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NTIA Nixes Privacy Protection in Whois

Milton Mueller

Many registrars have gotten complacent about reforming the Whois-Privacy relationship. After all, they can sell additional privacy protection to their subscribers for an extra $5-10. Seems like a perfect "market oriented" interim solution, as the so-called "bottom up" policy development process of ICANN figures out how to provide tiered access.

Not so fast. The US Government is making it clear that when the bottom up policy development process starts going in a direction it has already decided it doesn't want, then measures will be taken. And as evidence, Enom has sent a message out to its resellers that .US has made a dramatic change in their policy.

"The United States Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration ("NTIA") has recently completed its review of "proxy" or anonymous domain registration services by .us Accredited Registrars. At the conclusion of this review, NTIA directed NeuStar to phase out the offering of such services by Registrars or by any of its partners or resellers and to ensure that complete and accurate WHOIS data is provided for any existing registrations in .us."

"Although we disagree with this policy, [ERnom continues] we will comply and will require our resellers and sub-resellers to make the necessary changes. Therefore, we will prohibit the offering of eNom's ID Protect or similar services to .US registrations. This policy takes effect immediately and ONLY applies to .US registrations.

The service will continue to be provided for existing .US ID protect customers until their ID protect expiration date or January 26, 2006, whichever comes first."

This development is important not only for its implications for Whois policy, but also for its implications for ICANN's autonomy and its relationship to the US Government - something people in WSIS and WGIG ought to be taking a close look at. More about that later.


By Milton Mueller, Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology School of Public Policy
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Related topics: DNS, ICANN, Privacy, Whois
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Re: NTIA Nixes Privacy Protection in Whois privacy_lover  –  Feb 11, 2005 12:03 PM PDT

Last year, in Senate hearing, Mr. John Kneuer
testified "it has been suggested that the responsibility for DNS technical management may shift to a UN agency as a result of WSIS. Let me take this opportunity to clarify that neither the WSIS nor the subsidiary discussions regarding Internet governance are chartered to take action or to yield an international treaty with binding obligations. Rather, the WSIS is a forum for discussions among interested parties that may yield proposals in the area of Internet governance. Further, the Department does not believe that any existing UN body, such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) or the UN ICT Task Force, is qualified to assume the responsibilities currently held by ICANN for the technical coordination and management of the Internet domain name system."

Then, what happens?

Re: NTIA Nixes Privacy Protection in Whois James Seng  –  Feb 12, 2005 6:09 PM PDT

Milton,

How do you expect ICANN to tell NITA what to do with .us as much as ICANN can tell SGNIC what to do with .sg?

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