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Preparing for GDPR's Impact on WHOIS - 5 Steps to Consider

Elisa Cooper

With GDPR coming into effect this May, it is almost a forgone conclusion that WHOIS as we know it today, will change. Without knowing the full details, how can companies begin to prepare?

Communicate Changes – First and foremost, ensuring that brand protection, security and compliance departments are aware that a change to WHOIS access is on the horizon is an important first step. Just knowing that the ability to uncover domain ownership information is likely to change in the future will help to relieve some of the angst that is likely to occur.

Leverage Reverse WHOIS Now – Secondly, take advantage of Reverse WHOIS tools while the data they contain is still meaningful. Regardless of whether you use Reverse WHOIS to uncover rogue registrations, identify other infringing domains for UDRP filings, or for due diligence in support of mergers and acquisitions, run your searches now given that the quality of this data is likely to degrade over time.

Don't Delay - Take Action Against Infringing Domains – Take action now against infringing domains while access to ownership information is readily available. It's expected that in the future, brand owners and law enforcement will still be able to request contact information, but this could be a more onerous process. Will ICANN's new model allow for tiered access - at this point, we just don't know.

Understand Changes to Online Brand Protection Solutions – For those companies that have online brand protection solutions in place, begin working with your providers to understand what impact they are expecting, and how they are planning to support changes to WHOIS.

Stay Informed – With ICANN poised to introduce an interim WHOIS model, companies can stay informed by visiting icann.org/dataprotectionprivacy. Given the short timelines, it's expected that ICANN's interim model will be released shortly.

Undoubtedly, there are still so many unknowns regarding the impact of GDPR on WHOIS — but preparing now can help to relieve some of pressure likely to be caused by the changes to its format.

By Elisa Cooper, SVP Marketing and Policy at Brandsight, Inc.
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