If you own a UK domain name you could be at risk of temporarily losing it – just for being suspected of illegal behaviour.
Nominet, the company that looks after the register of .uk domain names, has released a new tool that will allow registrars to lock users out of their domains if there is any suspicion of criminal activity relating to that domain.
Once activated, the Investigation Lock disconnects the .uk domain from the site it’s pointed at, meaning users won’t be able to access the site without typing in its IP number directly.
Sounds like a good idea for preventing crime? Well, yes but the problem is that no court order is needed to block a domain, meaning you could lose your domain just for being a suspect. If that site makes you money it could disastrous for your livelihood.
It’s easier than you might think to find your site on the wrong side of the law. With online criminals becoming increasingly sophisticated, innocent website owners can easily find their sites hacked to include malware, even if they try their best to stay on top of patches to software running on their site.
If the company you registered your domain name with receives evidence, from the police or another source, that phishing or other criminal behaviour is being carried out you could be locked out while an investigation is carried out. You could get it back once you’re found to be innocent but by that time you could have lost countless visitors, ranking on Google and you could even be driven out of business simply because people can’t find you.
Blogger Clarke Duncan questioned Nominet about the Investigation Lock and published their answers. Nominet stated:
“It is worth mentioning that this lock is an extension of the existing phishing lock, which has been in place since May 2009. We haven’t seen any abuse of the phishing lock which was one of the key criteria we considered before we extended the ways in which the lock can be used…
“As with any new functionality we will keep a close eye on how it is used and the impact it has and make any changes we think necessary. Ultimately we are committed to finding ways to make .uk a safe and secure environment. This isn’t a quick fix but it is one way we are trying to help.”
It’s worth reading Clarke Duncan’s full article for more background on the Nominet Investigation Lock.
If you own a .uk domain it’s now more important that ever to make sure that your site is as secure and up-to-date as it can possibly be.