Facebook is suing a domain name registration company OnlineNIC in California court on the grounds of "cybersquatting." OnlineNIC has been accused of registering domain names that pretended to be affiliated with Facebook and hiding the identity of the owners of those names. Facebook fears domain names such as www-facebook-login.com and facebook-mails.com may appear legitimate and confuse people.
"We don’t want people to be deceived, so we track and take action against suspicious and misleading domains, including those registered using privacy/proxy services that allow owners to hide their identity," said Jessica Romero, Director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation at Facebook.
Facebook said tens of millions of domain names on the web have been registered privately. Romero added: "We proactively report instances of abuse to domain name registrars and privacy/proxy services and often collaborate with them to take down these malicious domains."
"By mentioning our apps and services in the domain names, OnlineNIC and ID Shield intended to make them appear legitimate and confuse people. This activity is known as cybersquatting and OnlineNIC has a history of this behaviour," Romero added.
Facebook justified the action taken against OnlineNIC citing the lack of cooperation from domain name registrars and privacy shield services.
Facebook also said that domain name registrars and proxy services neither investigate nor respond to abuse reports, further enabling bad actors to pursue malicious activities and causing delay to the company's efforts to "fight fraud and abuse."
In related news, Facebook is also suing an Israeli software company NSO Group for cyber espionage, hacking into 1,400 WhatsApp accounts with the help of highly sophisticated spyware. The controversy intensified after WhatsApp on Thursday said Indian journalists and human rights activists were among those globally spied upon by unnamed entities using an Israeli spyware Pegasus.
Meanwhile, the government has categorically told WhatsApp that it wants the platform to bring in a mechanism to enable tracing of the originator of messages, a demand that WhatsApp has resisted citing privacy issues. The government is also working on tightening rules of social media companies in India that will increase the accountability of online networking and platforms.