Domain names

Deletion of a domain by the Consumer Protection Commission

Author: Preslav Baldzhiev

The dynamic growth of e-commerce leads to the creation of more comprehensive legislation. This is one of the reasons for the latest amendments to the Consumer Protection Act, which allows the Consumer Protection Commission (hereinafter referred to as “the Commission” or CPC) to delete domains in case of violations – a power that only the Commission can exercise.

What is a Domain?

A domain is a unique string of symbols that serves as a replacement for and is associated with the IP address of a website. In other words, a domain is the address of a website that a user types in the browser to visit the website. The convenience of using a domain is clear and without unnecessary explanations – remembering a few randomly generated numbers is far more difficult than remembering a word that is associated with the activities of a provider.

What is the role of the Commission?

According to Article 190e of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), the Commission has been selected as the Single Liaison Office, making it responsible for coordinating the implementation of Regulation 2394/2017 for the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria. At the same time, it was elected as one of the competent authorities for the implementation of the acts of the EU for the protection of the interests of consumers under Article 190d of the CPA. The other competent authorities are:

  1. Bulgarian Drug Agency;
  2. Communications Regulation Commission;
  3. Directorate General “Civil Aviation Administration”;
  4. Commission for Protection of Competition;
  5. Executive Agency “Railway Administration”;
  6. Council for Electronic Media;
  7. Executive Agency “Maritime Administration”
  8. Executive Agency “Road Transport”
  9. Bulgarian National Bank;
  10. Ministry of Tourism;

In which cases does the Commission have the right to delete a domain?

According to the provisions of the CPA, the Commission has the right to delete the domain of an infringing trader only as a last resort. In order to reach this sanction, a long process has to go through, starting with referral or self-referral to the relevant competent authority (one of the eleven competent authorities mentioned above). The Consumer Protection Commission can be contacted by submitting a complaint or signal through its website or in person at the CPC. The legal deadline for reviewing complaints is 1 month.

Once the competent authority has carried out the necessary investigation and established the infringement, it shall determine the sanction to be imposed on the infringing trader. If this penalty does not lead to the cessation of the infringement, the competent authority has the possibility to send a reasoned request to the Consumer Protection Commission requesting the Commission to issue an order obliging the trader to “remove content or to restrict access to an online interface, or to warn explicitly consumers when they access the online interface of the said trader. If the Commission is the competent authority, such a request is not necessary.

Failure to comply with the order or failure to achieve the desired result will lead to the issuance of a new order obliging the “hosting service provider and the undertakings providing public electronic communications networks and/or services to remove, disable or restrict access to an online interface“. Hosting service providers shall be notified immediately of the order issued, and undertakings providing public electronic communications networks/services shall be deemed to have been notified from the moment the order is published.

If this order is also not complied with or does not lead to the cessation of the infringement, the Commission issues a new, third-order obliging the “domain registrars” to delete the full domain name of the trader responsible for the infringement. If the registrars do not comply with the order, they are subject to a sanction in the amount of between BGN 1,000 and 5,000. The deleted domain may be re-registered only if the infringement is terminated and with the agreement of the Commission.

Each of the orders is published on the website of the Consumer Protection Commission on the day of its issuance and is subject to execution within three days. Orders may be appealed by the concerned trader, but this does not suspend their execution unless the court orders so.

This material prepared by Preslav Baldzhiev aims to provide more information about the deletion of a domain by the Consumer Protection Commission. It does not constitute a legal opinion and cannot be interpreted as individual consultation on any concrete facts or circumstances. The advice of a specialist should be obtained for specific questions and situations. For more information on the above-mentioned issues and individual consultations, please contact the team of the law firm of Krasimira Kadieva at 00359 882 308 670 or make an inquiry using the contact form of the website. Since 2017 Preslav Baldzhiev is a law student at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski “, having previously graduated from the High School of mathematics and natural science “Acad. Nicola Obreshkov” in Burgas. In February 2020 he took a course for industrial property representatives at the Patent Office of the Republic of Bulgaria in the field of trademarks, geographical indications, and industrial designs. He is interested in intellectual property, personal data protection, commercial and law on obligations and contracts and also regularly attends conferences, practical courses, seminars, and webinars.

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