Sunlight Shown to Be an Effective Disinfectant Against Domain Name Abuse

November 8, 2018

By: Libby Baney and Matthew Rubin, Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting

During the 63rd international meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN63), held October 20-25, 2018, in Barcelona, Spain, the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP Global) awarded DK Hostmaster with its annual Internet Pharmacy Safety E-Commerce Leadership Award. DK Hostmaster – the domain name administrator for Denmark’s “.dk” country code top-level domain – supports an open WHOIS, which serves as a foundation of creating and maintaining internet transparency and ensuring it remains possible to see who is operating a .dk domain name.

ASOP Global selected DK Hostmaster based upon its commitment to ensuring public health and patient safety by maintaining transparent WHOIS domain name registration data, proactively responding to reports of misuse or abuse within their platform, and enforcing policies that help to prevent illegal online drug sales.

Further, DK Hostmaster’s efforts have resulted in a more secure and trustworthy .dk namespace. With increased identity checks of Danish and foreign customers, DK Hostmaster managed to take down the domain names of more than 3,000 suspected fake stores since November 2017.

When accepting the award, the chief executive officer of DK Hostmaster, Jakob Truelsen, said: “Transparency has shown to be an effective tool to prevent abuse. Sunlight has proven to [be] an effective disinfectant.”

Similarly, since its launch, NABP’s .Pharmacy Verified Websites Program has required registrants to maintain transparent, accurate WHOIS data for the same reason – to discourage abuse and illegal activity from occurring on its platform. As NABP’s executive director/secretary wrote in a recent op-ed, this is especially important for pharmacy activity on the internet, where illegal online drug sellers often peddle counterfeit or otherwise illegal drugs, including opioids, without a prescription or pharmacy licensure. NABP is an observer to ASOP Global and serves as Board chair of the ASOP Global Foundation.

Others participating in ICANN63 also recognized the importance of transparent WHOIS data, including the European Cybercrime Centre, the Coalition for a Secure and Transparent Internet (of which NABP is a member), the Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group, and the Anti-Phishing Working Group.