Top 3 Excuses Registrars Use That Help Enable Rogue Pharmacies

Buckle up! What you are about to read are some of the most common responses we get from (the few remaining) non-responsive registrars when notifying them about rogue internet pharmacies abusing their domain name services.

LegitScript provides global internet pharmacy monitoring and verification services that are used by domain name registrars, major search engines, payment networks, and leading e-commerce platforms. LegitScript is also endorsed for use by Registrars on behalf of pharmacy regulators in the US and Canada. We work closely with INTERPOL and regulatory authorities in the EU and  beyond.

On a daily basis, LegitScript reaches out to registrars around the world. Most registrars voluntarily embrace their important role of promoting internet safety and protecting public health (as seen in this recent enforcement efforts blog post.) However, there’s a small minority of registrars that don’t. These are some of their most common excuses for not taking action in response to reports of abuse.

Excuse #1: “Sorry, but you need a court order for that.”

Actually, you don’t  need a court order to report domain name abuse. According to ICANN’s 2013 RAA, Section 3.8.12 a “Registrar shall take reasonable and prompt steps to investigate and respond appropriately to any reports of abuse.” Promptly investigating reports of abuse is not dependent on a court order. Further clarification can be found in this letter from ICAAN.

And to the same point: if the vast majority of registrars around the world take action without a court order, no registrar can credibly claim that a court order is necessary. For example, one Russian registrar has repeatedly insisted that a court order is necessary under Russian law…but when asked, has never been able to provide a statute or court ruling showing that it is.

Excuse #2: “We only manage the domain name. The website content is not hosted on our servers.”

Section 1.13 of the ICANN Registrar Accreditation Agreement says: “”Illegal Activity” means conduct involving use of a Registered Name sponsored by Registrar that is prohibited by applicable law […] in furtherance of conduct involving the use of a Registered Name sponsored by Registrar that is prohibited by applicable law.” We encourage you to ask, what is the domain name used for? If it is used to illegally market pharmaceuticals, then according to Section 1.13 of the 2013 RAA, it falls on the registrar.

And in a broader sense, it doesn’t matter whether you are providing domain name registration, content hosting, delivery, payment processing, or any other service to a criminal enterprise: if your paid services are being used to facilitate the criminal activity, once you are put on notice, you are potentially legally liable if you don’t do something about it, and instead turn a blind eye to the activity. So it’s not as if registrars are being singled out as compared to other facilitators.

Excuse #3: “The registrant provided us a valid pharmacy license.”

If this is the case, then the registrar should pass the pharmacy documentation along to LegitScript for verification. However, we sometimes get told that this isn’t possible because the documents are “confidential.” Pharmacy licensure is always public information. A pharmacy has no right to privacy. It’s worth noting that by concealing the information the registrant has provided, and by knowingly permitting them to continue using the domain names for illegal activity, opens up risk for the registrar itself under criminal conspiracy statutes.

So, how do you really know if the provided pharmacy license is valid? And how do you know it’s  not a falsified document that some criminal entity is using to hide their illicit operations?

The answer is pretty simple — and it’s free. We never expect registrars to know ALL the applicable pharmaceutical rules and regulations. This is why we created a Complimentary Internet Pharmacy Guide for registrars, registries, and hosting providers. Download yours today at legitscript.com/registrars/guide.

To sum things up, LegitScript is a strong advocate of internet safety and public health in the internet community, and we work together with registrars and registries that share the same values, all over the world. Most registrars do a really great job of voluntarily taking action against criminal enterprises abusing their services and putting internet users’ health and safety at risk. If you are a registrar with questions about how to effectively terminate services to these online criminals, simply email us at [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you.