Freenom stops registering domain names after a lawsuit from Meta

by nativetechdoctor

Freenom, which has free top-level domains that attract spammers and scammers, has stopped allowing new domain name registrations.

According to Krebsonsecurity, this move comes just days after Freenom was Meta, accusing it of ignoring complaints about phishing websites and monetizing traffic to those domains.

Freenom is a domain name registration service provider for 5 country code top-level domains (ccTLDs), including .cf for Central African Republic, .ga for Gabon, .gq for Equatorial Guinea, .ml with Mali and .tk for Tokelau. This company always free registration for domain names in these 5 country codes to encourage users to pay for .com or .net domain name registration services.

On March 3, 2023, Meta filed a lawsuit against Freenom in a court in Northern California (USA), alleging cyber infringement and trademark infringement. The lawsuit also alleges the identities of 20 different John Does, a Freenom client that Meta says has been very active in phishing Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp users .

The lawsuit points to 2021 research conducted by the European Commission into domain name abuse. This study found that ccTLDs operated by Freenom account for 5 of the top 10 TLDs most abused by scammers.

The complaint from Meta states that the 5 ccTLDs that Freenom provides services to are TLDs chosen by cybercriminals. Freenom offers free domain name registration and protects customers’ identities even when there is evidence that the domain name is being used for illegal purposes. Even upon receiving infringement or fraud notices from its customers, Freenom continues to license new infringing domains to those same customers.

Meta also accused Freenom of repeatedly failing to take the appropriate steps to investigate and respond appropriately to reports of abuse. The company is said to monetize traffic from infringing domains by reselling them and adding pages that redirect visitors to commercial websites, pornographic websites, and websites. used for fraudulent activity.

Freenom has yet to respond to the content of the lawsuit, but an error message appears on the website when users register a domain name, saying that the Freenom application for new registrations is temporarily unavailable because of problems. technique.

Although Freenom is headquartered in the Netherlands, some of the companies in Freenom’s group that are defendants in the lawsuit are established in the US. Meta originally filed the lawsuit in December 2022 but has asked the court to seal the case, which limits public access to court documents in the dispute. The sealing request was denied, so Meta revised and re-filed the lawsuit last week.

According to Meta, this is not simply a case of domain name registrars ignoring complaints because it’s not good for business. The lawsuit alleges that Freenom’s owners were part of a network of companies created to facilitate hacking activity, all for Freenom’s benefit.

It’s not clear why Freenom stopped allowing domain name registrations, but it’s possible the company has recently been subject to some form of disciplinary action from ICANN, the nonprofit that oversees domain name registrars.

In June 2015, ICANN suspended Freenom’s creation of new domain names or inbound domain transfers for 90 days. According to Meta, ICANN’s suspension is because Freenom has engaged in the sale or use of domain names that are identical or confusingly similar to a third-party service mark to which the name holder has no rights, interests, or interests. legitimate interests.

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