WHOIS: The Current Landscape and a Privacy Analysis

By Aarti Bhavana

The CCG team recently wrote a memo on the privacy implications of the WHOIS database, which is available here.

Document Summary

Background

The WHOIS service is a public, unrestricted database on which anyone can find out the real world identity, business location and contact information (including email address) of the registrant. The Affirmation of Commitments between the US Department of Commerce and ICANN requires ICANN to ensure timely, unrestricted and public access to WHOIS information.

Key Concerns

WHOIS contact information has been used to target the physical safety of domain registrants, especially women entrepreneurs, small business owners working from home, activists living in totalitarian regimes, LGBTQ bloggers, etc. It has also been used for spam.

Although Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) seek access to this data to identify registrants of particular websites, LEAs of oppressive countries with records of human rights violations can use this facility to identify dissidents or the owners of blogs and subject them to violent treatment.

The WHOIS policy is widely criticized for lacking accuracy. The present system has enough loopholes that enable fabrication of data, or mechanisms to keep details private.

Recommendations:

  1. Mechanisms to contact registrants without offering access to information about them.
  2. Permitting registrant to submit an email address as contact information, without her actual name or other details.
  3. Developing systems for Law Enforcement Agencies LEAs to identify law-breakers without the WHOIS database (since law-breakers are unlikely to submit accurate details anyhow). E.g. technological methods to track people using their email addresses.

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “WHOIS: The Current Landscape and a Privacy Analysis

  1. Olá, pós Neat. Há um problema juntamente com o seu website em web
    explorador, pode teste isso? IE não obstante é o marketplace líder e uma boa componente a pessoas omitir excelente escrever devido a este problema.

    Like

  2. Wonderful beat ! Ӏ wish tо apprentice at tһe samе time as you amrnd your webb site, hhow ϲan і
    subscribe foг a weblog web site? Tɦe account helped
    me а applicable deal. І have been а little ƅit famliar of tɦis your broadcast
    providеԁ brioght cleear concept

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s