Study Suggestion Number 20
Submitted By: [Redacted for privacy reasons] Topic: Timeliness of proxy services in relaying communications to registrants and/or revealing the identity of underlying registrants (â??licensees,â?? per RAA 188.8.131.52). Hypothesis: That proxy services are untimely and unreliable conduits of communications to registrants, and/or that proxies are in breach of registration terms dictated by RAA 184.108.40.206 (requiring that registrant reveal identity of domain licensee upon reasonable evidence of actionable harm). How the hypothesis could be falsified: Demonstration with statistical significance that proxy services do three things at a reliability rate of 95% or higher: (1) relay communications received by e-mail, mail, and/or fax to registrants; (2) reveal accurate registrant names, physical addresses, and e-mail addresses to requesting users who present reasonable evidence of actionable harm; (3) transmit this data within forty-eight hours of receipt of request; and (3) give notice to registrants of a request for information within twenty-four hours by e-mail to valid e-mail addresses. Utility: Data collected could inform and quantify the need for additional regulation of the responsibilities of proxy services to relay communications and/or to reveal registrant contact information upon receiving reasonable evidence of actionable harm. Type of Study Needed: Survey of proxy registrars, brand owners and law enforcement officials screened for experience in requesting data from proxy registrars, and registrants through proxy services. Alternatively, a pretextually-based study of the reliability and timeliness of proxy services (using domains registered for the purpose of the study without the registrar or proxy providerâ??s knowledge) could also be considered. Data that needs to be collected: Similar data would be collected in two categories: (1) communication between proxies and registrants; and (2) communication between proxies and data requesters. The study would require three separate questionnaires screening and targeting each of the three classes of respondent required for the study (proxy registrars, proxy registrants, and data requesters with experience of requesting data through proxies). Category 1 (to be sought from proxy registrars and prior / current registrants of domains through proxy services) -- number of instances in 2007 in which proxy service received request for name, address, and e-mail address of respondent -- number of instances in 2007 in which proxy service sent notice to registrant about request for name, address, and e-mail address -- duration of proxy registration in 2007 (registrant respondent only) -- use of domain for e-commerce, online journalism or blogging, marketing a product or service, political commentary, cultural commentary, or other use (registrant respondent only) -- longest time between receipt of inquiry and transmission of notice to registrant -- shortest time between receipt of inquiry and transmission of notice to registrant -- median time between receipt of inquiry and transmission of notice to registrant -- number of instances in which notice from proxy failed to reach registrant (bounces to proxy, proxy respondent only) -- number of instances in which notice from proxy failed to reach registrant (UDRP complaint, law suit, or demand received by registrant without having received separate notice from proxy, registrant respondent only) Category 2 (to be sought from data requesters and proxies) -- number of instances in 2007 in which requester consulted WHOIS data to identify registrants -- number of those instances in which registrant was identified as a proxy -- number of instances in which proxy failed to respond to request for name, address, or e-mail address of registrant -- longest time between transmission of inquiry and receipt of response -- shortest time between transmission of inquiry and receipt of response -- median time between transmission of inquiry and receipt of response -- number of instances in which response from proxy contained refusal to comply with request -- number of instances in which response from proxy contained inaccurate or incomplete data For the alternative version of the survey, the survey provider would register a number of domains similar to the brands of cooperating brand owners (who would be transferred the domains upon conclusion of the study). The survey provider would be authorized to send a request to the proxy provider alleging infringement. The survey provider would track the transmission of the communications to and from the proxy provider and actions taken by the proxy provider in response to the pretextual allegations of actionable harm. Population to be surveyed: Three groups Group 1: registrars offering proxy services to domain registrants. Group 2: domain registrants who during 2007 used proxy services. Group 3: data requesters, consisting of brand owners, law enforcement officials, journalists, and consumer-protection organizations. Sample Size: Because the pool of available proxy registrars is comparatively small, participation near 100% of Group 1 should be the target to permit statistical inferences from responses. For Group 2, a sample large enough to permit statistically significant analysis of results by use of registered site (e.g., e-commerce), meaning a sample of probably more than 200 respondents. For Group 3, likewise, a sample large enough to permit differential analysis of responses for each of the types of respondent (e.g., law enforcement, brand owners), meaning probably a sample of more than 200 respondents. Type of Analysis: Tabulation of raw data, regression of results for times and quality of responses according to respondent category.