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Disclosure of Registrant data should require a court order

  • To: comments-ppsai-initial-05may15@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Disclosure of Registrant data should require a court order
  • From: Joris De Donder <joris@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 07 Jul 2015 01:13:32 +0200


I submit these comments as CEO of a company specializing in online reputation management, someone who has over 15 years experience buying and selling domain names and a worried internet user.

I strongly urge ICANN to reject this proposal to cripple WHOIS Privacy services.

Instead of undermining WHOIS Privacy services, ICANN should strengthen them. Registrant data should only be disclosed in response to a court order or a subpoena issued in the jurisdiction relevant to
the WHOIS Privacy Service Provider .

The history of the WHOIS system has been riddled with abuse. Having your email address published in a public WHOIS record has for many years been a sure fire way to attract spam. And in recent years, not only spammers have been abusing that public data, but identity thieves and other fraudsters have found it to be a treasure trove of information that enables them to conduct more and more sophisticated types of so called (spear)phishing attacks. No wonder literally millions of domain names now have 'anonymized' WHOIS records, a service their registrants obviously value as can be deduced from the fact that these registrants are voluntarily willing to pay for these WHOIS Privacy services.

In addition to having become an essential service to protect oneself against criminal behavior, WHOIS Privacy services can mean the difference between freedom and incarceration or even between life and death. For journalists (both professional and citizen-journalists), social and political activists and many others operating in parts of the world where the Rule of Law is not respected and voicing certain opinions or merely reporting the facts can get a person kidnapped, thrown in jail or killed, the importance
of WHOIS Privacy services cannot be underestimated.

By adopting the WHOIS system, a problem was created. For millions of domain registrants the use of WHOIS Privacy services is a way to fix this problem. The types of changes now being considered to WHOIS Privacy requirements would undermine and essentially eliminate this fix.

The changes being considered to WHOIS Privacy requirements would allegedly help fight copyright infringement by supposedly making it easier for copyright holders to track down the culprits. History and experience teach us otherwise. Criminals typically do not use their own names and addresses when registering domain names (Despite the existence of the "WHOIS Accuracy Program" which has turned out to be the cause of a whole new set of problems). Therefor undermining WHOIS Privacy services, as ICANN is now considering doing, will not bring copyright holders or their agents any step
closer to identifying those violating their copyrights.

Again, I strongly urge ICANN to reject this proposal that would make the Internet less safe.

Thank you,
Joris De Donder
Digital Defense, GCV.

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