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

fficer Richard Forman told
InternetNews.com at the time of the injunction judgment against Verio that
the finding was a precedent — customers can be protected by law from spam.


Calling the ruling a “great victory,” register.com Forman said his firm has
worked hard to cultivate relationships with customers and business partners.


InternetNews Radio host Brian McWilliams contributed to this story.

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