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ICANN Proposes Policy Changes To Remove Privacy Protection Around Domain Name Owner Info
Details that currently can be listed as private - like an owner's name and address - could be made public under the new policy.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reports ICANN is currently considering a domain name policy change that would make domain owner information for commercial sites public record.
Right now, domain owners can choose not to have their contact information publicly listed in the domain registration database WHOIS – instead, replacing details with proxy information to protect their privacy.
Under the proposed changes, a domain owner’s information would no longer be kept private for commercial sites – the big question being, how ICANN will determine whether or not a site is deemed commercial.
“Sites that run ads have been judged as commercial in domain name disputes,” says EFF. If ICANN chooses a similar definition to determine whether or not a site is a commercial website, many domain owners may lose their privacy rights.
The EFF says the proposed policy change is being fueled by the entertainment industry, citing U.S. entertainment companies lobbied against domain registration privacy in Congress earlier this year.
Right now, companies must seek a court order to obtain domain registration information when trying to track down website owners accused of copyright and trademark infringement. Under the proposed policy changes, entertainment companies could avoid the need for a court order if all domain information is publicly listed.
The limited value of this change is manifestly outweighed by the risks to website owners who will suffer a higher risk of harassment, intimidation and identity theft. The ability to speak anonymously protects people with unpopular or marginalized opinions, allowing them to speak and be heard without fear of harm. It also protects whistleblowers who expose crime, waste, and corruption. That’s why EFF opposes the new proposal to roll back anonymity.
The EFF says ICANN has already received thousands of comments regarding the proposed domain name policy changes, and that comments are being accepted by ICANN through July 7th at: firstname.lastname@example.org.