Facebook Files Lawsuit Over Deceptive Domain Names

Facebook filed a lawsuit in Arizona this week against domain name registrar Namecheap and its Whoisguard proxy service for registering deceptive domain names that were similar to those of the social network’s services.

Director and associate general counsel, intellectual property litigation Christen Dubois said in a Newsroom post that Whoisguard registered 45 such domain names, including instagrambusinesshelp.com, facebo0k-login.com and whatsappdownload.site.

She added that notices were sent to Whoisguard between October 2018 and February 2020, and the company declined to cooperate.

Namecheap CEO Richard Kirkendall said in an email, “Namecheap takes every fraud and abuse allegation extremely seriously and diligently investigates each reported case of abuse. We want to be clear: We actively remove any evidence-based abuse of our services on a daily basis. Where there is no clear evidence of abuse, or it is purely a trademark claim, Namecheap will direct complainants, such as Facebook, to follow industry standard protocol. Outside of said protocol, a legal court order is always required to provide private user information.”

He added, “Facebook may be willing to tread all over its customers’ privacy on its own platform, and in this case, it appears that it wants other companies to do it for them with our own customers. This is just another attack on privacy and due process in order to strong-arm companies that have services like Whoisguard, which are intended to protect millions of internet users’ privacy.”

Facebook filed a similar lawsuit last October against OnlineNIC and ID Shield.

Dubois wrote, “These domain names can trick people into believing they are legitimate and are often used for phishing, fraud and scams … We don’t want people to be deceived by these web addresses, so we’ve taken legal action … Our goal is to create consequences for those who seek to do harm, and we will continue to take legal action to protect people from domain name fraud and abuse.”

In May 2015, Namecheap became a partner in Facebooks’ FbStart program, which provided mobile application startups with free tools and services.

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