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Icann tries to stop Iran domain being seized and given to Hamas terror victims

The web overseer Icann or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, has asked a US court not to transfer the web space of Iran, Syria and North Korea to the families of victims of terrorism.

The .ir, .sy and .kp domains would be used to compensate the families of four Americans injured by a suicide bombing in Jerusalem in 1997, for which Hamas claimed responsibility.

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The families, who sued Iran because of its support for Hamas won its case by default, after the Middle Eastern country did not defend itself in 2003, and were awarded $109 million (£65 million) in damages.

Since then, the group has been trying to obtain Iranian assets that reside in the US in an attempt to collect the cash. Icann, however, claims that seizing the web domains would render them worthless and therefore unable to provide compensation.

It is not clear, why the group is also claiming ownership of the North Korean and Syrian domains.

Icann has asked for the seizure bid to be "quashed" but added that it had "great sympathy" for the victim's claim.

The organisation oversees the running of the Internet's addressing system and explained that seizing the domains would be "largely self defeating" as it would remove any value they had.

The value of country code domains derives from their use by numerous companies, individuals and other organisations that run a website using that particular suffix.

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In its court papers, Icann claimed that transferring the domains "would simply destroy a resource utilised by the Internet community."

It also stressed that even if the domains were seized, the courts had no technical means to transfer the running of them to the family members.