The following domain registrars appear to have been blocked in India after the Delhi High Court in February issued an order directing the IT Ministry to take action against them for non-compliance with the IT Rules, 2021:
The websites of these registrars are not uniformly blocked across all internet service providers (ISPs) yet. We were able to access all these sites on a Railwire broadband connection but not on Airtel and Jio connections.
The blocking of these registrars was spotted by domain name lawyer Ankur Raheja on March 12, who shared it on Twitter, and was verified by us afterwards. Namecheap has also confirmed that it has been blocked by some ISPs.
Why does this matter
The blocking of domain registrars, especially popular ones like Namecheap, severely affects customers who have domains registered with these companies as they won’t be able to access their account for domain renewals, transfers, DNS configuration, etc.
Hi! Our website is being blocked by some Indian ISPs. Please use a secure VPN to access our website until the issue is resolved
— Namecheap.com (@Namecheap) March 14, 2023
Why were these domains registrars blocked
According to LiveLaw, the Delhi HC directed action against these registrars for:
- Not setting up grievance redressal officers as required under the IT Rules, 2021
- Not following the orders issued by Indian courts and authorities
The court was hearing a bunch of pleas about fraudulent domain names that are impersonating well-known business houses. The pleas were filed by businesses like Dabur, Tata Sky, Mother Dairy, Ultratech Cement, Microsoft, Snapdeal, Jockey, and others, who had approached the court seeking relief against misuse of their trademarks.
On what grounds were blocking orders issued?
The IT Ministry has powers to issue blocking orders under Section 69A of the IT Act, 2000, but only “in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above.” It’s not clear if or how these grounds apply to the reasons highlighted by the Delhi HC above.
RBI should step in as well
The Delhi HC also suggested that RBI take steps to curb instances where amounts are accepted in the bank accounts of those impersonating well-known companies. The court asked RBI whether it can “issue guidelines making it mandatory for banks to match beneficiary’s name or name in the billing details with the account holder’s name ‘and not merely the account number’ whenever banks accept online or offline payments,” LiveLaw reported. The court is expected to hear the case next on March 27.