December 17, 2003
Any Port (but 43) in a Storm

ICANN has launched three task forces on WHOIS restructuring. Task Force 1 is set to focus on marketing access:

The purpose of this task force is to determine what contractual changes (if any) are required to allow registrars and registries to protect domain name holder data from data mining for the purposes of marketing.
It sounds innocuous enough -- nobody likes spam -- but the restrictions being discussed reach further than marketers. Pushed by registrars who feel that WHOIS amounts to forced disclosure of their customer lists, the task force is seriously discussing closing off port 43's straightforward access to WHOIS information, replacing it with GIF-based barriers or similar access restrictions.

Right now, anyone can either use registrars' web-based interfaces, fire up a command-line client, or programmatically access data over port 43. If some interests on the WHOIS task force get their way, the latter two options will disappear for the ordinary researcher. That won't necessarily increase privacy, however, because data resellers such as Thomson and Thomson, willing to pay $10,000 a year, will still be able to get it through contractually mandated "bulk access." What it will mean is that academic researchers doing network studies or archiving and individuals facing challenges from intellectual property claimants will have a harder time gathering their data.

I'm sensitive to privacy concerns, and indeed believe there should be far less (or no) mandatory collection of data upon domain name registration, but I also favor equal access to what data is collected. I'm also an ALAC liaison to the task force, so I'm looking for other thoughts on the subject. Please leave comments or email.

Posted by Wendy at December 17, 2003 11:25 AM | TrackBack

A few extra links:

Captcha-capture, from NTK

W3C Working Draft Inaccessibility of Visually-Oriented Anti-Robot Tests

Posted by: Wendy on December 18, 2003 06:05 PM

The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness (CRE) has concluded that the U.S. Data Quality Act applies to ICANN since the organization performs its functions under specific agreements with the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). NTIA's Data Quality guidelines define "sponsored" dissemination of information as "situations where the Agency has directed a third party to distribute or release information, or where the Agency has the authority to review and approve the information before release."

In addition to fulfilling its legal duties, ICANN compliance with the Data Quality Act would address two paramount concerns raised by numerous critics of the organization: 1) that ICANN policy decisions are not reached through an open, transparent process; and 2) that ICANN does not provide a fair and impartial public process for seeking redress of its decisions.

CRE notified Dr. Twomey, President and Chief Executive Officer of ICANN, of the applicability of the Data Quality Act to ICANN in a detailed letter of October 29th. CRE asked ICANN for a meeting to discuss the issue of the applicability of the Data Quality Act to ICANN since CRE received no communication in response to the letter. In mid-December ICANN agreed to a January 23rd meeting with CRE. Notwithstanding CRE's trip to ICANN's headquarters in California for the scheduled meeting, the organization refused at the last moment to meet with CRE. CRE now knows how Dr. Twomey felt when he was expelled from an ICANN-related planning meeting in Geneva.

For more information, including CRE's letter to ICANN, please see

Posted by: Bruce Levinson on January 27, 2004 08:57 AM
What flag y'er sailin' under?
Excerpt: Wendy Seltzer (who is, like me, an ALAC liaison to WHOIS Task Forces 1 and 2) points to one of the many catches with whois policy. Registrars and registrants face various kinds of problems caused by massive abuse of WHOIS...
Weblog: No Such Weblog
Tracked: December 18, 2003 11:14 PM
Whois Who
Excerpt: ICANNs GNSO diskutiert die Umstrukturierung der Nutzerdaten bei Domains.
Weblog: Wortfeld
Tracked: January 1, 2004 02:09 AM
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