City of London Police's demand for domain registrars to seize selected domain names may have opened these registrars to potential legal sanctions, as the controversial domain seizures may have been against the well established web policies that deal with domain names.
Earlier this week, registrars suspended domain names belonging to ExtraTorrent, SumoTorrent and other related websites, at the prompting of London Police. The registrars were under no legal order to seize these domain names, instead, London Police had simply requested these registrars to take action at their own discretion. These seizures, now under enhanced media and legal scrutiny, may not have been completely by the book, it now appears.
Under policies set by ICANN, the internet authority in charge of setting rules for domain names, a registrar can only seize a domain name if it receives a "court order by a court of competent jurisdiction", or if the domain name was obtained fraudulently.
But as London Police have since revealed to TorrentFreak that no legal proceedings are underway against the affected websites, the registrars that took action may have breached ICANN policies by not allowing their rightful owners to transfer to another registrar.
The owners of ExtraTorrent, one of the suspended domain names, is already threatening to sue domain registrar PDR Ltd.
Critics have labelled these seizures as worrying, with the police, possibly using information provided by copyright holders, seemingly bypassing due process and scaring private businesses into taking, potentially illegal, action.