#Privacy: Domain registration companies take steps to combat fraudulent COVID-19 websites

US domain registration companies are taking action against coronavirus related fraud. 

One of America’s largest US domain registry companies, GoDaddy has revealed that it has taken down numerous fraudulent websites as part of its “human review process.”

A GoDaddy spokesperson said: “We do not tolerate abuse on our platform and our Universal Terms of Service (UTOS) gives us broad discretion to act on complaints, and this includes COVID-19 abuse. To date, our teams have already investigated and removed COVID-19 fraud sites in response to reports, and our vigilance will continue long after the COVID-19 crisis comes to an end.”

Another hosting provider, Namecheap Inc., has stopped the automated registration of website names that reference the global health crisis. 

Namecheap CEO Richard Kirkendall sent out an email to customers on March 26, informing them that the company would be removing terms such as “COVID”, “coronavirus”, and “vaccine” from the company’s domain availability search tool. 

Whilst employees can still manually register legitimate domains, Kirkendall explained that the company would be working with authorities to “proactively prevent and take down any fraudulent or abusive domains or websites related to COVID19 or the Coronavirus.”

Toronto-based firm Tucows Inc., a retail registration business, is flagging all “covid” and “corona” domains for manual review. The company is on the lookout for sites mentioning fake COVID-19 cures or tests.

These efforts followed after the New York Attorney General wrote to Namecheap, GoDaddy and other major US registrars on March 20, requesting them to take measures against the illegal use of coronavirus domains. 

Kim Berger, chief of the New York Attorney General’s internet and technology bureau, said that the companies all responded: “All have pledged a desire and intent to cooperate with us.”

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