Changes to Domain Name Rules Place User Privacy in Jeopardy

Posted: June 25, 2015 in Tech
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Privacy advocates have attacked a plan to end anonymity for website owners saying it will put users at risk of harassment and identity theft.

Currently, in order to register a web address a user must provide contact details, but many domain registration services offer the ability to keep this information private.

Domain registrars do this by providing their own contact details for Whois queries – the directory look-up for web addresses. Icann, the body which co-ordinates the internet’s infrastructure, has proposed an end to that system, making any site used for “commercial services”ineligible for proxy registrations.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which opposes the proposal, is arguing that the risks to website owners, which is says will suffer a “higher risk of harassment, intimidation and identity theft”, outweigh any benefits of the change.

“The ability to speak anonymously protects people with unpopular or marginalized opinions, allowing them to speak and be heard without fear of harm. It also protects whistleblowers who expose crime, waste, and corruption,” it says.

Icann’s proposal is backed by the US entertainment industry, which has long been critical of anonymity online. In testimony before Congress, Steven Metalitz of the Coalition for Online Accountability said in May that: “Tens of millions of [domain] registrations … lurk in the shadows of the public Whois, through a completely unregulated proxy registration system that is the antithesis of transparency.”

Full Story @ [The Guardian]

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