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directNIC Demands SlicksNetwork.com Hand Over Model IDsBy: Steve Javors (Courtesy of XBIZ.com)
New Orleans – In a move that could indicate further scrutiny by domain registrars, directNIC has demanded that TGP operator SlicksNetwork.com hand over model IDs on all performers it suspects are underage.
In an email sent by Intercosmos, directNIC’s parent company, and obtained by XBIZ, law clerk Juli Silver Green requested that SlicksNetwork.com submit all state issued photo IDs that clearly show the face and date of birth of the models.
Green threatened the site with closure if the site’s publisher doesn’t comply by Dec. 18. DirectNIC imposed a lock on the domains it alleges have questionable content, preventing the owner from transferring them to another registrar.
SlicksNetwork.com’s owner Slick said that directNIC does not host his sites, it just serves as the registrar. SlicksNetwork.com contains 14 TGP sites that link to sponsor programs.
First Amendment attorney and Free Speech Coalition Chairman Jeffrey Douglas said the ID request is unprecedented, and more importantly, a violation of privacy laws. According to Douglas, the request is illegal, and also could have a chilling effect on the free speech of webmasters that deal in legal teen content.
“This is a blatant and absolute violation of privacy laws,” Douglas told XBIZ. “There’s absolutely no legal liability for the registrar if underage models appear on a website. DirectNIC is an officious intermeddler.”
Upon receiving a complaint of child pornography, there are legal courses of action for directNIC to take, Douglas said. Since it has no legal right to obtain personally identifiable information from the website’s models, the company should have alerted the proper legal authorities, but instead it decided to take the law into its own hands.
The FBI, the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children operate hotlines for the reporting of child pornography.
“The bottom line is that if [directNIC] received a complaint about child porn, there are a numerous avenues for them to report it to the proper legal authorities,” Douglas said. “DirectNIC has no remote prayer to legally justify their request. They are licensed to provide a service — not to police content. I would think that upon hearing this, most adult companies would transfer their domains [away from directNIC] immediately.”
Douglas continued, “Again, under federal law they have no right to these documents, so now they have no protection from civil liability. They are immune from policing content under the law, but now by doing so they have created liability. DirectNIC is lawlessly intruding into their business.”
According to directNIC General Counsel David W. Nance, upon receiving a warranted complaint of child porn, the company takes action by either immediately shutting down the domain or conducting an investigation.
“In most cases when there is a confirmed report of child porn, directNIC takes immediate action and shuts down the domain names because it is blatantly obvious that the customer is offering child porn,” Nance told XBIZ. “However, not every case is clear cut. The letter was intended to notify the customer of the potential issue that was reported to directNIC. This does not mean that the domains contain child porn; it only means that an investigation was commenced — i.e., we want to make sure that we do not facilitate the trading of child porn online.”