Over the past few weeks ICANN has caused quite a stir to businesses and trademark owners alike after announcing it was considering a proposal to force commercial registrants’ to display their identity when registering new domains.
This new proposal would see an end to commercial domain registrants’ ability to shield and hide their identity and rendering their registration details accessible on WHOIS platforms. It comes as no surprise that privacy campaigners are angered by the proposal.
ICANN released the ‘Initial Report on the Privacy & Proxy Services Accreditation Issues Policy Development Process’ on the 5th May, to allow for public comment on some of the points addressed. Some of the key questions raised in the report asked whether or not commercial entities registering domain names for economic and financial purposes should be exempt from privacy rights. Further questions examined what measures and policies would be required to enforce the contactability of the registrants. Furthermore, the report also asked to what extent should full WHOIS reference details be disclosed? The time frame for public comment ended on the 7th of July and at present we are waiting for press release on the report’s findings.
It comes as no surprise that many trademark owners are perturbed by ICANN controversial proposal. The digital landscape is fraught with potential threats to both personal and professional security. Many businesses enforce a policy of proxy registrations as an integral part of their brand protection strategy. The Online Abuse Prevention Initiative, a collective of activists for civil rights and internet anonymity, contend that the proposal would benefit and encourage cyber-criminals, online harassers and internet stalkers allowing them access to the personal details of women and LGTBQ campaigners. They argue it would deprive domain owners of their privacy and security. This type of activity, known as doxing allows confidential data of internet users to be exposed on the web.
Not all enterprises are put off by ICANN’s proposal. Naturally enough, the US entertainment industry is a strong supporter of the proposal as access to registration data will allow them to pursue copyright and trademark infringers with greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness. It would save the industry millions in legal enforcement. For the moment we will have to wait and see what decision ICANN will reach on this matter. Stay tuned for more updates.
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