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WHOIS Privacy Proposal could Harm Small Business

  • To: comments-ppsai-initial-05may15@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: WHOIS Privacy Proposal could Harm Small Business
  • From: Brendan Conniff <brendan.conniff@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 6 Jul 2015 20:55:18 -0400

To Whom it May Concern,

I am an IT Professional working in the field of Web Development. I
personally own a domain, and although I have not put it to use yet, I have
considered a number of potentially commercial applications for it. However,
if ICANN proposes to disallow WHOIS privacy for commercial domains, I
absolutely will not continue registering a domain name. Unfortunately, I
suspect many other potential small businesses and entrepreneurs may feel

For someone who does not have a corporate address, maintaining privacy
online and keeping my home address hidden is extremely important when I am
online. This proposal can also disproportionately affect those who use
their domains to express marginalized opinions, who may be personally
targeted and attacked, but even small e-commerce sites who do not wish to
be bothered at home by irate customers and reveal their personal
information for abuse. Exposing a home address online is akin to opening
Pandora's box.

I understand that there exists an issue with internet piracy, but exposing
the home address of any small business owner unable to afford an office is
far from an ideal approach. Not only is this damaging to small business
owners, and entrepreneurs, but the process being followed by ICANN to
undertake this is far from transparent, and most people in the world will
not be aware of what the implications of this are, or even that this
proposal exist. This proposal is an attempt by big media to circumvent due
process, and to slip their special interest into effect, while turning as
few heads as possible.

Certainly, I will abandon my own domain if this proposal is passed, for the
simple reason of my personal privacy, and I suspect many others will as
well. It has been estimated that 15 - 25% of domains use privacy (see
http://www.inta.org/Advocacy/Documents/November202009Whois.pdf), and this
strikes me as a very large potential impact. Has any study been made as to
what percentage of these domains may be hosting illegal data? Has any study
been made into what percentage of domains which are *not* using privacy are
hosting illegal data? Are there any numbers or statistics which might
suggest this proposal will actually have a positive impact on piracy, or is
this simply an attempt to appease a special interest? Who will take
responsibility for the damage this may do to the private sector, damage to
a sector of the industry where innovation stands strong in light of a
troubled economy?

I strongly suggest that ICANN reconsider this approach, and continue
allowing WHOIS privacy proxies to be used. Instead, the focus should be
placed on ensuring that these proxies correctly disclosed information when
ordered by a court of law, or even simply making all WHOIS records private,
and permitting ICANN (or another such organization) to disclose this
information directly when requested by a court of law. Please consider an

Thank you for your consideration,
Brendan Conniff

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