Handbook for the police and prosecuting authority: Seizures of Norwegian domains
Norwegian domain names (domain names ending in .no) may be seized pursuant to Section 203 of the Criminal Procedure Act (HR-2009-01692-U ). What is actually seized is the registration of the domain, in that the police take control of the domain until the case is final. Norid is not a party to these cases, but because we operate the central register of Norwegian domain names, we must register that control of the registration has been transferred.
Seizing a domain name
- Contact a registrar
The police must contact a registrar who can maintain the domain name registration while the seizure is in effect. Ask the registrar to make sure that the organization assuming control of the registration, relevant contact information and technical information for the domain have been registered in our database, which is publicly available.
- Forward the seizure order to us
The seizure is addressed to the domain holder. The prosecuting authority’s decision must be forwarded to us, in writing, by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail to UNINETT Norid AS, Postboks 4769 Sluppen, NO-7465 Trondheim
- Submit personal declaration and contact information
Fill out the personal declaration and specify registration holder, contact information, registrar and technical information for the domain. If the transfer is time-sensitive, you must inform us specifically about this fact.
- The domain registration is transferred to the police
This transfer is mandatory, and can only be executed by us. Once the transfer is completed, the former registration holder (the person against whom the seizure is made) will receive an automated e-mail notice, cf. article 11.4 of the domain name policy.
- Make sure the domain is renewed while under seizure
While the domain is under seizure, the police are liable for any and all costs that may accrue, including the annual renewal fee for the domain. If the domain is not renewed, it will be automatically deleted following a notice period. This means the domain will become available to others.
What does Norid do when a domain is seized?
We transfer the seized domain to the police, who assume control of it until the case has been finally settled. After the transfer is completed, the police are registered as the holder of the domain, with the rights and obligations this entails.
Seizures remain in effect until they are lifted or otherwise reversed. Once the seizure is lifted, the police must transfer the registration to the original domain name holder, or any other party identified by him. Registration is transferred in accordance with standard procedures for the transfer of domains.
What are the responsibilities of the police during the period of seizure?
While the domain is under seizure, the police are responsible for keeping the registration active so that it can be returned later on, and the police are liable for any and all costs that may accrue.
All domains must be renewed annually. In practice, the registrar is the one handling the renewal. We send the registrar a bill for the renewal fee, and the registrar will, in turn, bill the registration holder. If the registrar does not renew the domain by the expiry date, we will initiate an automated deletion process. The registration holder is notified by e-mail that the domain’s registration has lapsed, and that the domain will be deleted after 90 days if it is not renewed. If this happens, the police must contact the registrar and ask them to renew the domain.
If the domain is not renewed and ultimately deleted, the domain name will return to the pool of available domains and become available to anyone. The police are responsible for making sure the domain can be returned to the party against whom the seizure was made. This also applies if the police choose to cancel the registration, which will have the effect of deleting the domain.
What happens when a domain is forfeited?
In a criminal case involving seizure of a domain name, the court may order forfeiture as a final coercive measure. In that the domain name holder does not own the domain, but simply subscribes to it, forfeiture of the domain name registration will, in practice, differ from other forfeitures. The registration has been used to offer an address for an unlawful service, but the domain itself is not unlawful. Similar to how it would work for telephone numbers, the domain name holder forfeits control of the domain, not the domain itself.
The prosecuting authority may choose to transfer a forfeited registration to a third party, in which case this third party will assume the role of an ordinary registration holder, with the rights and obligations this entails. Alternatively, once the registration is deleted, the domain may be allowed to become part of the domain resource managed by Norid.
In that domain names are a limited resource, it is important that as much of this resource as possible remains available to those who wish to acquire one. At the same time, however, it is important to protect third parties from the stigma of unknowingly registering a domain that recently has been associated with a criminal case. Our policy is therefore to quarantine the domain for two years before making it available to other applicants. This is, however, dependent on our being informed of the outcome of the criminal case prior to deleting the domain.