Facebook has filed a lawsuit against the domain trader Namecheap and its proxy service Whoisguard. The reason for this are 45 domains registered via the services, "aimed at deceiving users by pretending to be connected to Facebook applications," writes Facebook lawyer Christen Dubois in a message. Namecheap accuses Facebook of wanting to violate the privacy of its customers and circumvent legal protection measures.
Facebook regularly scans for domains that violate their trademark rights, explains Dubois. Facebook had become aware of domains such as instagrambusinesshelp.com, facebo0k-login.com, whatsappdownload.site and 42 others that were registered via Namecheap and protected by Whoisguard.
With the proxy service, domain owners can protect their data such as name, home address, telephone number and email address: Although these are recorded by Namecheap, they are not saved in the publicly accessible Whois database. Namecheap stores the data of the proxy Whoisguard there. In this way, domain owners would "Spammers, Marketing Companies and Online Scammers" protected, Namecheap describes the service. Other domain providers such as Gandi or Njalla also offer similar services.
To get the data of the domain owner, Facebook sent requests to Namecheap between October 2018 and February 2020, however "Despite their obligation to provide information about domains that infringe trademark rights, (Namecheap) declined to cooperate," Dubois writes. Therefore, Facebook has now filed a lawsuit. Facebook already filed a similar lawsuit against the registration authority OnlineNIC in October 2019.
However, Namecheap emphasizes that they do not voluntarily disclose the protected data of their Whoisguard customers, but only with a court order. Facebook has tried to bypass this legal protection with its inquiries, Namecheap writes in a blog entry.
"We actively remove proven abuse of our services on a daily basis. If there is no clear evidence of abuse or if it is a mere allegation of a trademark violation, Namecheap instructs complainants such as Facebook to follow the industry-standard protocol," said Richard Kirkendall, CEO of Namecheap. Facebook may be willing to violate the privacy of its customers on its platform in this way, but Whoisguard protects its customers' data.