ICANN Urged To Crack Down On Registrars

National Journal
The head of a company aimed at ensuring the legitimacy of online pharmacies said Tuesday that the group that manages the Internet’s address system is not doing enough to crack down on firms that sell Internet address registrations to Web sites that offer fake or stolen drugs without a prescription.

During a discussion on how to implement the recommendations included in the Obama administration’s Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement, LegitScript PresidentJohn Horton and others talked about the importance of getting those involved in the infrastructure of the Internet to help crack down on those who provide pirated or counterfeit products. Horton pointed in particular to the role that registrars, the firms that sell Internet domain name registrations, can play in protecting intellectual property.

Horton in particular called on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which manages the Internet’s domain name system, to crack down on registrars that violate their accreditation agreements with ICANN, which bars domain names from being used for illegal activities. Citing a recent report from an Internet security research company called KnujOn.com, Horton claimed some registrars have become safe havens for rogue online pharmacies. “Without their [registrars] sponsorship of the illicit transaction structure, the problem would not exist,” the report said.

An ICANN spokesman did not have an immediate response to a request for comment.

Horton noted that Google, Microsoft and Yahoo now require that online pharmacies that want to advertise with them to be accredited by a program run by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

Horton said such cooperation “highlights the importance of continuing down that road in encouraging domain name registrars …, ISPs [Internet service providers] and other companies and say look in all these areas related to intellectual property, in my area rogue Internet pharmacies, there is no reason to knowingly facilitate criminal activity including activity that violates intellectual property. Those are the choke points of the Internet.”

Mark Esper, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center, said he thinks search engines, ISPs and others “want to do the right thing.” He added that it is up to the IP community and others to work with Internet intermediaries to find a “commercially reasonable way” to help curb Internet piracy and counterfeiting.

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