Any person or entity who registers a domain name is required to provide contact information (telephone number, address, email) which is entered into a public online database (the “WHOIS” database). The scope and accessibility of WHOIS database information has been an issue of contention. Privacy advocates have argued that access to such information should be limited, while many businesses, intellectual property interests, law enforcement agencies, and the U.S. government have argued that complete and accurate WHOIS information should continue to be publicly accessible. Over the past several years, ICANN has debated this issue through its Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), which is developing policy recommendations on what data should be publicly available through the WHOIS database.
GNSO activities Edit
On April 12, 2006, the GNSO approved an official “working definition” for the purpose of the public display of WHOIS information. The GNSO supported a narrow technical definition favored by privacy advocates, registries, registrars, and non-commercial user constituencies, rather then a more expansive definition favored by intellectual property interests, business constituencies, Internet service providers, law enforcement agencies, and the Department of Commerce (through its participation in ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee). At ICANN’s June 2006 meeting, opponents of limiting access to WHOIS data continued urging ICANN to reconsider the working definition.
On October 31, 2007, the GNSO voted to defer a decision on WHOIS database privacy and recommended more studies. The GNSO also rejected a proposal to allow Internet users the option of listing third-party contact information rather than their own private data. Currently, the GNSO is exploring several extensive studies of [[WHOIS]. Meanwhile, a review committee established by the Affirmation of Commitments began its first review of WHOIS policy on October 1, 2010.
- Lennard G. Kruger, Internet Domain Names: Background and Policy Issues 13 (CRS Rep. 7-5700) (Mar. 18, 2011) (full-text).