Facebook’s parent company, Meta, has taken legal action against Freenom, a domain name registrar based in the Netherlands. The lawsuit accuses Freenom of facilitating cybersquatting and providing a safe haven for cybercriminals, including phishers and cyber-squatters. Freenom is alleged to have ignored complaints from Meta regarding abuse and to have profited from the traffic to abusive domains by reselling them and redirecting visitors to commercial or malicious websites.
Freenom manages five of the most abused country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) in the phishing business, including .cf, .ga, .gq, .ml, and .tk. These ccTLDs were identified as among the top ten most abused domains by cybercriminals in a 2021 EU study on phishing.
Meta’s lawsuit accuses Freenom of facilitating cybersquatting violations and trademark infringements, and seeks to identify 20 unknown customers who have been active in launching phishing attacks against Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp networks and users. Freenom provides free domain name registration services while protecting customers’ identities, even after receiving evidence of illegal activity on registered domains.
This is not the first time that Freenom has faced consequences for facilitating cybersquatting practices. In 2015, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) suspended Freenom’s ability to provide new domain registrations for 90 days. However, Meta’s lawsuit alleges that Freenom has continued to facilitate cybercriminal activities and has failed to take appropriate measures to investigate and combat abuses.
Meta initially tried to sue Freenom in December 2022, requesting that the case be sealed to limit public access to documents, but the request was denied. The company has now refiled the lawsuit in a Northern California court. Freenom has not yet released a public statement on the lawsuit, and its free domain registration service appears to be unavailable for unknown technical reasons.