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Study Suggestion Number 14

  • To: study-suggestions@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Study Suggestion Number 14
  • From: study-suggestion-response@xxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2008 17:13:28 -0800

Submitted By:
[Redacted for privacy reasons]

Quantify the extent to which the Whois database is used to facilitate illegal 
or undesirable activities, such as spam.

The Whois database is used only to a minor extent to generate spam and other 
such illegal or undesirable activities.

How the hypothesis could be falsified:
Produce data showing that the Whois database is a major contributor in 
generating spam and other such illegal or undesirable activities.

The results would speak to the validity of the argument that modifications to 
Whois would be useful in deterring spam and other such illegal or undesirable 

Type of Study Needed:
We suggest a control/variable test comparing spam received at email addresses 
not published via Whois vs. spam received at email addresses provided as part 
of Whois records.

Data that needs to be collected:
        A number of email addresses would be established. Half of those 
addresses (30) would not be disseminated.  This would provide a control group.  
The remaining email addresses would be used to register domain names using a 
variety of registrars.  These email addresses would be used for no other 
purpose.  At the end of a 90-day period, the amount of spam in each inbox would 
be evaluated.  It is, of course, possible that registering with some registrars 
produces more spam than registering with others. For this reason, information 
on the operation of each registrarâ??s Whois service should be collected, such 
as whether the registrar uses image challenge security measures on its 
web-based Whois or substitutes images for data in certain data fields (such as 
e-mail address).

Population to be surveyed:
See response to 6 above.

Sample Size:
Any number of email addresses could be compared as well as any number of 
registrars used. The number should be high enough to draw meaningful 
conclusions, perhaps 60 or 100 or more addresses.

Type of Analysis:
Comparing the volume of spam received by the control email addresses vs. the 
amount of spam received by the Whois contact addresses. In addition, the 
results for the Whois contact addresses should be sorted by registrar, to 
determine the effect of the use of security measures on abuse of Whois 

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