Proposals Afoot To Force Commercial Domain Registrants To Reveal Identity

By David Goldstein


ICANN has put forward a proposal that if adopted would see commercial entities being forced to reveal their identities when registering domain names, and privacy advocates are aghast.

In the Initial Report on the Privacy and Proxy Services Accreditation Issues Policy Development Process <> that is open for public comment until 7th July, it asks if “domains used for online financial transactions for commercial purpose should be ineligible for privacy and proxy [P/P] registrations.” And it wants to know why or why not respondents think so.

The paper also requests comments on whether “it would be useful to adopt a definition of ‘commercial’ or ‘transactional’ to define those domains for which P/P service registrations should be disallowed? If so, what should the definition(s) be?”

Additional issues canvassed include what measures should be taken to ensure contactability and responsiveness of providers along with should “full WHOIS contact details for ICANN-accredited privacy/proxy service providers be required?” How to deal with websites with malicious or illegal content is also addressed.

But the request for comments have outraged many including privacy advocates. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has given an example of “a free community website for transgender authors” <> that currently uses a proxy registration service keeping the registrant’s details private. The EFF asks whether such a website could be considered commercial, which under the proposals would force the registrant to reveal their contact details, or not.

And as the EFF notes, the proposal is being pushed by US entertainment companies who told Congress earlier this year that domain registration privacy should only be allowed in limited circumstances. The entertainment companies want to be able to use registration data to be able “to discover the identities of website owners whom they want to accuse of copyright and trademark infringement, preferably without a court order.”

To date there have been well over 10,000 comments submitted <>, the vast majority opposing the changes.