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Illegal activities on the Internet  Open all

From data theft to hacker attack to DoS attack, blackmail or deliberate data breaches: The manifestations of illegal activities on the Internet and the resulting damages are manifold. Typical examples for this are:

  • Spam: The mass mailing of undesired e-mails. 
    (e.g. http://www.internet4jurists.at/e-mail/e-mail.htm)
  • Phishing: The forging of websites or e-mails in order to make Internet users disclose their secret access data (e.g. bank data). (compare Wikipedia Phishing)
  • Fraud: For example, when products ordered and paid online are not delivered.
  • Credit card fraud: In this case, forged or stolen credit card data is used to cause the card holder financial harm. (compare Wikipedia credit card fraud)
  • Identity theft: means that someone uses someone else's identity to gain advantage or obtain relevant data (e.g. credit card information, bank account details, ...). (compare Wikipedia identity theft
  • Illegal pornography
  • Identity theft or abuse (i.e. Wikipedia Identity theft)
  • Utterance offences: such as slander or defamation of character

As a general rule, it is important to keep one's eyes open on the Internet and not to trust everyone – just like in the offline world, where we are sceptical of people we don't know and we don't entrust anyone with our data (e.g. the pin code to our bank card) or with our money without a certain measure of security, just because they promise to, for instance, deliver us a product. 

If you still become the victim of a crime, you can always take recourse to the options available under the rule of law and file complaint with law enforcement agencies. Generally, however, it should be emphasised that the operator of websites or the sender of e-mails is accountable himself and must therefore accept responsibility for any possible infringements.

So what applies outside of the Internet naturally also applies to the "Internet World". The Internet is not a legal vacuum! 

Here are some examples of organisations that aim to create awareness with regard to illegal activities or contents on the Internet: www.internetombudsmann.at , www.saferinternet.at , www.cert.at , www.stopline.at 

In the event of illegal activities in the Internet and illegal content, a distinction needs to be made between the website and the domain. As the issuing agency/registry of .at domains, nic.at does not offer any technical or content services, such as web space or name services, and therefore has no influence on the contents of a website. As a rule, these services are offered by an Internet service provider with whom the domain holder concludes an additional contract. Hence, the operator of websites or the sender of e-mails is independently accountable and must therefore accept responsibility for any possible legal infringements.

Here is an overview of the possible reasons why nic.at does not simply cancel a .at domain:

The contractual relationship between the domain holder and nic.at relates exclusively to the domain. It includes no further additional technical services that can be used in the context of illegal activities (e.g. e-mail, URLs, content of the webpage, etc.)

The domain name itself is not an infringement (e.g. trademark law, ...)

The illegal act is constituted by the website content only and is not related to the domain.

Often there are illegal contents in the Internet under links with 5, 6, and even 7 sub levels that are not in the contractual scope of nic.at (e.g. http://www.ich.bin.eine.betrügerische-webseite.at).

nic.at is not a court, or authority, or similar, that would be in a position to judge whether a website is being used for illegal activities or to infringe on third-party rights. It is also important to exclude any form of censorship.

Experience shows that websites are often hacked to use sub-pages for illegal activities. As a result, nic.at would need to assess a situation that does not correspond to its area of operations.

It is especially important that nic.at is by no means authorised to take the place of the executive authority or a court.


If you could not find an answer to your question, please feel free to contact our customer service department : +43 662 46 69 -850.