One of the companies that plans to apply for the .free top-level domain next year has settled a lawsuit filed by Microsoft over claims it was involved in running the Kelihos botnet.
The suit, filed in late September, had alleged that Czech-based dotFree Group and its CEO, Dominique Piatti, were behind dozens of domains used to spread malware.
dotFree already runs the free .cz.cc subdomain service, which isn’t what you’d call a trustworthy namespace. The whole .cz.cc zone appears to be currently banned from Google’s index.
This week, Microsoft has dropped its claims against the company and Piatti, saying it will instead work with the company to try to help clean up the free .cz.cc space.
Microsoft said on its official blog:
Since the Kelihos takedown, we have been in talks with Mr. Piatti and dotFREE Group s.r.o. and, after reviewing the evidence voluntarily provided by Mr. Piatti, we believe that neither he nor his business were involved in controlling the subdomains used to host the Kelihos botnet. Rather, the controllers of the Kelihos botnet leveraged the subdomain services offered by Mr. Piatti’s cz.cc domain.
As part of the settlement, Mr. Piatti has agreed to delete or transfer all the subdomains used to either operate the Kelihos botnet, or used for other illegitimate purposes, to Microsoft. Additionally, Mr. Piatti and dotFREE Group have agreed to work with us to create and implement best practices to prevent abuse of free subdomains and, ultimately, apply these same best practices to establish a secure free Top Level Domain as they expand their business going forward.
Expect this issue to be raised if and when .free becomes a contested gTLD application.