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ICANN’s Plan To Remove Anonymity For Domain Name Registrations May Be Online Privacy Nightmare

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Whois

A letter addressed to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has been sent by the Digital Rights Activists rebuking the former’s plan to end the website owner anonymity.

Currently while purchasing a domain name, people have an option to hide their credentials via privacy settings and fill the required fields like Name and business address with the details of the domain name registration company.

Keeping the owner’s details private helps in maintaining their safety and privacy, and also keeps online harassment activities in check. So if ICANN decides to strip such privacy settings for commercial websites then many website owners especially those belonging from conservative societies will come under direct fire from the extremists.

If implemented all commercial website owners will be required to submit their real name and address under the WHOIS records.

“This prevents millions of site owners from safeguarding their private information. We strongly oppose the ICANN Working Group’s proposal, which will physically endanger many domain owners and disproportionately impact those who come from marginalized communities,” the letter said.

“OAPI also argues that this proposal will also make it easier to “dox” and “swat” people online. It will also significantly affect LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queers) as they are often targeted online.

Who’s Against The Proposal?

OAPI’s letter criticizing ICANN’s proposal has been signed by more than 30 separate organizations including Electronic Frontier Foundation, The Tor Project, Fight for the Future, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the National Centre on Domestic and Sexual Violence.

Many other organizations which protect at-risk communities have also backed the campaign online. The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, and Jewish Woman International and Internet Democracy Project are among those supporters.

Who’s Supporting ICANN?

A number of copyright industry bodies like Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and Entertainment Software Association (ESA) representing the gaming industry in The United States are supporting the proposal for stripping owner privacy from WHOIS.

These industry bodies are of the opinion that proxy registrations are being abused for protecting those who violate copyrights.

“While there is a legitimate role for proxy registrations in limited circumstances, the current system is manipulated to make it impossible to identify or contact those responsible for abusive domain name registrations,” said Steven Metalitz of Coalition for Online Accountability (COA).

The ICANN’s proposal is a two-sided sword. If passed, it will protect the interests of copyrights and recording industry, but at the cost of the safety and privacy of commercial website owners.

I am of the opinion that these recording and copyright industries can find other methods to find out the copyright violators, but many website owners aren’t capable enough for protecting their online privacy and safety without some help.

What do you think about this proposal made by ICANN? At what lengths would you go for safeguarding your privacy and safety, if this proposal is passed?

  1. Alex says

    This new policy will only hurt legit users. There are millions of websites with outdated or fake contact information, and people who pay for privacy usually put real information

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