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Whois privacy. Even the Fortune 500 use it.

December 6, 2011Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, whois privacy, whois proxyComments Off on Whois privacy. Even the Fortune 500 use it.

It’s hypocritical for large companies to lobby against whois privacy services when they use them as well.

Why do so many large companies argue against whois privacy and whois proxy services when they use the same tools themselves?

It’s a frequently asked question, one that Kevin Murphy asked again today:

Sure, a lot of people hide their whois information for nefarious purposes. But for companies to label all whois privacy as “bad” when they do it themselves is hypocritical.

A number of companies use Mark Monitor’s affiliated companies to register domains and keep knowledge of the registrations away from the public. (Of course when they use the MarkMonitor name servers they often get outed).

There are plenty of competitive reasons to do this, such as a new product release.

I would consider this a fairly legitimate use of what is essentially a whois proxy service.

Sometimes big companies use it for questionable purposes. Consider Guthy-Renker, which recently registered a slew of domain names related to a recall of its popular Proactiv acne treatment. It registered the domains under the name of MarkMonitor’s DNStination, Inc.

At first I assumed it just wanted to keep the domains under wraps while it worked on a recall announcement. But it turns out its intentions were a bit more nefarious. It didn’t register the domain ProactivRecall.com because it wanted to save it for an announcement; it did it to keep information out of the public’s hands.

Guthy-Renker has no problem having the resolving yet stealthy (and non-indexed) domain PAbottlereplacement.com use its corporate information in whois, but it wants to hide the obvious domains from view.

Guthy-Renker’s activities around these domains spurred John Berryhill to comment:

When some of these folks come to understand the competitive intelligence available in domain name data, they’ll be singing a different tune about WHOIS privacy.

Let’s just not tell the SEC until we absolutely have to.

Indeed, there’s a lot of competitive intelligence in whois data. Just ask Fusible, an anonymous blog that writes almost exclusively about possible new product launches based on nameserver data courtesy of DailyChanges.com.

So are big companies willing to eliminate all forms of whois privacy and proxy just to go after some of the bad actors? Are they really willing to come forward and claim ownership of domain names the moment they register them?


© DomainNameWire.com 2011.

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Related posts:

  1. Providing Whois Privacy Isn’t Free
  2. Domain Name Whois Privacy Has Its Limits
  3. Wikileaks Could Put More Pressure on Whois Privacy Services

Registrars Defend Domain Name Whois Privacy

December 8, 2010Domain Registrars, Domaining, Domainnamewire, go daddy, Oversee.net, Tucows, whois privacyComments Off on Registrars Defend Domain Name Whois Privacy

by Kevin Murphy

Domain registrars are fighting off critics of Whois privacy on multiple fronts at the ICANN meeting in Cartagena, Colombia this week.

In the latest example, registrars led by Tucows CEO Elliot Noss today savaged an ICANN draft advisory that would hold affiliated privacy services accountable for cybersquatting customers.

In May, ICANN said that as far as it is concerned proxy/privacy services are liable for how customers use their domains, under the Registrar Accreditation Agreement that all registrars must sign, unless they hand over the details of the true registrant.

The advisory highlighted ongoing tensions between domain registrants, which want privacy, and law enforcement and intellectual property interests, which want to be able to more easily track down cybersquatters and criminals.

But Noss said during a session in Cartagena today that almost every nastygram Tucows receives concerning its privacy services – the company gets one a day – comes from an IP lawyer.

He said that ICANN’s interpretation of the RAA assigns contract rights to third parties that would open up registrars to frivolous lawsuits.

Noss and Mason Cole from Oversee.net, representing ICANN registrars, said they would prefer dialogue with trademark owners and best practices for cooperation.

Tim Ruiz from Go Daddy said ICANN should “kill off” the advisory in its entirety.

But IP lawyers at the meeting, including Fabricio Vayra of Time Warner, said that best practice guidelines would need to be binding for all registrars in order to be effective.

The meeting ending with a vague promise from ICANN to organize further discussions.


© DomainNameWire.com 2010.

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ICANN May Test Whois Privacy and Proxy Services

September 29, 2010Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, whois privacy, whois proxyComments Off on ICANN May Test Whois Privacy and Proxy Services

How do whois privacy services respond to requests to reveal owner information?

The Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) has asked ICANN to consider the cost and feasibility of extended whois studies. ICANN has already undertaken studies to determine what percentage of whois records are accurate. The next study is to see how whois privacy and whois proxy services respond to requests to reveal the actual owner of domain names.

The study would involve working with individuals, businesses, first responders, complaint centers, and law enforcement that have made requests to whois services to reveal or relay information to the actual registrant.

For each submitted request, researchers will then solicit secondary input from the associated Privacy/Proxy service provider and Registrar to determine if the request was received, relayed, responded to, or otherwise acted upon.

This may be a challenge. I suspect the services that easily hand information over to requesters will cooperate; those that don’t want respond to the query from the researchers.


© DomainNameWire.com 2010.

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Related posts:

  1. Wikileaks Could Put More Pressure on Whois Privacy Services
  2. Providing Whois Privacy Isn’t Free
  3. Domain Name Whois Privacy Has Its Limits

Wikileaks Could Put More Pressure on Whois Privacy Services

August 3, 2010Domain Services, Domaining, Domainnamewire, whois privacy, whois proxyComments Off on Wikileaks Could Put More Pressure on Whois Privacy Services

Could WikiLeaks backlash bring renewed attention to whois privacy services?

The backlash against WikiLeaks over its release of thousands of secret U.S. government documents about the war in Afghanistan is building. It’s never pretty when your web site is blamed for death.

And although the public now knows who is behind WikiLeaks, I think the situation may place more attention on the use of whois privacy and proxy services.

WikiLeaks.org was registered in 2006 using domain registrar Dynadot’s privacy service. The actual details of the whois record for WikiLeaks.org has changed many times. But as of today this is what it shows:

Registrant Name:John Shipton c/o Dynadot Privacy
Registrant Street1:PO Box 701
Registrant Street2:
Registrant Street3:
Registrant City:San Mateo
Registrant State/Province:CA
Registrant Postal Code:94401
Registrant Country:US
Registrant Phone:+1.6505854708
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX:
Registrant FAX Ext.:
Registrant Email: privacy@dynadot.com

As a privacy service, Dynadot privacy shows the real name of the registrant but not the contact information.

This lack of transparency is sure to grab the attention of politicians. It’s attention that privacy and proxy services would rather not have.


© DomainNameWire.com 2010.

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Related posts:

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  2. Domain Name Whois Privacy Has Its Limits
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Providing Whois Privacy Isn’t Free

April 28, 2010Domain Services, Domaining, Domainnamewire, whois privacy, whois proxyComments Off on Providing Whois Privacy Isn’t Free

Running a whois privacy or proxy service costs money.

In the recent uproar about Name.com introducing a fee for whois privacy, a number of people have said that such a service costs the provider essentially nothing.

Without discussing the merits of Name.com’s new fee and how it communicated it, it’s worth pointing out that whois privacy does cost the registrar money.

First, there’s the legal set up fee and structure of an entity to act at the proxy. (There are two types of whois privacy services. Most are actually “proxy” services, which register the domain name and license it to the registrant.) That’s no small potatoes if done correctly. Then there’s the technology aspect.

But a bigger cost for domain privacy services is ongoing legal headaches. When a domain using a proxy service is served with a UDRP, the proxy service generally unmasks the whois information. But complainants sometimes argue that the proxy provider is actually the domain owner. Some panelists agree. Add to that frequent requests from law enforcement agencies and courts.

I was reminded of this today when I saw that a Florida man just filed a complaint in U.S. District Court against both GoDaddy and its Domains by Proxy, Inc. subsidiary. The man is claiming defamation because someone used Domains by Proxy to register a domain name that he says is being used to bad mouth his services.

So while the incremental cost of providing whois privacy for a domain name may be small, there are certainly costs.


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15%-25% of Domain Names are Registered with Masked Whois

October 2, 2009Domaining, Domainnamewire, icann, Policy & Law, private whois, whois, whois privacyComments Off on 15%-25% of Domain Names are Registered with Masked Whois

Study examines use of privacy and proxy services.

A new report (pdf) released by ICANN yesterday says that 15%-25% of all registered domain names use some sort of service to mask whois information.

The study found that the majority of people masking whois use a proxy service, which means an entity actually registers the domain on the domain “owner’s” behalf, and then leases it to that owner. Only 15% use privacy services, which mask some of the whois information such as phone number or address.

ICANN’s Affirmation of Commitments with the United States government shows that keeping whois information open and public is a goal. Section 9.3.1 reads:

ICANn additionally commits to enforcing its existing policy relating to WHOIS, subject to applicable laws. Such existing policy requires that ICANN implement measures to mantain timely, unresitricted and public access to accurate and complete WHOIS information, including registrant, technical, billing, and administrative contact information…


© DomainNameWire.com 2009.

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  3. Canada Leading the Way with Whois Changes