Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

No excuses! PIR to pay for ALL registries to tackle child abuse

Kevin Murphy, February 6, 2024, Domain Registries

Public Interest Registry has announced that it will pay for all domain registries to receive alerts when child sexual abuse material shows up in their TLDs.

The non-profit .org operator said today that it will sponsor any registry — gTLD or ccTLD — that wants to sign up to receive the Domain Alerts service from the Internet Watch Foundation, the UK-based charity that tracks CSAM on the internet.

According to the IWF, only a dozen registries currently receive the service, PIR said.

“Our sponsorship will extend access to Domain Alerts to over a thousand TLDs at no cost enabling any interested registry to help prevent the display of criminal, abusive content on their domains,” the company said.

PIR didn’t say how much this is likely to cost it. IWF doesn’t publish its prices, but it seems only paying members usually receive the service. Its membership fees range from £1,000 ($1,259) to £90,000 ($113,372) a year, based on company size.

The partnership also means all registries will have free access to the IWF TLD Hopping List, which tracks CSAM “brands” as they move between TLDs whenever they are taken down by registries in a given jurisdiction.

IWF says that in 2022 it found 255,000 web pages hosting CSAM, spread across 5,416 domains. PIR says it has removed 5,700 instances of CSAM across its portfolio of TLDs over the last five years.

IWF finds 3,401 “commercial” child porn domains

Kevin Murphy, April 28, 2021, Domain Registries

The Internet Watch Foundation last year found child sexual abuse material on 3,401 domains that it says appeared to be commercial sites dedicated to distributing the illegal content.

The UK-based anti-CSAM group said in its annual report, published last week, that it found 5,590 domains containing such material in 2020, and 61% were “dedicated commercial sites… created solely for the purpose of profiting financially from the distribution of child sexual abuse material online.”

That’s a 13% increase in domains over 2019, the report says. It compares to 1,991 domains in 2015.

IWF took action on 153,369 URLs containing CSAM last year, the report says.

For example, the TLD with the most CSAM abuse is of course .com, with 90,879 offending URLs in 2020, 59% of the total. That compares to 69,353 or 52% in 2019.

But because those 90,000 URLs may include, for example, pages on image-hosting sites that use .com domains, the number of unique .com domains being abused will be substantially lower.

Same goes for the other TLDs on the top 10 list — .net, .ru, .nz, .fr, .org, .al, .to, .xyz and .pw.

.co, .cc and .me were on the 2019 list but not the 2019 list, being replaced by .al, .org and .pw.

The most disturbing part of the report, which is stated twice, is the alarming claim that some TLDs exist purely to commercially distribute CSAM:

We’ve also seen a number of new TLDs being created solely for the purpose of profiting financially from the distribution of child sexual abuse material online.

We first saw these new gTLDs being used by websites displaying child sexual abuse imagery in 2015. Many of these websites were dedicated to illegal imagery and the new gTLD had apparently been registered specifically for this purpose.

I can only assume that IWF is getting confused between a top-level domain and a second-level domain.

The alternative would be that the organization believes one or more TLD registries are purposefully catering primarily to commercial child pornographers, and for some reason it’s declining to do anything about it.

I’ve put in a request for clarification but not yet received a response.

IWF is funded by corporate donations from primarily technology companies. Pretty much every big domain registry is a donor. Verisign is a top-tier, £80,000+ donor. The others are all around the £5,000 to £10,000 mark.

UPDATE May 26: IWF has been in touch to clarify that it was in fact referring to SLDs, rather than TLDs, in its claims about dedicated commercial CSAM sites quoted above. It has corrected its report accordingly.