NameCheap, the domain registration portal, has now banned registrations for domains containing “Coronavirus” or “Vaccine”. Related words that were banned include “COVID” or “COVID19” or other variations. The reason that NameCheap has banned domains with vaccine or COVID in the title is apparent. They are trying to prevent fraud and abuse from unscrupulous entrepreneurs looking to take advantage of people during a pandemic.
During these trying times, when people are looking for answers on the internet, misinformation is rampant. At this time, so much misinformation is floating around, trying to capitalize on the pandemic. Hence, fraudulent sites and businesses that pretend to have cures or miracle vaccines for the virus have appeared. This move will help block such sites from being registered in the first place by banning them. Hence, no available domains will be made public to register.
NameCheap has announced that it is carrying out the purge of such sites with authorities. They are trying to prevent and take down the fraudulent domains spreading false information. This statement was emailed to its customers recently.
However, it maintained that legitimate companies would still be able to apply for domain names. They would have to go through their support team to review and register manually.
The Ban was Prompted by a Texas Judge
The Los Angeles-based NameCheap Inc. made the decision to ban such sites after a Texas judge’s ruling. The ruling removed a website that was accused by the DOJ of stealing credit card info for fake coronavirus testing kits.
The site offered alleged WHO vaccine kits for a shipping charge of $4.95. The site, called coronavirusmedicalkit.com, harvested credit card information through a domain registered on NameCheap. This order made NameCheap ban Coronavirus domain names out of both ethical and financial responsibility. The owners were listed as John Doe in the court papers. The phone number registered was in Panama.
This is not nearly a singular act though. Other companies like Amazon, eBay, and other sellers and resellers have also instituted similar measures. They have removed listings that make false claims for curing or testing for COVID-19. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have also begun working together to take better stances on moderating misinformation.
Not Everyone Is Participating
However, other companies like Toronto based Tucows Inc. hasn’t done anything to prevent this. It has also not removed virus-related keywords from its customer-facing search engine. It is flagging COVID and corona domains for review.
Similarly, the largest US domain registry business, GoDaddy.com hasn’t adopted a similar policy. It has simply stated that it has a “human review process that effectively detects and disrupts fraudulent content.”