In a previous article we discussed what happens when parties to a UDRP dispute request to have their names redacted from the Panel’s decision before publication. Unless the Panel decides that there is an exceptional circumstance requiring redactions, its decision must be published in full (see paragraph 16(b) of the ICANN Rules).
Sometimes, typically Respondent will sometimes request redactions of their names in their submissions to the Panel. Sometimes a complainant will do it for them when they feel it is unfair to have the Respondent’s name dragged into the case.
Supplemental rules for some UDRP providers have mandated that if these requests are to be made, they must be made in according to certain rules. See for example, The Forum’s Supplemental Rule 15(b) – “all requests… to have a portion of the decision redacted, must be made in the Complaint, the Response, or an Additional Submission that is submitted before the Panel’s decision is published.”
But does this mean that to make redactions, there must first have been a request for those redactions? The answer is no. Panels can make redactions ‘of their own motion’ if they deem it to be necessary. This could happen if, for example, redactions ought to be made in the interest of fairness to a Respondent.
In the case of OSilas Foundation v. Redacted for Privacy the Respondent claimed to be a victim of credit card fraud and identity theft which lead to the disputed domain name being registered in their name. The respondent consented to the transfer of the domain name but did not request redactions. It is plainly fair to redact the name of a person who would not be party to the dispute but for the theft of their identity. In this case, the Respondent’s name was redacted by the Panel in the absence of a request to do so. This issue has to be treated carefully because Respondents will sometimes consent to a transfer of the domain name or claim identity theft simply in order to avoid an adverse finding being made against them and possibly sustaining reputational damage. This is not a legitimate reason to request redactions or to consent to the transfer of the domain name and Panels will have little sympathy for Respondents in this respect if that is the basis on which they put their request.
If a Respondent is claiming identity theft, credit card fraud, or any other unlawful activity that caused their involvement in the case, they should bring as much evidence for it as possible to unlock the benefit of redactions.