Spamhaus Could Lose Domain Name
October 10, 2006
By Ed Oswald, BetaNews
October 10, 2006, 1:55 PM
After thumbing its nose at a US court, UK spam fighting organization Spamhaus could lose its domain name. The action would come as a result of an expected order by a federal judge in Chicago that would order ICANN to suspend the group's rights to spamhaus.org.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ordered Spamhaus to pay e360insight and its CEO David Linhardt $11,715,000 in damages, and immediately remove his company from the blacklist. In addition, the group was ordered to publish an apology and acknowledge that Linhardt was not a spammer back in mid-September.
It should be noted the case was decided as a default judgement, because Spamhaus did not appear in court to defend itself.
Spamhaus' initial reaction was defiant, telling BetaNews that it had no US assets that the courts could seize, and said the court had no jurisdiction. But it indeed does: Spamhaus registered its domain, spamhaus.org, through US-based Tucows, and domains are controlled by ICANN, which is still a US government entity.
Such a ruling would unleash a flood of spam onto the Internet, Spamhaus claims, although experts say such an eventuality is unlikely, and would rather be a roadblock that could easily be worked around.
Lawyers for e360insight said going after Spamhaus' domain name is a last-ditch effort to get the organization to comply with the ruling. "What else can we do?" one if its attorneys told the Associated Press Tuesday.
It is not clear if either Tucows or ICANN would comply with the ruling, although some experts say Tucows may have no choice. With these latest threats, Spamhaus' public statements on the matter have seemed to change, and now seem to indicate that the group will appeal.
"We are working with lawyers to find a way to both appeal/contest the ruling and stop further nonsense by this spammer," the group said in a statement. However, it ruled out attempting to get around a Web domain shutdown by simply registering another name.
"The reality is that if Spamhaus gets around the court order by switching domain to maintain the blocking, the judge would very likely then rule us in criminal contempt," it said. "We don't want a criminal record for the sake of fighting spam. We normally help fit the spammers with criminal records, not the other way round."