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Canada's New Policy Will Privatize Whois Data for .ca Domains

Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) has posted its 'Change of Privacy Status' which now includes the following:

Currently, when a domain name is entered into the CIRA WHOIS look-up service, the name of the Registrant and the personal information about the contact(s) for that domain name, such as their address and telephone number, is made available to the public.

As of June 10, 2008 the dot-ca (.ca) WHOIS will no longer release information about individual Registrants and their Adminstrative and Technical contacts, providing more thorough privacy protection for many of our Registrants.

Read full story: External Source

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Re: Canada's New Policy Will Privatize Whois Data for .ca Domains By Gary Osbourne  –  Apr 22, 2008 2:12 am PDT

The Read Full Story link to External Source at the end of the article actually points to an internal link of trademarkblog.ca which seems to belong to Clark Wilson LLP "BCs [SIC] Law Firm for Business". Not surprisingly, these IP lawyers and supporters don't much care for the new rules, they don't seem to much care for CIRA either.

As I (that is, as fnord on ICW) pointed out back in 2004, CIRA was doing this at least partly due to a then aborning Canadian Federal privacy act. IANAcaL but this act more or less made it a requirement that CIRA act as it did. Of additional interest to me is what I questioned back then, what of those Canadian-based registrars of gTLDs? ICANN has gone some small way towards addressing that issue, they're still maybe going to study it [pdf. pgs. 3-4], and as I said back then all it would take is for someone to make a claim to the Canadian Privacy Commission about a Canadian-based gTLD registrar (of which there are scads, there were over 100 back in 2004), for things to get more interesting. As near as I can tell, that hasn't been tried yet.

What I have always found baffling is how does one separate an individual from a business, as CIRA does for different privacy levels, and as ICANN's last WHOIS study suggested before it died aborning. If I have an individual site, wholly owned (rented if you'd rather) and managed by me, and I add affiliate links or banner ads which give me a net profit (as many 'individual' sites do), at what point do I become a commercial entity?

OTOH, I did some work a few years ago for a Canadian-based anti-racist site, one of the largest such sites online by most metrics. I was more than a little surprised that all their WHOIS information was accurate and in the clear, not least because the site had been created by an otherwise well informed geek, and not least because the organization (it is a registered society or NGO) had already had their President's home and car firebombed, with a similar attempt made unsuccessfully on their office, any of which could have been fatal. I don't know if the WHOIS played a role in any of this, it certainly could have, but they are now using their lawyer, who has a thick skin, for WHOIS data.

So under CIRA's new rules (and what could still become ICANN rules) such an org still has to put out WHOIS data for a non-profit entity (which loses money) and I can have a private WHOIS (and make money). Who draws that line and where as to what is an individual or corp? And how and when and why? And where does the IP lobby get off thinking that some entity's domain name sanctity bears more weight than someone's life and limb? I just don't get it. Mebbe I should just individually mirror the anti-racist site. And then put up affiliate links or banner ads. Just kidding on that last part. -g

Re: Canada's New Policy Will Privatize Whois Data for .ca Domains By go2ao  –  May 01, 2008 9:00 pm PDT

People need to know what CIRA actually is. The actual purpose of this policy is to make it difficult for private as distinct from corporate registrants to sell .CA domain names, the former which is a legal problem for CIRA. Read the registration rules! Registrants agree that CIRA is the ultimate domain "owner" of all .CA domain names, while the slobs who register .CA names and pay for them are merely occupants of what amounts to an item of intellectual "property", emphasis on property, where property rights are not transferred to registrants. Registrants agree to abide by CIRA rules which are numerous and prolific when they register a domain - i.e., they have to "join" CIRA and, thus, abide by CIRA rules even while (a) CIRA sells the domains but claims it has not actually sold anything to registrants who have merely "joined" CIRA; and (b) third parties who pay CIRA to register their domains often do not realize that they have agreed to forfeit their rights under the terms of their contract with CIRA. Registrants own nothing. This means that the whole exercise is a sham to begin with precisely because CIRA arrogates unto itself the actual "ownership" of all CIRA domains regardless of the fact that third parties have paid for them and "actually" own them, notwithstanding CIRA's double talking contract. That fact, double talking bullshit in the contract, is a bind for CIRA because what CIRA is doing with the ownership part of the "sale" of domain names might be found to be unlawful in Canada in the event that a registrant tested the CIRA "ownership" policy which to date (and so far as I know) has not been tested in court. Even the "legitimacy", if one can call it that, of CIRA itself rests on a single letter from the Government of Canada rather than any actual entitlement to sell. dot CA domain names. Therefore, and on balance, private registrants of .CA domain names are less likely to have the means to test the matter if CIRA tried to block, interfere with, or otherwise rescind the rights of a private .CA registrant to his or her own intellectual property, notwithstanding the contract. Corporations (of course)are much more likely to have the legal means to challenge CIRA on property rights and, thus, CIRA has exempted business registrants. Keeping private registrations out of the view of the rest of the world to some extent mitigates the problem because potential .CA domain name registrants will have difficulty trying to identify third party "owners" from whom they might wish to purchase a domain. Ergo: far less potential from a law suit that tests the ownership provision in the contract. Of course CIRA is still interfering in the marketplace, but that's a different matter. Potential registrants need to keep the actual ownership issue in mind when they register CA domains. Caveat Emptor!

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