Njalla: anonymous service for domain names

Piratebay founder Peter Sunde bounces and launches Njalla a new anonymization service on the internet. This one is intended for the people who want to reserve the domain name a perfectly anonymous way. Is it legal?

It’s not always easy to bounce back when you’ve been convicted in the Piratebay trial. Peter Sunde continues however to launch projects of companies, with a more or less relative success. He had thus launched Flattr, before announcing recently that this service had been ceded to Eyeo , the publisher of Adblock Plus. A way to have free rein for a new project, called Njalla. The name comes from a tradition of the Sami people, whose tradition is to build huts on stilts to preserve their property.

This new service is an anonymization tool for users who would like to register a domain name. Concretely, the new company of the founder of Piratebay offers to play the men of straw for its users: Njalla offers its users to book for them the domain names they want to acquire, and agrees to leave them the rights to ‘use.

An extra level of anonymity therefore, which makes it difficult to find the owner of a domain name using the Whois service generally used to that data. For the registrar, the client and holder of the domain name will be Njalla, and the offices will not have information on the identity of the end user.

Many registrars offer anonymization tools to protect the identity of the holder of a domain name. But as often, this anonymity can be lifted under different conditions, including a judicial requisition or via a request for disclosure of personal data. Means often used to find the identity of the owner of a site containing for example illegal content. But Njalla seems determined to offer an anonymous service, difficult to circumvent for the authorities.

Njalla, the service that will not sway you?

In any case, the business model of the company raises questions. As recalls AFNIC interviewed by us, the association responsible for the management of domain names in .fr, the practice already exists in some registrars who offer proxy services to declare themselves holders for their clients. Njalla goes further and offers a service where the registrar himself does not know the identity of the end user, unlike a proxy service offered by the registrar.

A situation that may ultimately expose problems, warns AFNIC: “The owner who would like to hide from the registry would simply risk not to be in our possession, and have no rights to the domain name. He will in fact have given everything to the company that holds in his place. So Njalla will have to prove trustworthy, otherwise users will desert his service.

Another pitfall that could pose problems to the new initiative of the founder of Piratebay: its location. Indeed, the headquarters of the company Njalla is located on the island of Nevis, a Caribbean island known for being a tax haven. As stated by Afnic, which manages the attribution of .fr domain names, it is impossible for a company based outside the EU to register a .fr domain name, which limits to a certain extent the resort to Njalla.

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