Terrorism Victims Wanting Control Of ccTLDs Appeal US Court Decision

Posted in: Domain Names at 16/12/2014 18:23

In November, a US federal court that ccTLDs are not "subject to attachment" in a case brought by victims of terrorism. However the plaintiffs are now appealing that decision.

The victims of terrorism in the case came from Israel and the United States. They sued to have the assets of the Iranian (.IR), Syrian (.SY) and North Korean (.KP), (as well as internationalised TLDs for Iran and Syria) ccTLDs seized for compensation have failed.

The federal court ruled that the ccTLD's "at issue may not be attached in satisfaction of plaintiffs' judgements because they are not property subject to attachment under District of Columbia law."

The court ruled that under District of Columbia law their attachment is not permissible. However the court also noted that even though ccTLDs may not be attached, it did not mean they cannot be property. In a footnote, "the Court concluded that ccTLDs may not be attached as a matter of District of Columbia law, there are no factual disputes that require further consideration. Therefore, the Court denies the plaintiffs' motion for discovery as moot."

The federal court ruling agreed with ICANN's legal filings in the case. ICANN sought to quash the writs of attachment citing ICANN's technical coordination role in the domain name system (DNS) and arguing that ccTLDs are not subject to attachment.

At the time ICANN noted they were pleased with the ruling.

"We are pleased that the court ruled in our favour on the grounds that the ccTLDs are not property, subject to attachment", said John Jeffrey, ICANN's General Counsel and Secretary. "The court's ruling demonstrates a technical understanding of the DNS, and the role of ccTLDs in the single, global, interoperable internet.

Should the appeal be successful, it could set a precedent and mean countries, in this case Iran, North Korea and Syria, could lose control of their ccTLDs. The case was brought by families who have won American federal court judgments that amount to more than a billion dollars against the Iranian government seek to own all the TLDs provided by the US to Iran including the .ir TLD, the '̱'F TLD and all Internet Protocol (IP) addresses being utilised by the Iranian government and its agencies. The court papers were served on ICANN.

The case followed earlier cases brought in the US by the terror victim plaintiff/judgment holders against Iran. The districts courts repeatedly ruled that the suicide bombing and shooting attacks perpetrated by the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist organisations in Israel were funded by the Islamic regime through MOIS. However, although the families have received compensatory and punitive damage judgments against the defendants, Iran refused to satisfy the court awards. Iran has been designated by the Department of State as an outlaw nation that provides material support and resources to terrorist groups worldwide since 1996.

For more details on the case, including an interview with one of the plaintiff's lawyers, see Kieren McCarthy's article in The Register here.


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