One of the benefits of being a reseller is that your registrar takes on the task of working within the domain name regulatory environment for you. Occasionally, however, pertinent issues arise and it is our job to inform and engage you.
Currently, there is a working group within ICANN responsible for building a regime to accredit domain privacy and proxy service providers. OpenSRS operates such a service and offers it to our reseller channel. We believe that the outcome of this working group could potentially impact our customers and all registrants using any privacy service.
What’s privacy service?
For those who don’t know, it’s possible to look up the registrant information for any domain name. When a person registers a domain name, their contact information is stored in something called the WHOIS database. You can then use a site like whois.icann.org to search this database for any domain name, which will tell you the details behind that domain like the person’s email, phone number and even their home address.
When you enable WHOIS privacy for your domain name, we will swap out all of your personal information in the WHOIS database and instead present our own information. That means that the registrant’s identity is protected.
Intellectual property interests within ICANN are arguing for a number of problematic changes. First and foremost, it is being proposed that websites that perform transactions for commercial purposes would no longer be able to use privacy services.
This is extremely problematic for a number of reasons: First, the content of websites change frequently and is often unknown at the time of registration. This means that a domain’s privacy status may need to be changed post-registration. It would also require either monitoring or a reporting function to remove privacy for non-compliant domains.
This sort of rule is also ripe for abuse, and will certainly be used to silence free speech and dissent. What happens when a dissident journalist or a women’s shelter is forced to remove privacy because they have a donation button on their websites or when they are simply soliciting support?
There are also proposals that would force your privacy service provider to hand over your registrant’s information to third parties without due process, particularly for copyright or trademark complaints.
How you can help
If you feel as strongly as we do about the issue we encourage you to take action. You can help us prevent this change, and other problematic privacy proposals, in a number of ways:
1. Visit savedomainprivacy.org to learn more and sign the petition;
2. Share the above site with your privacy service using customers;
3. Share the site on social media;
4. Consider filing your own public comment to ICANN. This is as easy as sending your thoughts in an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Feel free to reach out to us at OpenSRS if you want more information. Background and details may be found above at savedomainprivacy.org or at the ICANN site for the proposal.