Study Suggestion Number 18
Submitted By: [Redacted for privacy reasons] Topic: Identify what percentage of registrations by proxy resolve to commercial sites and/or pay-per-click or advertising sites. Hypothesis: The majority of registrations by proxy are used commercially in order to profit from domain registrations, not by individuals concerned about privacy. How the hypothesis could be falsified: If it is shown that most web sites resolving to domain names that are subject to proxy are really used for non-commercial purposes by those truly seeking to protect their privacy. Utility: If it is shown that the majority of registrations by proxy are used to hide the owner of a domain name that is used for a commercial enterprise, then the policy arguments for privacy are diminished, as compared with the use of proxy registrations by individuals for non-commercial purposes. Although this study provides basic information about the use of proxy-registered domains, it could be complemented with a study surveying regsistrantsâ?? reasons for employing proxy services. Type of Study Needed: This quantitative study can be done by identifying a statistically relevant sample of domains that are registered by proxy and then visiting the corresponding web sites and identifying the type of content hosted there. Data that needs to be collected: A random sampling of domains would be selected, and the Whois output examined to determine if each is registered to a proxy service. Those domains not registered to a proxy service would be ignored. The web sites at the remaining domains would be examined. The data collected would include the domain name, name of registrar/proxy provider and the nature of the content. For example, the sites might be classified according to basic categories, such as: 1. The site offers commercial transactions benefiting an apparently for-profit entity. 2. The site offers commercial transactions benefiting a non-profit charitable entity. 3. The site offers no commercial transactions but advertises or links to sites where transactions are made or goods or services are promoted. 4. The site offers no commercial transactions and neither advertises nor links to sites where transactions are made or goods or services are promoted. Population to be surveyed: The population surveyed should be a statistically relevant sample of domains registered by proxy. Sample Size: A statistically relevant sample could be determined by a survey professional. Type of Analysis: Once the data is collected an analysis could be done to understand what percentage of domains registered by a proxy service is used for advertising or commercial purposes, and what percentage is used for non-commercial purposes. This data would better enable policy makers to formulate effective Whois access policies.