Study Suggestion Number 2
Submitted By: [Redacted for privacy reasons] Topic: The nature and extent of privacy protection options available to registrants seeking to shield their personal data from public display in Whois. Hypothesis: Registrants presently have options to effectively shield their personal information from public display in Whois. Namely, proxy services offered by registrars and by third parties. How the hypothesis could be falsified: This hypothesis could be falsified if the analysis found that registrants currently have no effective, affordable way to shield their personal information from public display in Whois. This hypothesis should be tested for any top level domain that collects and displays a registrantâ??s Whois data. If the analysis finds that registrants have at least one privacy protection option available, the hypothesis would not be falsified. Utility: An affirmation of the hypothesis would not necessarily drive any changes to Whois policy. However, ICANN could undertake new communications efforts to educate registrants about their options in shielding personal data. ICANN also could undertake policy development to standardize the minimum features required of proxy services. If the analysis finds that registrants have only one privacy protection option available, ICANN could undertake policy development to increase availability and competition among registrars and third party providers of privacy protection services. Type of Study Needed: An analysis of privacy services offered by all accredited registrars and by third parties. Much of the data can be collected by manual review of each registrarsâ?? web site to examine privacy protection services available. Other data would not likely be published, such as the date these services were first offered and number of registrants using the service. For this data, we would likely need to send questions and request answers from each registrar. Data that needs to be collected: For any Registrar or third party that offers privacy protection services to registrants: Data element/Suggested source(s) Domain name Survey of registrars and third-party providers Type of entity (registrar, third party) Survey of registrars and third-party providers Total registrants served Survey of registrars and third-party providers Type of privacy service offered (e.g. proxy; mail forwarding) Survey of registrars and third-party providers Date privacy service was first offered Survey of registrars and third-party providers Number of registrants currently using this privacy service Survey of registrars and third-party providers Cost ($ per month) to registrant for use of privacy service Survey of registrars and third-party providers Data protection policies with regards to law enforcement and consumer protection. Survey of registrars and third-party providers Population to be surveyed: Registrars and third-party providers of privacy services. Sample Size: Given there still are less than 1000 ICANN-accredited gTLD registrars, the analysis should include a review of websites for all who are offering registration services. If we also conduct a survey to learn the additional data elements (date services offered, number of customers), a response rate of at least one-third might be sufficient. Type of Analysis: A comparative analysis of types and costs of protection services. Attempt to correlate service characteristics (cost and features) with the relative share of eligible registrants who choose to use a given privacy protection service. In this correlation, we will need to assess whether individual registrants were/are even aware that they have options for privacy protection services. If awareness is low, we cannot draw firm conclusions about whether the cost, features, or likely effectiveness of these services is suppressing registrant demand.