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RealTime IT News

Verio Not Going Quietly in War with Register.com

A few weeks after being issued a mandate to cease spamming people it allegedly learned about through Register.com's WHOIS database, Verio Inc. fired back by accusing the registrar of violating an accreditation agreement it has with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers Corp.

Though the Web host has been ordered by a New York District Court to stop targeting Register.com's users, it claims the registrar breached the Registrar Accreditation agreement with ICANN, specifically, section II.F.5.

Verio summarized the alleged breaches in two areas, claiming:

  • Register.com has imposed restrictions on the use of Whois data that exceed those allowed by the query-based public access provisions of the Accreditation Agreement; and
  • Register.com has refused altogether to make Whois data available through the bulk access provisions of the Accreditation Agreement, or, in purporting to make such data available, has attempted to impose restrictions on use and other requirements that go beyond those allowed by the Accreditation Agreement

Though ICANN has requested that register.com respond to the allegations, it has yet to do so formally, according to Register.com spokesperson Shonna Keogan, who said that her firm believes the act is "sour grapes on the part of Verio."

"Given the timing, it just seems like this is something that they are doing in response to the fact that we won on all counts in our preliminary injunction with them," Keogan explained to InternetNews Radio Tuesday.

"The reason why we took legal action against Verio was because we were getting repeated complaints from our customers saying 'Why did you sell my information to Verio?' That was diminishing our reputation and definitely getting in the way of our customer relationships."

Keogan said Verio's actions were especially damaging on the good faith front because the spammed customers had opted out of receiving any marketing materials from register.com.

Furthermore, Keogan told InternetNews.com Tuesday that Verio's argument was "meritless" and would ultimately prove to be an unsuccessful litigation tactic. Key to register.com's position, Keogan said, is its support from customers.

"Our customers are in full support of everything we are doing here," Keogan said. "Some of our customers were being targeted as much as 12 to 15 times a week. They actually had a name for it -- 'Project Henhouse.'"

Verio did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

Kirk Ruthenberg, a Washington D.C.-based partner and head of the e-business practice with the law firm Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal, told InternetNews.com Tuesday that upon reviewing the documents concerning this issue it appeared that Register.com has the right to its granted injunction under the ICANN stipulations.

Ruthenberg also noted that when a Web site becomes registered, that information is, for all intents and purposes, extremely public.

Given that many states have statutes forbidding spamming, Ruthenberg said Register.com has the right to publish any of its users' data in the Whois section so long as it does not pepper them with unwanted marketing information.

Despite the public availability of the customers' information, Ruthenberg said the real issue is that the users repeatedly received unsolicited e-mail.

Register.com initiated its complaint in August but the situation heated up last month. In a finding of a complaint decided Dec. 8, register.com successfully argued that Verio is misleading customers and violating terms of use on WHOIS, according to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Lanham Act.

Register.com President and Chief Executive O