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Anti-spam group KnujOn (“NoJunk” backwards), a member of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), has issued a nearly 100-page report detailing how some domain name registrars are actively shielding pharma and other illegal groups by protecting their web sites from takedown. The report names names.

ICANN is responsible for managing the assignment of domain names and IP addresses on behalf of the U.S. government.

KnujOn’s report quotes John Horton, President of “The Internet rule is straightforward. Domain name registrars are required by ICANN to prohibit domain owners from using their domains for unlawful purposes. Without exception, this rule is also reflected in each registrar’s terms and conditions, thus formalizing and protecting the company’s contractual right to suspend domain names for unlawful activity. Once a registrar becomes aware that a website is engaged in criminal activity, the company has the legal authority and technical ability to suspend the domain name, rendering the illegal and fraudulent content inaccessible. This self-policing is meant to balance freedom of speech with safety and legitimacy as the Internet continues to evolve. But all too often, registrars simply turn a blind eye to criminal activity.”

The third section of the KnujOn report describes “…how the Domain Name System is being manipulated on a massive scale to support illicit drug traffic and details conditions that allow this threat to exist at the expense of the consumer and legitimate business.”

The report says the illicit product traffic gives registrars the opportunity to make money selling illegal domain registrations and domain product service related to them.

The report says: “There is no question that underground pharmaceutical traffic is illegal and kills people. The traffickers may paint themselves as virtual Robin Hoods who defy the greedy hands of government and “big pharma”, but in reality they deliver tainted products and cruelly prey on the sick, elderly, and addicted. In contrast with the popular perception, the underground pharmacy market is far beyond lifestyle drugs like Viagra and Cialis. Tainted and completely fake drugs sold on the Internet include heart, blood-pressure, cancer, diabetes, and AIDS medications. There are multiple documented cases of chalk pressed into painted pills, HIV test kits that give false negatives, “anti-aging” cocktails, and an array of other “snake oils” that give false hope and make the sick sicker.”

Tom Kelchner