.AI registry fining domain registrars over abuse complaints

ccTLD manager says it will fine registrars for not suspending domains and if customers contact the registry directly.

.AI next to a globe icon

.AI, the country code for Anguilla, has become very popular thanks to its use by artificial intelligence companies. But a recent policy change by the registry is sure to irk registrars that sell .AI domain names, and potentially registrants of these names.

A new policy published this week states:

Quick Handling of Abusive Websites

We ask that organizations that patrol the Internet for fraud send reports to the abuse contact for the registrar and CC [redacted]. If after one week the organization is not not satisfied that the registrar has properly handled the problem they can come back to us and we will investigate. If we determine that the site is or was violating our terms and conditions we will suspend the domain and charge the registrar $280. In our experience Netcraft.com takedown requests have always been valid and we strongly recommend registrars comply with Netcraft requests. If a registrar decides to ignore a request they should send an explanation as to why to improve their chances of avoiding the $280 fee.

If after this the registrars abusing customer harasses us (defined as more than 1 email or phone call) there will be an additional fee of $280. This is to give registrars an incentive to not pass our contact info to their abuse customers, which some have been doing.

This new policy will be troubling for registrars and registrants. Registrars have an incentive not to fight takedown notices, which could hurt legitimate registrants.

I’m particularly surprised by the second part that makes registrars responsible for a registrant’s post-suspension actions. After all, it’s not difficult for a registrant to find out how to contact the registry. The information is online in the IANA database and on .AI’s website…even in the very terms that include this new penalty. The registrar will need to tell the registrant the domain was suspended by the registry and that the registrar can’t do anything about it. So, the logical next step for an aggrieved registrant is to contact the registry.

It’s one more example of why companies and domain investors should be careful about using country code domain names. You are at the whim of the country and country code manager and not protected by the many safeguards in place at ICANN.

And you never know when a hurricane will roll through.

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