We receive the occasional request to shut down or delete domain names due to suspicions of illegal activity connected to the sites. We would therefore like to clarify what Norid’s responsibilities are in this context, and what some of the consequences of deleting a domain name are.
At the same time we also want to give some information on what you, the Internet user, can do if you believe that the content on a website is in breach with Norwegian law.
Our role as a registry is to administer the Norwegian top-level domain and maintain the central database for all domain names within .no. Norid administers a resource which is important to all parts of Norwegian society, but this does not mean that we are responsible for the uses of or the content within the actual domains. The service we provide can be compared to looking up an address in the phonebook directory. However, the content within a domain does not pass through our computers.
The domain name policy for .no defines which requirements must be met before we can delete a domain name against the holder’s wishes, see paragraph 11 of the domain name policy. The requirements are strict and apply to a very small selection of cases. All of these have reference to the registration itself, not to the use of or the content within the domain. The domain name policy is determined according to the Domain Regulation. The Domain Regulation is under provision of the Law on Electronic Communication, note especially § 7-1.
Norid does not have the authority to delete or shut down a domain name except from the cases specified in the domain name policy. Deletion due to supposed illegal content is not within our mandate.
Deleting a domain name is a significant intervention that can have great consequences for the individual business as well as for society as a whole. Removal of a domain name will always affect everything within the domain, and it may also affect other domain names. To give an example: If we delete uio.no because a student has published illegal content on one of the websites belonging to the University of Oslo, a deletion will affect the entire university. All email addresses, all webpages and all services connected with uio.no will eventually stop working. This includes the services belonging to the university’s computer emergency response team, UiO CERT, whose domain name is cert.uio.no. Taking this theoretical example a step further, if sio.no, the domain name belonging to The Foundation for Student Life in Oslo (SiO), has its name servers set up within uio.no. A deletion of uio.no will then also terminate all activity within sio.no.
It is not possible to know beforehand how many email addresses, webpages, subdomains and services a given domain name hosts.
Even if a domain name is deleted from the DNS, it does not immediately result in one hundred percent unavailability to the public. Depending on how the network provider produces their name service, other customers who have their Internet access through the same provider might continue to have access to the websites and services for a while, even if the domain name has been deleted. This goes for email, too. In addition, spammers have methods where they link directly to a machine address (IP address) instead of going via Norid’s database to reach the website.
The only technically certain way to render a website completely inaccessible to others, is to delete the site itself. It is also possible to remove the whole domain by deleting it from the name servers. This can only be done on the computers where the domain or the content is hosted, usually by the Internet Service Provider (ISP).
If you discover illegal activities on a website
- Contact the domain name holder
In Norid’s whois database you will find names and contact information for all .no domain name holders. The holder is responsible for the use of the domain name and any content published on the website.
- Contact the registrar or the ISP
Norid’s database may be useful here as well. By clicking on the field REGISTRAR HANDLE you will find out who the registrar for the domain name is. The registrar and the ISP are often identical. Norwegian ISPs tend to have their own rules for what kind of content their customers may publish on the Internet and they usually have their own abuse teams that can help you.
- Contact the police
If you believe that the activities on the website are so serious that it is urgent to get the content removed or the service shut down, you should contact the police. You may at the same time consider whether to inform the domain name holder that you have contacted the police and that you will bring charges. This will often be enough to get the content removed.
- Interim court order
If it is very urgent to get the website shut down, it is possible to get an interim court order. This is a legal action which is used to avoid damages or inconvenience until a legally binding court decision is made, something that usually takes a long time. We strongly recommend that you contact the police in these cases, too.
In a motion for an interim court order, you have to state your name and the name of the organisation that is responsible for the website, as well as both parties’ addresses and phone numbers if at all possible. When you present the case, you must explain which website you want shut down and provide the reasons for your claim, as well as documentation. You should also explain how the shutdown should be done, e.g. by removing the name servers, a particular webpage or the entire domain. In closing, you formulate a statement of claim that in few and presice words say what you would like the court’s decision to be. In addition you may state a claim for coverage of your costs. The motion, along with any enclosures, must be delivered in four signed copies to the local court (tingrett) where the organisation has its address. It is advisable to get assistance from a law practitioner to draw up the motion.
Keep in mind that the court may demand that you can guarantee economic security for your claim, e.g. if shutting down the website will have economic consequences for the domain name holder.
If we receive a court ruling that a domain name is to be deleted, e.g. in the form of an interim court order, we will follow up immediately under provision of the domain name policy for .no.
If you believe that you have discovered illegal content on a website within a .no domain, we recommend that you follow this procedure: