[LINK] ICANN C'tee Recos Whois Database Privacy Rules

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Sat Mar 24 09:02:30 AEDT 2007


[3] ICANN Committee Endorses Privacy Safeguards for WHOIS Data

On March 12, 2007, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and
Numbers (ICANN)'s WHOIS task force issued its Final Report on WHOIS
Services. The task force considered two different approaches to limiting
the public availability of WHOIS data, and endorsed the Operational
Point of Contact (OPoC) proposal, which would remove registrants'
mailing addresses, phone and fax numbers and email addresses from the
Whois database, and replace this information with an "operational point
of contact" who would contact the registrant in the case of an issue
with the domain name.

EPIC submitted comments to ICANN supporting the Operational Point of
Contact proposal to limit access to registrants' information.  EPIC
stressed that current WHOIS policies requiring the publication of
personal information conflict with national privacy laws, and reach
beyond the original technical purpose of WHOIS, putting individual
registrants at risk of spamming, phishing, and identity theft. However,
EPIC also stated that while the OPoC proposal does provide more privacy
safeguard than currently exist, it does not go far enough. According to
EPIC, registrants' names and/or countries should be removed from public
access, because anonymous registration of domain names may be critical
for political, artistic and religious expression.

The OPoC proposal met with much resistance from the intellectual
property community, who considers WHOIS data an important tool for
trademark enforcement and investigation of infringing and/or fraudulent
web sites. The OPoC proposal's initiators acknowledged EPIC's statement
that the name and country of registrants should also be removed, but
stated that "in the interests of preserving the existing compromises"
made by the task force, the name and country information will remain
publicly available.

Also on March 12, the Article 29 Working Party issued a letter to ICANN
expressing its support of the OPoC. Similar to EPIC's comments, the
Working Party pointed to conflicts between current WHOIS practice and EU
legislation and international guidelines, and concluded that
non-commercial users' names and countries should only be published with

The Final Report will be discussed at the upcoming public ICANN meetings
in Lisbon on March 26-30, 2007.  The GNSO Council will then make a
policy recommendation to the ICANN Board.

Final Task Force Report on WHOIS Services:


Article 29 Working Party Letter to ICANN (pdf):


EPIC's Comments on Preliminary Task Force Report:


EPIC's WHOIS page:


Roger Clarke                  http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/

Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in Info Science & Eng  Australian National University
Visiting Professor in the eCommerce Program      University of Hong Kong
Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW

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