I&JPN Secretariat Issues Framing Brief on Addressing COVID19-Related Abuse at the DNS Level

Published on
April 23, 2020

The I&JPN Secretariat Framing Brief aims to help those Domains Name System  (DNS) Operators who are taking proactive measures to tackle COVID19-related abuse at the DNS Level. The document includes a set of structuring critiera and highlights the threshold to be met for action as imminent harm to the public.


As with other emergencies (natural disasters, terrorist incidents), the COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to opportunism and activities spreading misinformation and fraud (including through spam or phishing). As previously highlighted by the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network in an Educational Resource, action at the DNS level has a global impact. It is also not specific enough to limit access to individual pieces of content. Action at the DNS level is thus justified only if a particularly high threshold of abusive activity or content is met. Accordingly, in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, some DNS Operators may choose to take action on a voluntary basis to prevent fraud and abuse when it poses an imminent threat to public health. 

Building on interactions with Members of the Domains & Jurisdiction Program Contact Group, the I&JPN Secretariat has developed a Framing Brief providing a common framing criteria for DNS Operators taking proactive measures to tackle COVID19-related abuse at the DNS level. 

The Criteria is structured around five major themes:

1) Justification for exceptional action 
2) Identification
3) Evaluation
4) Action
5) Recourse

The pandemic brings to the fore some important and concrete issues in direct relation to the work of the stakeholders in the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network. The I&JPN Secretariat has prepared this Framing Brief to trigger meaningful discussions between actors in relation to COVID-19. Tackling COVID19-related abuse at DNS Level through common criteria, will help all stakeholders to design the most appropriate solutions.

The Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network is the multistakeholder organization addressing the tension between the cross-border Internet and national jurisdictions. It engages over 300 entities from governments, the world’s largest internet companies, technical operators, civil society groups, academia and international organizations from more than 50 countries.

For more information about the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network and the work of the Domains & Jurisdiction Program see here.