Several Indian internet service providers (ISPs) have reportedly blocked access to three major domain name registrars as part of a dispute over cybersquatting. Namecheap, and Tucows, both are the largest domain registrars in the world, as well as Dynadot, Sarek and Gransy, are said to be inaccessible through some Indian ISPs.
According to reports, Indian courts, and cybersquatting victims have become increasingly frustrated with domain registrars failing to respond to take-down notices. Some registrars are said to have asked plaintiffs to obtain a US court order, rather than one from India.
In response, the Delhi High Court has directed the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the Department of Telecommunications to take action against domain name registrars that are not complying with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
The court has called for action against registrars that have failed to implement court and authority orders in India or have not appointed grievance officers. The move is aimed at curbing illegal domain name registrations that use marks and names of well-known businesses, and plaintiffs' counsel will be free to communicate with an official from MeitY, who will act as a nodal officer to coordinate with DoT and other authorities.
In terms of the following order of Hon'ble High Court in February 2023, 5 Domain Registrar websites are not accessible from few Indian ISPs for now like #JIO, #Airtel, etc.— Ankur Raheja (@ankurraheja) March 12, 2023
The Registrars include @Dynadot; @Namecheap; @tucows; Sarek; and Gransy. #Domains #Registrar #Domain… https://t.co/Pm0OF7Me7S
The court has also asked trademark and brand owners to submit lists of DNRs that are not complying with judicial orders or appointing grievance officers. It directed MEITY/DOT officials to peruse various orders that have been passed in these proceedings before taking any action under the Information Technology Rules and called for steps against non-compliant DNRs to be taken within four weeks.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was also asked to take steps to curb malpractices where bank accounts stand in the name of a third party, despite accepting payments in the name of well-known companies. The court has asked the RBI to issue guidelines making it mandatory for banks to match beneficiary names or billing details with the account holder's name when accepting online or offline payments.
The court has set March 27 as the next hearing date and asked the RBI to submit an affidavit within four weeks. In September last year, the court had asked DNRs to submit details of their grievance officers and directed MEITY and DOT to take action in case they had not appointed the officers.