Whois

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ICANN Montreal: Real-Time Thoughts During the WHOIS Meeting - 1st Session

I'm going to try something new here. I'm sitting here at the ICANN meeting on whois and I'll try to jot down some of my thoughts as they occur to me in reaction to what is being said:

- What is the "purpose" of whois? When a person acquires a domain name he/she has a decision to make: whether he/she will give the vendor/registrar his/her personal information? (If not, the person might have to forego getting the name, but that's his/her choice.) It seems that that is the context in which we need to evaluate the "purpose" of whois. In other words, the person relinquishes the information for the purpose of acquiring a domain name and not the broad panopoly of uses that have grown around whois. more

Montreal ICANN Meetings Creating Some Irritations

Two controversial issues which were on the agenda of the Montreal ICANN meetings creating some irritation: the way of planning to create a country code support organization (ccNSO), and the discussions around the purpose and operation of WHOIS – the database of registrants of domains. Without going into the history of the ccTLDs withdrawing from their former role within the DNSO and moving towards a self organized structure, there is an obvious conflict revolving around the term... more

Brownian Motion And ICANN’s Latest Status Report To The United States

Brownian motion is the ceaseless random movement of particles suspended in a warm fluid. The particles move because they are buffeted by random collisions with molecules and atoms speeding this way and that under the impetus of heat. The greater the heat, the greater the motion. But no matter how much motion and how much heat, Brownian motion brings no progress.

Today I learned from Bret Fausett's ICANN Blog that ICANN has just published its Sixth Status Report Under ICANN/US Government Memorandum of Understanding, dated March 31, 2003. This report is subtitled "Report by ICANN to United States Department of Commerce Re: Progress Toward Objectives of Memorandum of Understanding" (emphasis added.) more

With No Privacy Standards Who Knows Who Is Abusing The Whois Database

John Banks is a loan officer in New York. John's supervisor recently warned John about the potential number of bad loans he may be carrying as part of his portfolio. To dump some of the bad loans he might be carrying, John came up with a scheme. He pointed his web browser to www.whois.org and entered terms denoting disease or poor health such as 'cancer' and 'illness'. This query on the Internet's WHOIS database reported results of names and addresses of domain name owners who had developed websites devoted to providing information on certain serious illnesses. John compared these names and addresses with those in his portfolio of loans. For the matches, he canceled the loans and required immediate payment-in-full. more

Time For ICANN/IANA To Squarely Face The Question Of Privacy

Various people whose judgment I value [M. Mueller, B. Fausett] have suggested that ICANN/IANA may finally get to the issue of privacy.

The ICANN Board is establishing a "President's Standing Committee on Privacy" (why the committee is possessed by ICANN's "president" and not the Board is something we can deal with at another time and another place.)

Privacy is a hard question. It is a matter that pervades all aspects of information handling. It would be entirely inappropriate, and ultimately futile, to try to deal with privacy as an after-the-fact adjustment to the existing DNS Whois system. It is necessary to examine the most fundamental questions -- such as what reasons, if any, justify there being a Whois database at all. more

Internet Users: Is It Time For A Declaration Of Independence?

Although, undoubtedly, it is disappointing, it is not surprising that after four years of experimenting with Internet governance, the first corporate entity to take on the ambitious task -- the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) -- has not achieved the legitimacy of a global consensus-based manager of the Internet's domain name system. Simson Garfinkel explains, in his insightful piece in the March 2003 issue of Technology Review, that it has become conventional wisdom that "ICANN serves as a model for systematically shutting the public out" of its policy making activities. It should go without further explanation that the ICANN model is a particularly bad governance model, if consensus-building is supposed to be the corporation's linchpin of legitimacy. Among a few other concerns, ICANN, unmistakably, suffers from power-sharing phobia. more

Domain Name Theft Part II: Did ICANN Leave Foxes Guarding the Chicken COOP?

When it comes to stealing domain names, I suspect that there are two reasons why so many web bandits appear to be immune from ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers uses the acronym ICANN): the first reason I discussed in my last column on domain name theft (where I described a substantive void in domain name "regulation" as a primary factor for the increasing incidence of domain name theft), the second reason, which is the focus of this column, is the procedural anomaly that currently infuses ICANN's uniform dispute resolution process (UDRP) by providing no administrative forum for domain name registrants who become victims of domain name theft carried out by ICANN's registrars. more

Examining Stuart Lynn’s Domain Name Plans - Part I

Last month ICANN began soliciting comments on Stuart Lynn's A Plan for Action Regarding New gTLDs, which will be one of the Internet governance organization's primary discussion topics at its December meeting in Amsterdam. more

Is Whois Data Accuracy Enough?

The Whois Task Force of the Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO) has been consulting with registrars over the past few months on the Whois accuracy issue for law enforcement. The Task Force has enumerated three primary areas of interest: accuracy, uniformity, and better searching capabilities. When the registrars met with the Task Force in Shanghai, a fourth area of interest was also brought forward and advocated by many of the registrars at the meeting as paramount to the other three areas. This fourth area of interest was privacy. more

Invalid WHOIS Data: Who Is Responsible?

Suppose you wanted to know who operates a website at a given domain name. Perhaps you suspect that the domain name is pointing to a website that offers illegal content, or you may just want to send a comment to its authors. Conveniently, the Internet provides a so-called "WHOIS" system that ordinarily provides contact information for each registered domain. But in the case of many hundreds of thousands of domains, the WHOIS data just isn't accurate.  more