Guilty by Association?

While we usually make it our business to stay out of other people’s business, a company which used us in the past has come under the spotlight in the media.

This has caused me to do some of my own investigating about their business of Domain Privacy Protection. The Australian would have readers believe that PrivacyProtect and HotSnail are linked to Russian Spies and Terrorism, because when they registered their internet domain, they checked the box that protects their identity from their public WHOIS record.

The privacy protection feature is offered by most domain registrars and is used by about 20% of registered domains (from a random sample of 1600 domains in a study in 2013 by ICANN), largely to protect their personal details from spammers, identity theft and other unwanted use of their personal information.

When the media uses words like terrorist, or Russian spy’s it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion and overlook the details, such as the so called link here.

PrivacyProtect’s privacy protection service subscribed to HotSnail’s mail service and some of the millions of domain registrants who subscribed to privacy protection happened to be for websites associated with criminal or terrorist activity, and according to The Australian, this qualifies as a notable link.

Is this not akin by being linked by your sisters, aunties, and father-in law’s neighbour who went to the same school on a different year? Or the link between a terrorist using gmail, and an owner of a datacentre hosting a gmail server?


I would like to know what you think. Should HotSnail screen its customers more carefully or is this just a case of sensational journalism?

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