Centre for Internet & Society

Registrars on contract with ICANN are required to maintain an “abuse contact” - a 24/7 dedicated phone line and e-mail address to receive reports of abuse regarding the registered names sponsored by the registrar.

We wrote to ICANN requesting information on these abuse complaints received by registrars over the last year. We specifically wanted reports of illegal activity on the internet submitted to these abuse contacts as well as details on actions taken by registrars in response to these complaints.

The request filed by Padmini Baruah can be found here.

What ICANN said

Our request to ICANN very specifically dealt with reported illegal activities. However, in their response, ICANN first broadened it to abuse complaints and then failed to give a narrowed down list of even those complaints.

In their response, ICANN indicated that they do not store records of complaints made to the abuse contact. This is stored by the registrars and is available to ICANN only upon request. However, since ICANN is only obliged to publish documents it already has in its possession, we did not receive an answer to our first question.

As for the second item, ICANN gave a familiarly vague answer, linking us to the Contractual Compliance Complaints page with a list of all the breach notices that have been issued by ICANN to registrars. A breach notice is relevant to our request only if it is in response to an abuse complaint, and the abuse complaint specifically deals with illegal activity. Even discounting that, this is not a comprehensive list when you take into account that a breach notice is published only “if a formal contractual compliance enforcement process has been initiated relating to an abuse complaint and resulted in a breach.”[1] What about the rest of the complaints received by the registrar?

In addition, ICANN refused to publish any communication or documentation of ICANN requesting reports of illegal activity under the DIDP non-disclosure conditions.

ICANN's response to our DIDP request may be found here.

[1] See ICANN response here (Pg 4): https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/didp-response-20150901-4-cis-abuse-complaints-01oct15-en.pdf

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