The International Commission for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has terminated rogue Internet pharmacy sponsor ESTDomains.
That’s great news, and it’s big. EST Domains is a huge sponsor of rogue Internet pharmacies. Of the domain name registrars that we track, it’s probably number two or number three, depending on how you calculate it.
But let’s back up. For those who don’t follow this issue, a domain name registrar is an entity authorized by ICANN to sell domain names. For example, when we decided to use the name “LegitScript.com,” we went to Network Solutions and registered that domain name. Any DNR like Network Solutions, GoDaddy or eNom can only sell domain names as long as ICANN continues to give them permission to do so.
ESTDomains’ problems began with the fact that Vladimir Tsastsin, the President of the Company, was convicted of several crimes, including forgery and credit card fraud. This is contrary to ICANN rules, and is grounds for termination. But the real impetus for the termination was the fact that an overwhelming number of rogue websites (Internet pharmacies and others) looked to EST Domains as a safe place where, regardless of what sort of illegal activity they engaged in, they wouldn’t be terminated. For several months, a loose coalition of online safety organizations like KnujOn and CastleCops pressured ICANN to adhere to its own standards, which allow termination for this sort of illegal activity.
But here’s the question: what happens to the 281,000 domain names currently registered with ESTDomains? ICANN policy requires that they be transferred to another DNR within the next several weeks. On the one hand, some websites are legitimate and we hope that their operations aren’t affected. But plenty are rogue sites engaged in illegal activities involving malware, counterfeit pharmaceuticals, and other illegal activity.
This is the perfect opportunity to get those websites terminated. Will it happen? Stay tuned.
UPDATE: ESTDomains has alleged that Tsastsin had already resigned and is appealing the decision. ICANN has agreed to stay the termination pending their review of ESTDomains’ request.