ICANN propose privacy rule change

Written on 29 June, 2015 by Cameron Vanryn
Categories DomainsNewsTags domain namessecurity

ICANN, the regulatory body which oversees the registration of .com and .net domains, have asked for public comment after releasing a potential policy change for domain privacy services. The report proposes that domain names with associated commercial websites will no longer be able to utilise a privacy service to prevent their information from being publicly available.

The proposal is no surprise, as ICANN introduced the updated RAA (Registrar Accreditation Agreement) in 2013 in an attempt to improve the accuracy of registrant contact details. The new regulations would only boost the effect that the RAA policy already has in the domain name space. It is surprising, however, to see that the new rules are backed by companies like Facebook and brand protection company MarkMonitor, who believe this would prevent "malicious activity" and bring the domain name rules in line with "Global Law and Policy."

There are a number of things to consider before accepting this as a plausible policy, such as; what defines a website as being involved in commercial activity? How will this impact domain holders who are victims of online abuse? 

Randi Harper, the CEO of the Online Abuse Prevention Initiative, said it is important for users to be able to protect their Whois data because it is the "lowest barrier of entry for finding personal information on a target for harassment."

With less than 2 weeks left of the 60 day public comment period, there are nearly 4000 comments opposing the change. ICANN's comment period on average only ever receives 20 comments.

Although there is no indication of this, the policy could be an attempt by the entertainment industry to push for change in the domain space which would allow them to identify website owners who distribute copyrighted material. The change could eliminate the need for a court order to recover the private contact information of a registrant who is engaging in internet piracy.

The proposal can be found on ICANN's website: https://gnso.icann.org/en/issues/raa/ppsai-initial-05may15-en.pdf