Today a letter was submitted to the President of ICANN, Paul Twomey, at the ICANN Carthage meeting, "asking him to ensure that strong privacy safeguards, based on internationally accepted standards, are established for the WHOIS database."
Latest reports indicated that the draft letter had been signed by about 50 nonprofit groups and represented 21 countries on six continents. "Signers of the letter included the American Library Association, the U.S. Association for Computing Machinery, the Australian Council for Civil Liberties, Electronic Frontier Finland, Privacy Ukraine, and the United Kingdom's Foundation for Information Policy Research."
As ICANN tries to decide how to balance domain name owners' privacy with accountability, this coalition effort emphasized the fact that ICANN "has failed to establish corresponding protections for personal information that is provided. As representatives of Internet users around the world, we are keen to ensure that the policies developed for the WHOIS database respect the freedom of expression and the privacy of every individual who registers Internet domains."
The following is an excerpt from the letter:
"First, for domain name registrars to compel registrants to disclose personal information, even information related to domain registration, poses dangers to freedom of expression and privacy on the Internet. Many domain name registrants--and particularly noncommercial users--do not wish to make public the information that they furnished to registrars. Some of them may have legitimate reasons to conceal their actual identities or to register domain names anonymously. For example, there are political, cultural, religious groups, media organizations, non-profit and public interest groups around the world that rely on anonymous access to the Internet to publish their messages. Anonymity may be critical to them in order to avoid persecution.
Second, WHOIS data should not be available to just anyone who happens to have access to the Internet. It is well known that broad access to personal information online contributes to fraud such as identity theft. US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advises consumers to protect themselves from identity theft, and generally from Internet-related frauds, by not disclosing personally identifiable information. The mandatory publication of WHOIS data is contrary to the FTC's advice.
We urge ICANN to consider the views of consumer organizations and civil liberties groups on the WHOIS. At a minimum, we believe that adequate privacy safeguards should include the following principles:
|Cybersquatting||Policy & Regulation|
|DNS Security||Registry Services|
|IP Addressing||White Space|
Minds + Machines