Nothing Has Changed: Website Retailers Selling Domains Meant for Illicit Goods and Services, Digital Citizens Alliance Investigation Finds

Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 9:00 AM EDT

WASHINGTON , June 21, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Domain names geared to offer illicit goods and services – from illegally purchased guns to opioids to Covid vaccine cards – remain easy to acquire from leading registrars and domain brokers, a Digital Citizens Alliance investigation has found.

Logo for the Digital Citizens Alliance. Digital Citizens is a consumer-oriented coalition...
Logo for the Digital Citizens Alliance. Digital Citizens is a consumer-oriented coalition focused on educating the public and policy makers on the threats that consumers face on the Internet and the importance for Internet stakeholders - individuals, government and industry - to make the Web a safer place. (PRNewsFoto/Digital Citizens Alliance) (PRNewsFoto/DIGITAL CITIZENS ALLIANCE)(PRNewswire)

The findings of the "Peddling for Profit" report are troubling and show that, despite warnings, little has been done to prevent the sale of website domains designed for illegal activity. Just last year, Digital Citizens investigators raised alarms about the ease with which registrars and domain brokers enabled the creation of websites designed to profit from illegal and/or illicit activities.

Little stands in the way of bad actors being able to create websites – such as buyillegalassaultweapons.co – designed for illegal activity.

When Digital Citizens sought sketchy domains such as covidvaccinecardsforsale.net, brokers that help acquire previously registered names asked no questions even when investigators informed the broker of the intent to "market to the unvaccinated who want Covid cards."

A decade after the opioid crisis went from bad to catastrophic, domains offering the drugs -without a prescription - are easily attainable. Digital Citizens registered buyopioidswithoutrx.biz. And while many Americans are victimized by ransomware or other cyberattacks, registrars make it easy to acquire domains such as Malwareforsale.com.

"An online business starts with a website. Leading registrars such as Namecheap, GoDaddy, and Network Solutions and brokers such as VPN and Domain Agents show an alarming disregard whether the business is legitimate or illicit, our investigation found," said Tom Galvin, Executive Director of Digital Citizens. "At a time when too many dangerous things are available online, it's time for these website retailers to step up and show responsible business practices."

Americans are looking for these website retailers to step up. Eighty-two percent of Americans said that they want companies selling tech services to business websites to regularly verify the identity of the company operators, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by Digital Citizens. In addition, 54 percent reported that if companies met these obligations, they would protect consumers from scammers, hackers, and thieves.

"There may be a debate in our country over gun ownership – but Americans overwhelmingly agree that guns should not be sold illegally online. And while there has been a debate over Covid vaccines, all responsible people would agree that vaccine cards shouldn't be sold online," added Galvin. "There is a clear line – and these website retailers are on the wrong side of it."

To read the Peddling for Profit report, go to:
https://www.digitalcitizensalliance.org/clientuploads/directory/Reports/DCA-Peddling-For-Profit.pdf

To view the YouGov polling, please visit the appendix of the report.

For more information, contact:
Sydney Drayton, sdrayton1221@gmail.com, 978.210.7500

About Digital Citizens

The Digital Citizens Alliance is a nonprofit, 501(c)(6) organization that is a consumer-oriented coalition focused on educating the public and policymakers on the threats that consumers face on the Internet. Digital Citizens wants to create a dialogue on the importance for Internet stakeholders—individuals, government, and industry—to make the Web a safer place. Based in Washington, DC, the Digital Citizens Alliance counts among its supporters: private citizens, the health, pharmaceutical, and creative industries as well as online safety experts and other communities focused on Internet safety. Visit us at digitalcitizensalliance.org.

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SOURCE Digital Citizens Alliance

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