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Domain Name Seizures - Looking Before Leaping

January 29, 2013

Domain names seizures have created collateral damage in some instances - damage than can perhaps be avoided with a little forethought.

In February last year, a U.S. company's domain name was temporarily and incorrectly suspended by a US government agency; apparently due to the activities of a single user. 

With services disrupted for many thousands of users, the situation could have sent the company broke - but thankfully, over 24 hours after the incident began service was restored and during the event the company made use of another domain name to direct users to.

While uncommon, this isn't the only instance of collateral damage as a result of a domain name seizure.

The Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) have recently published a guide for agencies to refer to when considering a domain name seizure to perhaps help avoid similar incidents.

Points for consideration include:

- Check whether the action will disrupt name service for other reputable domains.

- Check whether the action will disrupt hosting services for parties other than those named in the order.
- Check what services other than web will be affected
- Check whether reputable naming services such as URL shorteners will be affected
- Check for interference (other investigations).

Each of the above points is explained in detail along with additional advice for agencies in "The Value of Assessing Collateral Damage Before Requesting a Domain Seizure"; which can be viewed in full here (PDF).

"Assessing how you will manage the consequences of these actions could mean the difference between having a popular and successful outcome or an adverse one," says ICANN.

Besides providing technical operations of the Internet's crucial Domain Name System (DNS) resources, ICANN also develops policies for how the "names and numbers" of the Internet should operate.

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