Two years back, when I wrote the article “Is Net4India closing down”? , I thought it was meant only to stimulate the company into gearing itself towards improving its service deficiencies. At that time I had got some information from some of the employees that things were not good and the promoters have not been mostly staying abroad etc. However, I did not anticipate that my question would be revisited after 2 years and there will be lot more people who are facing serious issued on account of the company unable to service its customers.
At a time when Internet is considered a fundamental right and Digital India requires promotion, a company which holds the domain name registrations of thousands of persons, hosted data, digital identity information, content of immense value etc., is threatening to walk away leaving the customers in the lurch.
From information available, it appears that some creditor of the company has filed a bankruptcy application and some consultant must have taken charge of all its assets without knowing the criticality of continued service. Presently services where there is an inflow of money to Net4india such as renewals are being attended to. But any request for domain name transfers, issue of Authentication codes or change of registration information etc is not being attended to. It is possible that the physical office of Net4India might have become dysfunctional and only some of its servers are running.
There are companies which have hosted their websites and e-mail services with Net4India and finding it difficult to maintain their services.
Several affected persons have written to me and also posted comments on the articles published in this blog enquiring about the status.
I have taken up the issue with the ICANN’s country head Mr Samiran, the upstream ICANN registrar, OpenProviders of whom Net4India is said to be a reseller as well as the MeitY and NIXI.
So far the responses from them are not satisfactory. Mr Samiran has promised to find a resolution. Open Provider has expressed its inability to take care of the re-seller’s clients on ethical grounds and MeitY/Nixi is maintaining its customary silence.
Since the net result of Net4India failing to provide the contracted services to its customers is “Denial Of Service”, it is a contravention under Section 43 of ITA 2000 and therefore comes under the jurisdiction of the Adjudicators under ITA 2000.
It also automatically qualifies as a Section 66 offence.
The Company has not provided any response to the various queries of the customers and not provided any reasons for discontinuing its service other than the Covid related notice they have put up.
Who ever is the complainant under the Bankruptcy proceedings and the consultant who is attending to the proceedings are part of the problem and have caused the denial of access though they may have some legal excuses of their own. But since they have not provided any public notice so far, it must be presumed that they are not interested in disclosing their interest. By remaining silent, they are forcing the public to make payments to a suspected insolvent company which would be a fraud on genuine customers of Net4India.
I have invited a few of my advocate friends to assist the customers of Net4India in raising the issue with appropriate authorities.
I believe that MeitY has the ability to find a solution and they are ignoring the travails of the public. There is need to make MeitY realize that we cannot allow the Internet Governance system to be run without making the licensed registrars take responsibility for properly winding down their business if need be.
Just as when small Banks go for bankruptcy, RBI and Government bails them out, here is a case to organize the take over of the part of Net4India business by another operator so that the services can be continued.
Meity has all the powers in this regard in respect of dot in domain names and additionally can exercise its persuasive power to also address the other domain name registrations and business with Net4India.
If a notification is required from MeitY under Section 79 of ITA 2000 since Net4India is an intermediary, it can be done immediately.
I request all the affected persons to come together and form a “Forum of Net4India Customers” so that a collective action can be taken. Initial facilitation for getting people together can be done by Naavi.org and interested persons can send a one page note indicating their name, address, with e-mail and mobile particulars along with the brief note on their issues. It will be forwarded to appropriate advocates for follow up.
I am requesting some advocates in Bangalore, Mumbai, Nagpur and Delhi to take up the issue with the Adjudicators.
Please contact me without delay.