CyberTech Rambler

April 25, 2006

Victory for Whois Database Privacy

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:17 am

EPIC is carrying news about an important victory on the privacy of Whois database (the international database holding the information about owners of domain names), the body incharge of defining the policy on the use of Whois database (Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO)), decided that the Whois database is only to be used for the administration of the Domain Name. As EPIC points out, the ruling means that Whois data will not be expanded for other purposes, such as law enforcement and copyright investigations.

I am not arguing that the proposed "other" purposes of Whois Database has no merits, but they compromise the original purpose of Whois Database. While the Whois Database is by no means 100% accurate, allowing the database to tbe used for the purposes stated simply encourage people to hide their identity. For example, it encourage me to anonymized my detail not because I am involve in criminal activity, but simply to protect myself from unnecessary harrassment from authorities. The irony is, I do not think that I have  to save myself from the authority of the land I live in, but from other authorities who might take a dislike to my activity and has access to the Whois database.

I hope that the next step will be to restrict access to the whois database to the relevent people who has to perform the duty of Domain Name Registration. This will encourage Domain Name owner to supply accurate information. For example, I had received spam in the past (both email and snail mail) as a result of maintaining a proper Whois record. Some of them are legal but downright deceiving emails such as paper mail designed to look like "invoices" but with the small print "This is a solicitation, not an invoice". Luckily for me my domain name registrar took it upon themselves to shield me from these spam. I think people should only have access to their own whois records, and Domain Name Registrar should only have minimal access to allow them to perform their duty only.

The new policy is the first step in the right direction. 

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