Study Suggestion Number 19
Submitted By: [Redacted for privacy reasons] Topic: What percentage of registrants are legal persons versus natural persons versus proxies? Hypothesis: Different privacy rights attach to natural persons than to legal persons. The study would determine the proportion of each (as well as the extent of proxy registrations, in which the legal or natural status of the underlying registrant is unavailable) in order to attempt to tailor Whois improvements to the different populations. How the hypothesis could be falsified: The study is aimed at data collection and does not present a falsifiable hypothesis. Utility: The study results would aid in showing whether there actually exists a relevant, legitimate interest in services (or ICANN policies) that shield the identity of the actual domain owner. If there is little relevant interest in such services, ICANN might consider whether proxy services and similar services should be abandoned or proxy registrations limited to those with legitimate interest. Type of Study Needed: It will be necessary to determine the nature of the registrants, e.g. commercial entity, natural person, using domain names for private purposes, proxy services or other privacy services. This data should generally be ascertainable using Whois records. To the extent any proxy provider were willing to participate, it would also be useful to know the percentage of legal persons versus natural persons among proxy-registered domains. Data that needs to be collected: A random sample of Whois records would be searched to determine, at least on the face of the Whois data, what percentage of registrants are owned by natural persons, by legal persons, and by proxy services. To elaborate upon the data, ICANN might consider submitting the following questions to registrars and their affiliated proxy / privacy services: (a) How many domains are registered with you? (b) How many of the domains registered with you are registered by natural persons? (c) How many of the domains registered with you are registered by legal entities? (d) Do you or your affiliates or partners offer proxy services or other such privacy services to domain registrants? (e) How many domain names for which you are the registrar are subject to a proxy or other such privacy service? (f) What is the cost per year for the registrant (in USD)? Does the cost differ as between legal entities and natural persons? (g) For how many of the domains registered with you as a registrar using a proxy or other privacy service did you or any affiliated proxy/privacy service receive a request in 2007 to reveal the identity of the registrant? If your affiliated proxy/privacy service offers an e-mail relay service, how many times were such addresses used (excluding spam, to the extent possible)? Population to be surveyed: For the first part of the survey, a large, random sample of domain names. For the second part of the survey, a sampling of registrars, particularly those registrars that offer or are affiliated with companies that offer proxy / privacy services. Sample Size: For the first part of the survey, since the available data should be relatively easy to retrieve by registrars and it seems essential to also include smaller registrars, the survey should not discriminate based on the registrar of the domain. Type of Analysis: The collected data should be analyzed to provide answers to the above questions on a basis including all or at least a substantial cross-section of all gTLDs.