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Comment on Preliminary Task Force Report on the Purpose of Whois and ,of the Whois Contacts

  • To: whois-comments@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Comment on Preliminary Task Force Report on the Purpose of Whois and ,of the Whois Contacts
  • From: "GNSO.SECRETARIAT@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx" <gnso.secretariat@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2006 16:54:44 +0100

From: OrtmeierJ@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:OrtmeierJ@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Wednesday, February 08, 2006 9:36 AM
To: whois-comments@xxxxxxxxx
Subject: Comment on Preliminary Task Force Report on the Purpose of Whois and
of the Whois Contacts

To Whom It May Concern:

I am intellectual property counsel for the American Red Cross charged with
protecting the AMERICAN RED CROSS and RED CROSS trade names. The American Red
Cross is a non-governmental, humanitarian organization, led by volunteers, that
provides disaster relief to victims of disasters and helps people prevent,
prepare for and respond to emergencies. Since 1905, the American Red Cross
name has been protected by statute in the United States, now codified as 18
U.S.C. §§ 706 and 917. In 1999, the United States Congress protected the
American Red Cross from bad faith registration of domain names containing the
RED CROSS name and the trafficking in or use of such domain names on the
Internet by incorporating the American Red Cross statute (18 U.S.C. § 706) into
the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. §
1125(d)(1)(A)(ii)(III). The American Red Cross owns and maintains a number of
websites, including websites containing the words RED CROSS. The American Red
Cross' public website is www.redcross.org <http://www.redcross.org/> . In
2004, www.redcross.org <http://www.redcross.org/> averaged over 1.5 million
successful hits per day with an average of over 904,000 unique visitors to its
www.redcross.org <http://www.redcross.org/> website each month in 2004.

Pursuant to its statutory authority, the American Red Cross has actively
pursued websites, domain name registrations and e-mail campaigns that have used
the RED CROSS name without authorization, including those directing donations
to websites other than those authorized by the American Red Cross. During my
tenure at the American Red Cross, hundreds of unauthorized third parties have
registered domain names containing the words RED CROSS. In particular,
national disasters like September 11th and Hurricane Katrina or international
disasters like the Southeast Asia tsunami resulted in significant spikes in the
number of third parties registering domain names containing the words RED
CROSS. By way of example, in the days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall on
August 25, 2005, the following domain names were registered by third parties
unaffiliated with and unauthorized by the American Red Cross:

o     www.katrinaredcross.com <http://www.katrinaredcross.com/>

o     www.donateredcross.com <http://www.donateredcross.com/>

o     www.red-cross-help.com <http://www.red-cross-help.com/>

o www.americaredcross.org <http://www.americaredcross.org/>

This is a very limited sample of unauthorized domain names registered in the
days after Hurricane Katrina. Many of the unauthorized websites at domain
names containing the words RED CROSS fraudulently solicit donations. As
another example of the egregious nature of some of these unauthorized
activities, a third party registered www.american-redcross.org
<http://www.american-redcross.org/> in the days after the Southeast Asia
tsunami and then proceeded to cut and paste the donation page from
www.redcross.org <http://www.redcross.org/> to the new, unauthorized web site
at www.american-redcross.org <http://www.american-redcross.org/> . The two
donation pages (one legitimately belonged to the American Red Cross, the other
was fraudulent) were nearly identical.

The American Red Cross uses Whois data to shut down the web sites conducting
these unauthorized and fraudulent activities. The owners, once discovered by
the American Red Cross, will often shut down their web sites within minutes of
receiving an email from the American Red Cross. At the height of disaster
response, the American Red Cross often discovers these unauthorized web sites
within days of the RED CROSS domain name being registered, and it is not
uncommon that the American Red Cross can get the web site shut down within
hours, thus mitigating the number of victims who unknowingly give money or
personal financial information (credit card numbers, bank account and PIN
numbers, etc.) to web sites that are not affiliated with the American Red Cross.

For the owners that do not willingly (or immediately) shut down their web
sites, the American Red Cross often notifies the owner's hosting company (found
through the Technical Contact details of Whois records) and/or the domain name
registrar to alert them to the unauthorized and/or fraudulent activity being
conducted by the domain name registrant/owner. Lastly, the American Red Cross
uses Whois data to further investigate these unauthorized and fraudulent
activities and ultimately assist federal, state and local law enforcement. All
of these uses of Whois data fall outside the scope of Formulation 1 in the Task
Force preliminary report. Without accurate Whois data, the American Red Cross
is incapable of shutting down unauthorized and fraudulent RED CROSS web sites
quickly enough so as to minimize the impact on American Red Cross donors, the
victims of the disasters and the public at large - all of whom are impacted
when members of the public, intending to support the victims of a disaster by
contributing to the American Red Cross' disaster relief fund, instead
unknowingly give their money and financial information to someone perpetrating
a fraud.

If ICANN adopts Formulation 1 as the purpose of Whois and subsequently revises
its contractual policies to conform to Formulation 1, the American Red Cross
will no longer have the information it needs to quickly shut down unauthorized
and fraudulent RED CROSS web sites. The number of victims unknowingly using
these unauthorized RED CROSS web sites to donate after a disaster will likely
increase, and the money will not reach its intended target - the victims of the
disaster. In the long run, reduced public confidence in the integrity of
online donation sites could reduce the ability of the American Red Cross, and
similar organizations, to use the Internet to raise funds quickly and
efficiently to help disaster victims and respond to emergencies.

I urge ICANN not to adopt Formulation 1.

Respectfully submitted,

Julie A. Ortmeier

Senior Counsel

American Red Cross

2025 E St., N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20006

Phone (202) 303-5356

Fax (202) 303-0146


This e-mail message contains information from the Office of the General Counsel
at the American Red Cross and may be confidential or privileged. The
information is intended to be for the use of the individual or entity named
above. If you are not the intended recipient, be aware that any disclosure,
copying, distribution or use of the contents of this e-mail message is

If you have received this e-mail message in error, please notify me by
telephone (202) 303-5356 or by reply e-mail (OrtmeierJ@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)
immediately and delete this e-mail message from your computer.  Thank you.

Glen de Saint Géry
GNSO Secretariat - ICANN

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