Domain Registry Of America Suspended By ICANN

ICANN has suspended Domain Registry of America aka Brandon Gray Internet Services aka NameJuice. The registrar is forbidden from registering any new domain names or accepting any inbound transfers until 17 October 2014.

The announcement was posted on the ICANN website earlier this evening and will probably be welcomed in many circles.

What happened exactly?

ICANN posted two letters regarding Brandon Gray today. One is the suspension notice, while the other is a detailed breach notice which explains it all.

Essentially Brandon Gray got finally caught out by a couple of clauses in the 2013 registrar contract with ICANN (RAA):

Brandon Gray’s resellers subjecting Registered Name Holders to false advertising, deceptive practices, or deceptive notices, pursuant to Section 3.12.7 of the RAA and Section 3 of Domain Name Registrants’ Rights of the Registrants’ Benefits and Responsibilities Specification (“RBRS”).

ICANN would also like to know how they managed to mine whois data to send out all the letters to registrants without falling foul of the section 3.3.5 of the RAA, which states:

3.3.5 In providing query-based public access to registration data as required by Subsections 3.3.1 and 3.3.4, Registrar shall not impose terms and conditions on use of the data provided, except as permitted by any Specification or Policy established by ICANN. Unless and until ICANN establishes a different Consensus Policy, Registrar shall permit use of data it provides in response to queries for any lawful purposes except to: (a) allow, enable, or otherwise support the transmission by e-mail, telephone, postal mail, facsimile or other means of mass unsolicited, commercial advertising or solicitations to entities other than the data recipient’s own existing customers; or (b) enable high volume, automated, electronic processes that send queries or data to the systems of any Registry Operator or ICANN-Accredited registrar, except as reasonably necessary to register domain names or modify existing registrations.

ie. mining your competitors’ data to send unsolicited and misleading marketing messages isn’t allowed, so if you didn’t breach this clause how exactly did you send those notices?

You can read the two letters below:

The breach notice:

serad-to-patel-18jul14-en

The suspension notice:

serad-to-patel-2-18jul14-en

As I mentioned, this news will probably be welcomed in many circles.

Brandon Gray Internet Services has been around for a long time and has, to put it diplomatically, a rather chequered history. The company has operated under several different names and guises depending on which market it was targetting.

Names include:

  • Namejuice.com
  • Domain Registry of America
  • Domain Renewal Group
  • Domain Registry of Australia
  • Domain Registry of Canada
  • Domain Registry of Europe
  • Internet Registry of Canada
  • Liberty Names of America
  • Registration Services Inc.
  • Yellow Business.ca
  • Internet Corporation Listing Service

The company has been sending out dubious marketing emails and letters to domain name registrants for years. (I’ve been posting about their tactics for years!) And they also came under scrutiny a few years ago by the UK’s advertising watchdog.

More recently they got into trouble with CIRA, the .ca country code registry, who ended up terminating their accreditation and going to court (DROC tried to sue CIRA).

And if you do a cursory search for any of the company names I listed above, or the acronyms for same, you’ll find plenty of articles about their dubious marketing tactics. The technique is often called “domain slamming”. The wikipedia article on “domain scams” is peppered with references to the companies mentioned above.

More recently Brandon Gray has run into issues with ICANN for a variety of reasons and today’s breach notice was the 3rd they’d got in a 12 month period, so they were suspended.

Based on what we’ve seen in the past with this company they’ll probably fight this, but unless they can successfully comply with ICANN’s requests (as outlined in the breach notice above) it looks like this could be one of the final chapters in the Brandon Gray saga.

Update 22 July 2014:

The home page for Brandon Gray / NameJuice now displays the suspension notice as mandated by ICANN:

brandon-gray-namejuice-suspension-notice-homepage

However there has been no change to the DROA site or that of Domain Renewal Group. The site’s layout and design is more than a little similar:

domain-renewal-group-homepage

More on this, as we get it.

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