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Proposal to limit anonymized domain registration ignites furor

Blair Hanley Frank | June 25, 2015
Privacy advocates are sounding the alarm over a potential policy change that would prevent some people from registering website addresses without revealing their personal information.

Libby Baney, a senior director at FaegreBD Consulting who participated in the working group, said that the policy was aimed at providing parity in the digital world for businesses that are already required to provide public registration of their information in the offline world.

But Stephanie Perrin, a Canadian member of ICANN's Non-Commercial Users Constituency who was one of the civil society representatives on the working group, said that the policy would put organizations like political and women's groups at risk of harassment.

"Many of these groups accept donations, sell paraphernalia (mugs, t-shirts, etc.) or generate advertising revenue," she said in an email. "Denying them privacy proxy services may put them at risk."

Cooper, for her part, said that "there is a lot of nuance" to the situation, and that the rules still have to address "corner cases," but that the policy overall would benefit internet users.

"We believe that the interests of consumers and businesses of all sizes are best served by guarding against fraudulent sites that are attempting conceal their identities," she said.

As for Harper, she hopes that ICANN will go in the opposite direction from the proposed changes, and make domain privacy standard for all domains not registered to a business entity.

"The idea of publicly listing physical addresses for websites is antiquated and unnecessary," she said in an email. "While the Internet has evolved, our privacy standards in many areas have not."

No matter how the issue gets resolved, it will still be a long time before ICANN comes to a decision. The organization will accept public comments on the changes through July 7, and a staff report on the policy is due July 21. After that, ICANN's board will still have to vote on any policies before they go into effect.

 

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