ICANN’s board has rejected a formal demand that it “take down” the web site RipoffReport.com in what is possibly the strangest Request for Reconsideration case it has considered to date.
The almost 20-year-old site hosts reports from consumers about what they consider to be “rip-offs”. It’s seen its fair share of controversy and legal action over the years.
Somebody called Fraser Lee filed the RfR in December after (allegedly) trying and failing to get the site’s registrar, DNC Holdings (aka Directnic), to yank the domain and then trying and failing to get ICANN Compliance to yank DNC’s accreditation.
The request (pdf) is a rambling, often incoherent missive, alleging that RipoffReport contains “legally proven illegal defamatory, copyright infringing, hateful, suicidal and human rights depriving content” and demanding ICANN “take down the site RIPOFFREPORT.COM AS EXPECTED BY THEIR POLICIES OR RISK BEING SUED AS AN ENDORSER OF CYBER TERRORISM.”
ICANN’s Board Governance Committee has naturally enough rejected (pdf) the request, largely on the grounds that it does not have the authority to police internet content and that it could find no evidence that DNC had breached its contract:
the Requester ultimately seeks to have ICANN assume greater responsibility of policing purportedly illegal activity on the Internet, and attempts to place the burden on ICANN to regulate content on the Internet. That is not ICANN’s role. If content is to be regulated, that review and enforcement falls to institutions charged with interpreting and enforcing laws and regulations around the world, such as law enforcement
In a bizarre twist, the BGC further decided that “Fraser Lee” may not even be the person who filed the original complaints with DNC and ICANN Compliance.
“Fraser Lee, has never initiated a complaint with the ICANN Contractual Compliance department,” the BGC wrote.
A lengthy (and, one imagines, maddening) email thread between DNC’s lawyer and somebody called “Smith”, evidently provided by DNC to ICANN (pdf), appears show that at least two different identities are in play here.
It’s an odd one for sure, but it does have the virtue of getting ICANN’s board on the record again stating that it does not police content.