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Act against internet domain name registrars not complying with court orders

The Delhi High Court has directed the Centre to immediately take action against certain internet domain name registrars (DNRs) for not complying with its orders and consider whether they ought to be permitted to continue to offer their services in the country.

Justice Prathiba M Singh asked the central government lawyer to file a status report on the action taken by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) while noting that DNRs are bound by the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 and thus have to ensure compliance of court orders.

“DNRs, which are not giving effect to the orders of this court, i.e., NameCheap Inc./Defendant No.13, Dynadot LLC/Defendant No.14, Tucows Inc./Defendant No.16, Gransy s.r.o./Defendant No.17, and Sarek Oy/Defendant No.18, since DoT and MeitY are present before this court, they are directed to immediately take action within one week against these DNRs for non-compliance of the orders passed by this court,” the court said in its order dated November 9.

“The authorities shall also look into the question as to whether these DNRs ought to be permitted to continue to offer their goods and services in India, if they are not giving effect to orders of Indian courts and not complying with the applicable laws under the Information Technology Act, 2000, and the 2021 Rules,” the court stated.

The court’s order came on a lawsuit by Star India Pvt Ltd against the illegal streaming of Asia Cup cricket tournament by certain online platforms.

In August, the court had passed an ex-parte interim injunction order restraining infringement of the plaintiff’s exclusive rights to broadcast the content in question and asked the DNRs to disclose the details of the rogue domain names.

Subsequently, the court was however informed that five DNRs have not complied with the directions, rendering the injunction orders ineffective.

In its 13-page order, the court observed that all DNRs have to abide by court and official orders and are also obligated to appoint grievance officers as per the law to ensure their compliance.

“This court reiterates its prima facie view that all DNRs have to abide by and give effect to orders passed by competent courts, government authorities, etc. Moreover, all these DNRs mentioned above and in respect of which directions have been passed by the court, are offering their services and products in India and are bound by the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

“Under the said rules, they are also obligated to appoint grievance officers to ensure compliance of the orders passed by this court, which they clearly appear not to have complied with,” the court noted.

The Centre said that if the court has passed suspension and disclosure orders, the DNRs ought to have taken action in accordance with law. It added that DNRs may be accessible through VPN networks, which permits streaming of infringing content to continue.

The matter would be heard next on January 11. PTI

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