Facebook is suing the popular registrar Namecheap alleging it is “Protecting People from Domain Name Fraud“.
This week we filed a lawsuit in Arizona against Namecheap, a domain name registrar, as well as its proxy service, Whoisguard, for registering domain names that aim to deceive people by pretending to be affiliated with Facebook apps. These domain names can trick people into believing they are legitimate and are often used for phishing, fraud and scams.
We regularly scan for domain names and apps that infringe our trademarks to protect people from abuse. We found that Namecheap’s proxy service, Whoisguard, registered or used 45 domain names that impersonated Facebook and our services, such as instagrambusinesshelp.com, facebo0k-login.com and whatsappdownload.site. We sent notices to Whoisguard between October 2018 and February 2020, and despite their obligation to provide information about these infringing domain names, they declined to cooperate.
We don’t want people to be deceived by these web addresses, so we’ve taken legal action. We filed a similar lawsuit in October 2019 against OnlineNIC, another domain registrar, and its proxy service. Our goal is to create consequences for those who seek to do harm and we will continue to take legal action to protect people from domain name fraud and abuse.
While the domains were registered AT Namecheap, the domains were not actually registered BY Whoisguard. One of more people over one and a half years registered 45 domains and used whois proxy services just like they do at any other ICANN accredited registrar.
Facebook believes that Namecheap has the “obligation” to provide the registrants information but that is only true after a UDRP or a court order.
Meanwhile large companies such as Facebook are trying to take advantage of GDPR and achieve (with the help of ICANN) the opposite of what GDPR was created for: have access to all registrants details without a court order.
A blog post today said that “Namecheap Stands Firm Against Efforts to Undermine Customer Privacy”.
Here is the Namecheap post:
As one of the world’s largest domain registrars, Namecheap takes customer privacy and Internet rights and due process seriously. Over the years we have taken a stand against many previous attempts to undermine our customers’ rights.
Today we find ourselves in another battle as Facebook is attempting to bypass legal protections and our own stringent customer protections.
Facebook claims that certain websites have violated Facebook’s trademarks and may be perpetuating fraud due to misleading domains.
Because Namecheap does not voluntarily divulge domain registrants’ private details (as protected by our WHOIS proxy Whoisguard) without a court-ordered subpoena, Facebook has filed a lawsuit against us.
Our CEO Richard Kirkendall has this to say about the lawsuit:
Namecheap takes every fraud and abuse allegation seriously, and diligently investigates each reported case of abuse. We actively remove any evidence-based abuse of our services on a daily basis. Where there is no clear evidence of abuse, or when it is purely a trademark claim, Namecheap will direct complainants, such as Facebook, to follow industry-standard protocol. Outside of said protocol, a legal court order is always required to provide private user information.
Facebook may be willing to tread all over their customers’ privacy on their own platform, and in this case, it appears they want other companies to do it for them, with their own customers. This is just another attack on privacy and due process in order to strong-arm companies that have services like WhoisGuard, intended to protect millions of Internet users’ personal private data.
Namecheap believes our customers have rights just like large corporations, and we stand firm against any company or entity that insists on invading privacy without due process.