Comments on ICANN plan to change Whois policy.


Despite a slow start, public comment on proposed Whois privacy rule changes has flooded in, with thousands rushing to have their say before the July 7 deadline.

The ICANN thread dedicated to the issue reveals 11,486 posts were made after the agency published a 98-page report on May 5 inviting feedback about whether registrants of websites used for financial transactions should be banned from accessing privacy and proxy services.

If such a ban was implemented, these owners – including anyone with small sites who makes a little pocket change from advertising – would be prevented from accessing privacy and proxy services to mask their personal details in Whois searches.

Anyone who performed an online domain lookup could therefore gain access to a commercial website owner’s name, phone number, email address and street address.

The ICANN report went largely unnoticed for more than one month and just seven comments were posted up to and including June 20.

What followed was a huge public response, with the majority of the 11,486 comments – most in opposition to the proposal – made in a little over two weeks. and are opposed to the plan, while Facebook, brand protection company MarkMonitor and AntiCounterfeiting Coalition are among its proponents, according to a report on The Register website.

The one and only comment on the ICANN thread in May was by former ICANN At Large Advisory Committee member Carlton Samuels, who has blogged about building a better Whois for the individual registrant on the CircleID website. In his thread post, he wrote:

This is a most important piece of work which I think advances us closer to the goal of reforming certain domain name market practices and the environment. The task of seeking balance for contending rights with concomitant[sic] responsibilities with due regard for the interests of all stakeholders is never easy. But despite the effort, I believe we did not achieve the establishment of a properly balanced benchmark for rights.  Neither was the weight of the responsibilities of the parties balanced enough in the report.

One of the users who commented on deadline day said:

Given the sheer amount of rampant cyber bullying, the privacy of domain holders should be made paramount.

An ICANN staff report about the issue is due this month.

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