Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Internet Administrator Criticized for Not Cracking Down on Illegal Online Pharmacies
October 28th, 2014/

Critics charge the Internet’s central administrator is not doing enough to crack down on illegal online pharmacies, The Wall Street Journal reports. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) says its powers are limited.

This summer, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) worked with Interpol and many other countries to try to close down more than 1,300 websites suspected of selling drugs without a prescription. Officials sent a list of the websites to the Chinese company that registered them, the article notes. The company said it could not take action against the sites.

The officials then asked ICANN to act. The organization is continuing to investigate the matter, ICANN said earlier this month. Since February, 4,700 suspicious drug-selling websites have been reported to the group, and about 4,000 are still online, according to LegitScript, which tracks online pharmacies.

ICANN could help crack down on illicit Internet operators, according to regulators and law-enforcement agencies. The organization manages technical functions and oversees registrars that sell Web addresses.

ICANN’s Chief Executive, Fadi ChehadĂ©, says critics do not understand the group’s role and what it can do. He compared ICANN to a motor-vehicle department. “We authorize a group of license plates to registrars to do business,” he told the newspaper. “I’m not responsible for what happens in the car.”

According to an investigation by The Wall Street Journal, thousands of complaints about online pharmacies and other sites piled up for months because ICANN stopped maintaining one of its computer systems in 2012.

Axelle Lemaire, France’s Secretary of State for Digital Affairs, says the organization’s “lack of transparency is very worrying. When it comes to selling illegal drugs online, it’s the health of world-wide citizens at stake.”

Daniel Burke, a special agent in the FDA’s cybercrime investigations unit, said ICANN “closes complaints, and they don’t say why, and the websites are still operating. It’s really quite frustrating.”

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