Protecting yourself against internet abuse in the Netherlands and in gTLDs

Even if you've taken all the sensible precautions, there's always a danger that cybercriminals will use your company's brand name in a scam. The possibility of (spear-)phishing, fake webshops, CEO fraud and other abuses can't be totally excluded. So what should you do if the worst does happen? A swift response is vital. Here's our guide to your options in various scenarios. It's important to note that there are differences between .nl and the gTLDs, such as .com, .info, .net, .org.

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1. Does a site have unlawful or criminal content?

Seen a website that's using another organisation's name without permission? Then tell the organisation whose name is being abused. If you think a site's content is illegal, call the police on 0900 8844 (from the Netherlands). If you want a site or page taken down, follow this procedure:

If the site or page has a .nl address:

The Notice-and-Take-Down Code is the Dutch internet industry's voluntary code of conduct for dealing with unlawful and criminal website content. It was developed so that inappropriate content and/or domain names can be removed quickly. The procedure begins with the content provider. That's the person who put up the video, or article, or whatever is at the centre of the problem. Approach them before doing anything else. If they don't take down the content, go to the next person or organisation in the list, and so on. Approach people in this order: 1. The person who put the content on the internet (the uploader or writer) 2. The website manager 3. The registrant 4. The registrar (hosting service provider) 5. The registry (SIDN for .nl)

The order has been chosen carefully, starting with the people that can do most for you. We can't actually take down a website; we can only make it hard to reach by disabling the domain name.

If we receive a request to take down content, we follow our Notice-and-Take-Down Procedure. Want to know more about complaining about website content?

If the site or page has a gTLD address:

There is no global code of conduct like the Dutch code for dealing with unlawful and criminal content. The following approach is common, but the outcome isn't assured.

Report the abuse On the ICANN website, you can use the Whois to look up the abuse contact e-mail address and phone number for any gTLD domain. You can then report the abuse using the appropriate contact details. In most cases, your report will go to the registrar that manages the registration. When reporting an issue, it's important to clearly state who you are and who you're acting for. You should also be able to show that you're authorised to act for the organisation in question.

2. Has someone registered a domain name that uses your brand name or trading name?

Before doing anything else, it's best to try to work something out with the registrant. Reaching an agreement will save everyone a lot of trouble. If you can't find a solution that suits you both, here's what to do:

If it's a .nl domain name:

WIPO dispute resolution system Dispute resolution is usually cheaper, easier and faster than going to court. An impartial legal expert decides the case, instead of a judge. The expert is appointed by WIPO: an independent agency active in fields such as intellectual property rights, brand names and domain names. Before a case goes to WIPO, we see whether a mediator can help. A mediator can get involved only if the registrant responds to your complaint. A mediator's role is to help you and the registrant look for an agreeable solution. Mediation is always voluntary and there are no additional costs. For details of how it works and when it starts, download the Dispute Resolution Regulations and read the explanatory notes. Going to court You can always ask a court to order the registrant to stop using the disputed domain name, or to give it to you.

If it's a gTLD domain name:

URS procedure The URS is a fast, low-threshold system for settling intellectual property disputes involving gTLD domain names. It's an abbreviated procedure that doesn't enable you to get control of a disputed domain name. Read the URS procedure. Download the complaint form. UDRP procedure The UDRP is for fully settling intellectual property disputes involving gTLD domain names. If you win your case, you can get control of a disputed domain name. Read the UDRP procedure. Download the complaint form.

3. Seen a domain name that goes against public order or decency?

In the Benelux, domain names are almost never refused on the grounds of public order or decency. Elsewhere, it depends on the culture.

If it's a .nl domain name:

It's some years since a .nl domain name was last refused on public order or decency grounds. Nevertheless, if you think a name is unacceptable, you can report it to the Complaints and Appeals Board (C&AB).

If it's a gTLD domain name:

There is no international body that considers public order and decency complaints.

4. Incorrect Whois data

The information about the registrant recorded in our database of .nl domain names (the Whois) has to be correct. Abusive registrations are often made using false data. So, if a domain name's registrar (domain name vendor) can't show that the data is correct, we may ultimately cancel the registration.

If it's a .nl or .amsterdam domain name:

.nl If you come across a domain name with incorrect Whois data, mail details to or call +31 26 352 5555. We'll investigate and see whether anything needs to be done. Do you subscribe to our Domain Name Surveillance Service (DBS)? Then you can report a .nl domain name using the 'thumbs down' icon.

.amsterdam Noticed that the Whois data for a .amsterdam domain name is wrong? Please contact dotAmsterdam.

If it's a gTLD domain name:

Use the Whois Inaccuracy Complaint Form on ICANN's website to report a problem with a gTLD domain name. ICANN will then ask the registrar (domain name vendor) to correct the details recorded for the registrant. If that doesn't happen, ICANN can order the registrar to rectify the problem. The inaccuracy complaint procedure has a very low threshold.

Brand abuse on the internet is a real nuisance. It creates problems for your customers and staff, and it tarnishes your company's image. So it's important to act quickly in order to minimise the damage.


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