Tuesday, December 15, 2009

China changes registration rules - will spam changes follow?

Big news from China with regards to their domain name registration policies.

Readers of the blog know that I have regularly complained about criminals from around the world abusing the services of Chinese domain name registration companies. We have also commented on the practice of "bullet-proof hosting", for instance in our story Spam Crisis in China.

I am happy to report that the fine people at the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) have taken action to address this situation!

Thanks to Robert McMillan from IDG for giving me the Twitter tip-off on this story!

Many Chinese news sources are reporting the story:

Individuals banned from .cn application is the report from the Shanghai Daily

China barred individuals from applying for Chinese domain names, ending with .cn, from yesterday as part of a national campaign against pornographic content spread online, the industry regulator said.

Applicants for domain name registration are required to hand in written application forms, with a business license and the applicant's identity card, according to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).

The new application system will help the CNNIC better regulate the Internet environment in the country and crack down on improper content online, experts said.

CNNIC decided to screen applicants' qualifications strictly to stop individuals obtaining domain names using fake information, said Liu Zhijiang, vice director of the regulator.

"The applications in written form can help us do our work more accurately," media reported quoting Liu.

Reading the recent announcements from China Internet Network Information Center we can see that changes began to be introduced on November 30.

In the article, With Regard to Complaints from the Public Domain Name Registration Services two new requirements are given to all Domain Name Registration Services:

1) they must prominently display a link to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technolgoy along with their MIIT approval number to do business in this area.

2) they must prominently display information on how to make a domain name registration complaint to the CNNIC, including their email, telephone, and fax number for CNNIC.

In their own version of security through journalism (the term we use in the US is called "Krebsing"), CNNIC revealed in their letter of December 10th that further changes would be coming as a result of a television documentary on the CCTV program "Focus" and other media reports that indicated that criminals using false information were registering websites to carry out illegal activities. They announced in their open letter, On the strengthening of domain name registration service management, that changes would be coming to crack down on "pornographic websites", stating that "CNNIC has a duty to the country as the domain name registration authroity to take responsibility to stop this illegal activity."

As part of this letter, they announce that "in the face of rampant phishing, they have joined the internet community to establish an "anti-phishing website union" more than a year ago, and in the previous year have shut down more than 8,000 phishing websites to protect the public interest."

As part of their plans, the CNNIC has pledged to shutdown companies performing registrations for illegal activities, and to enhance their manpower and resources to address complaints more rapidly. They have also provided a 24 hour Customer Service Telephone number and an email that can be used to report illegal domain activity:

7 x 24 hour Customer Service Tel: 010-58813000
E-mail: supervise@cnnic.cn
Fax: 010-5881266

An announcement followed also on December 10th, With regard to domain name registration: Information to carry out notification of special treatment. In this announcement the rule was made that any domain name must contain "true, accurate and complete domain name registration information" and that any domain name registration that was untrue, inaccurate, or incomplete would result in the domain name being terminated. This new ruling specifically extends to previously registered domains as well - any previously registered domain reported to have false registration information is to be cancelled within five days. Any agents acting on behalf of the registration company (the phrase is "lower-level agents" - I believe this specifically refers to resellers) are also to be held to these requirements.

In a second announcement on December 11th, Domain name registration information on further strengthening the audit notice CNNIC also announced that effective at 9 o'clock on December 14th, all domain name registrations would need to be submitted ONLINE AND IN WRITING and include:

- a copy of the registration application stamped with the official seal of the applicant
- a copy of the enterprise business license
- optionally, an organization certificate (for non-businesses)
- a photocopy of the applicant's identity paperwork

The announcement state that the Domain Name Registration Service must then carefully examine the written materials and send a copy to CNNIC.

The online registration is allowed to proceed in realtime, but if the written materials are not received within five days, the domain name must be canceled.

We will anxiously await measurement of the results of this new policy. There are several news stories referring to particular registration companies being banned from future .cn registration until they come into compliance. According to John Leyden's article Chinese domain crackdown targets smut sites these include:


(John was quoting Global Times of China)

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