UK domain name registry Nominet has been given a June date for its legal action in Australia against two businessmen over an alleged data mining attack on its WHOIS database.
The UK organisation is also bringing action under Australian fair trade laws over letters sent to thousands of UK domain holders.
According to Nominet, the data mining attack was first discovered in January 2003 and involved thousands of queries from multiple sources on the database, which provides details of domain name registrants.
Nominet said the aim of the attack was to capture address details of its domain name registrants.
In February 2003 the registry began getting reports from hundreds of domain holders who had received "what appeared to be an invoice" from a company called UK Internet Registry Ltd.
Nominet said it was concerned that these letters could mislead people into believing they came from the organisation, as similar stationery was used.
The company said in a statement: "It was also noticeable that many of these 'invoices' replicated spelling mistakes in the Nominet register, which suggested they had been copied from the company WHOIS."
Nominet claims its copyright in the WHOIS database has been infringed by the data mining, and said the invoices issued were misleading and contrary to the Australian Federal Fair Trade Practices Act and the Western Australian State Fair Trade Act.
The respondents in the action are Bradley Norrish and Chesley Rafferty and companies UK Internet Registry Ltd (a Seychelles company), Internet Payments Pty Ltd and Diverse Internet Pty Ltd (both Australian companies).
"They harvested the names and addresses on our database and we had hundreds of people call, email and send us money. This breach is too serious to not take action," a Nominet spokeswoman told vnunet.com.
Rafferty and another affiliated company, Domain Names Australia (DNA), were found guilty in the Federal Court of Australia earlier this month of false representation.
DNA had sent out mailshots to more than half a million businesses in Australia soliciting for domains, or variants of domains, that they already held or had held previously.
Rafferty and DNA were barred from sending further related letters for three years.
The action was brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the equivalent to the Office of Fair Trading in the UK, and auDA, which manages the .au domain
Neither Rafferty or Norrish had replied to requests for comment at the time of going to press.
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