Can a webmaster legally hold you to ransom?

Well, the answer to that question is – it depends. This question crops up everytime a website business owner decides to change his service provider, for whatever reason, and move to another. Frequently, though admittedly not always, the estranged web officer will not ‘release’ his client willingly, and will ask for a preposterous sum of money prior to allowing said client to access his account. Frequently webmasters will shift the domain of the business asset to their hosting account. For the purposes of this article it is entirely irrelevant whether the domain is transferred to the webmasters own servers or to a third party web hosting service. In so doing, they will unceremoniously proceed to lock out their client from his domain since they would be the only ones to have the password to that account.

But the domain name, as well as the content of the website belong to the owner and no one, no webmaster, no third party has the right to take possession of that domain name and use it as if it were his own without the owner’s consent. Asking for money whilst holding on to access to your domain is theft of intellectual property and under our system of laws is both a civil as well as a criminal offense.

If you would like to instruct yourself further on this question of theft of intellectual property and the extent to how widespread and entrenched this form of extortion in this area of the internet industry is we suggest that you read this article by Christopher Heng published on