Press release: Entrepreneurs must tread warily around domain registration

Published on: 2010-02-01

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Many entrepreneurs remain unaware of the risks that they could expose their businesses to by entrusting the registration of their website and email domains to the wrong person or organisation.

That’s according to Ant Brooks, ISPA General Manager. He said that many small business owners are not aware of the correct procedure to follow to register a domain, in whose name their company’s domain is registered, or even what it means to register a domain.

“As a result many small businesses have unwittingly opened themselves up to a range of business risks,” said Mr Brooks. “In one recent case, a business partner in a small business asked the Internet service provider to take complete control of the company’s domain after he had a dispute with his partner. As a result, he could shut down all email and Web traffic, essentially crippling the business pending the resolution of the dispute.”

This case is by no means unusual. There have been a number of other instances where a business partner, employee, web developer or Internet Service Provider has registered a domain of a company under their own name, giving themselves effective control of the domain.

In some cases, they ask for maintenance charges or apply unfair mark-ups on the domain fees, said Mr Brooks. In other cases, complications arise when there is a dispute between a company and the party has registered the domain name on its behalf. For example, if the company tries to terminate a business relationship with the party that registered the domain name, it might respond by demanding domain transfer costs at an inflated fee.

“In other cases, the party that has hijacked the domain could take advantage of the company’s brand by pointing the domain at their own website, selling competitive goods or services,” he added. One’s email and Web traffic could be completely disrupted, effectively cutting you off from the world of electronic communications.

Mr Brooks advises companies to approach a reputable ISP and ask it to register the domain on their behalf, with explicit instruction to have their names listed as the registrants, giving them custodianship and mitigating the risks of it being held for ransom.

When setting up your online presence it is imperative that the domain name be registered correctly, particularly the registrant should reflect the correct details. To query your domain’s registration details go to, and ensure the entry in 2a is accurate. The domain name registration form can be found at and for further information on how to register a domain visit

South Africa has an established registry operator – UniForum SA – for the CO.ZA Internet domain name. UniForum, in consultation with the Minister of Communication, has developed the Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) for the resolution of domain name disputes. Details about ADR can be found online at

Finally, a useful resource is the page of ISPA (Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA) members that register client domain names:

Further Information

For further information, please contact the ISPA secretariat on the Contact ISPA page.