go back and read what George Kirikos  –  May 13, 2010 9:40 AM PDT

haha Garth. Go back and read what the choices were, they were clearly:

(A) illegal
(B) legal, but still "bad"

Now you're trying say that something was both "illegal" and legal??!!?? I give up trying to convince you of anything, but I hope others reading have found this entertaining.

They don't need a court order, this has already been determined by the eleven other Registrars.

As others tried to explain to you, there's a difference between a "duty" (an obligation, a "must"), compared to an "option" (a "may). Citing examples where people made a certain choice doesn't mean that a party can't insist that you follow a proper procedure, and get a court order, etc.

VeriSign has the ability to remove names from the dot-com zone file (note there's a difference between the "root" and the .com zone file). They are certainly more capable of removing a name then eNom, as they are the ultimate authoritative resolution for the domain. You're misusing the word "sponsor" again (in the dictionary meaning, as opposed to ICANN's limited meaning).

If we use the Yellow Pages analogy, eNom would be like an agent/broker, who took an order from someone to buy an ad. The ad gets published in the Yellow Pages. You're going after the agent/broker, who might have the ability to remove the ad from the Yellow Pages (upon proper court authority). But the actual person who published the ad is the Yellow Pages. Now, VeriSign would be, as publisher and resolver of the dot-com zone file, much closer to the action. They're like the publisher of the Yellow Pages, where the ads are actually appearing. They certainly have the technical ability to remove anything from the .com zone file, as was demonstrated by the Microsoft example, when a court ordered them to do exactly that. Indeed, VeriSign can remove a domain name from the .com zone file over the objections of a registrar. Certainly, if VeriSign has actually more power to remove the domain than eNom, i.e. "more power to help you stop the bad guys", but does nothing to help you, certainly by your argument, they're even more guilty than eNom?

Let's go back to the previous "If you're not with us, then you're against us." Or alternatively, "If you're not actively going to stop a certain abuse from happening, even when it's not your duty, then you must be a supporter."

If Switzerland, a tiny country, stays neutral in some dispute, in your eyes they are guilty. If China or the USA stayed neutral, they'd be even more guilty, because they are much bigger, stronger, and more able to stop something from happening. If VeriSign is so much more powerful than eNom and other little registrars, why aren't you considering them more guilty and bring them into your crusade? If you tried, you'd quickly see that they'd insist upon the proper procedure. Exactly my point, and those of others like Tom. Q.E.D.

haha Garth. Go back and read what Garth Bruen  –  May 13, 2010 10:21 AM PDT

haha Garth. Go back and read what the choices were, they were clearly:

Haha George. Remember we've already talked about your putting conditions on my speech. Furthermore, everything is legal until you get caught.

Now you're trying say that something was both "illegal" and legal??!!??

Never said it.

The rest of your statements are off-topic, tangential, and irrelevant.

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