Stalemate Continues on Hiding WHOIS Info

“Proposed changes that would have shielded some of the personal information stored in the Internet’s WHOIS database from public view were indefinitely shelved last month, after a working group failed to reach agreement on how or even whether to implement the privacy reforms,” says a report in ComputerWorld.Privacy advocates were advocating for less information to be available, while “companies and law enforcement agencies that depend on WHOIS information to go after phishers, cybersquatters, spammers and other online miscreants” were more than happy with the status quo.From the company side of things, it “is about confidence and trust in using the Internet,” according to Lynn Goodendorf, vice president of information privacy protection at InterContinental Hotels Group. While privacy advocates baulked “at the unfettered access, on the grounds that it could expose people to spam and unwanted surveillance. For years, they have called on ICANN to adopt new rules that would enable Web site owners to avoid having their names and street addresses published in the database.”The task force set up to investigate changes and subsequently reconcile differences between the commercial and privacy sides, proposed an approach called operational point of contact, or OPoC. Under this system, as ComputerWorld reports, “registrars would have continued to collect contact information as part of all domain name registrations, but the addresses of registrants would have been shielded from public view. The exceptions would be cases in which law enforcement authorities or companies and other trademark owners demonstrated a valid need to see the data.”John Levine though says that although only a small percentage of domain names are registered by individuals, and while there’s a need to address their privacy concerns, “it is absurd to cripple all of WHOIS for the putative interests of this tiny group.”However this proposal failed to gain broad support within ICANN with, among other things, “concerns about how the exceptions process would be handled, and when and under what circumstances access to the data would be granted, said Milton Mueller, a professor at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies and a partner in the Internet Governance Project consortium.”To read the full ComputerWorld article, see computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=printArticleBasic&articleId=302552

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