Spamhaus risks losing .org domain name
By Steve Malone
Posted on 11 Oct 2006 at 10:32
Leading anti-spam operation, Spamhaus is threatened with losing its domain name, which would effectively put it out of business. The challenge comes from a company that says that blacklisting by Spamhaus had caused it lost business and jobs.
In September an Illinois court awarded e360 Insight damages against Spamhaus to the tune of $11,715,000 and a permanent injunction to prevent Spamhaus from blacklisting the firm in the future.
Spamhaus did not turn up in court to defend the action as it believed that, being a UK company, it was beyond US jurisdiction and had no assets in the United States that could be seized. This meant that e360 Insight won be default. Lawyers for e360 Insight have now gone back to the court to have the order enforced by seizing the only asset Spamhaus has in the US.
Spamhaus had overlooked the fact that its .org domain is registered with ICANN, which is still, if only nominally, under the jurisdiction of the US government. If ICANN were ordered by a US judge to suspend Spamhaus's domain, it would have little choice but to comply.
The antispam organisation has now woken up to the threat to its business and has hired a team of lawyers to fight the lawsuit. e360 Insight insists that it is not a spam operation and that Spamhaus should remove the company from its blacklist.
The consequences for the Internet of the seizure would be enormous. Spamhaus claims that any such move would release a flood of spam onto the Internet. The Spamhaus blacklist is used to filter an estimated 50 billion spam emails per day.
However, the consequences may even go beyond mailboxes filling up with promises of increased sexual performance and cheap loans. Already many governments around the world believe that ICANN is a tool of the US government and should be under international control. Any US court order forcing ICANN to bend to its will is likely to be seen as proof.
Any such judgment is also likely to unleash a flood of applications by aggrieved plaintiffs to seize the domain names of companies in order to damage their businesses.
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