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Surprise! Most private Whois look-ups come from Facebook

Kevin Murphy, February 20, 2019, 11:47:16 (UTC), Domain Policy

Facebook is behind almost two-thirds of requests for private Whois data, according to stats published by Tucows this week.

Tucows said that it has received 2,100 requests for Whois data since it started redacting records in the public database when the General Data Protection Regulation came into effect last May.

But 65% of these requests came from Facebook and its proxy, AppDetex, that has been hammering many registrars with Whois requests for months.

AppDetex is an ICANN-accredited brand-protection registrar, which counts Facebook as its primary client. It’s developed a workflow tool that allows it, or its clients, to semi-automatically send out Whois requests to registrars.

It sent at least 9,000 such requests between June and October, and has twice sent data to ICANN complaining about registrars not responding adequately to its requests.

Tucows has arguably been the registrar most vocally opposed to AppDetex’s campaign, accusing it of artificially inflating the number of Whois requests sent to registrars for political reasons.

An ICANN policy working group will soon begin to discuss whether companies such as Facebook, as well as security and law enforcement interests, should be able to get credentials enabling them to access private Whois data.

Tucows notes that it sees spikes in Whois requests coinciding with ICANN meetings.

Tucows said its data shows that 92% of the disclosure requests it has received so far come from “commercial interests”, mostly either trademark or copyright owners.

Of this 92%, 85% were identified as trademark interests, and 76% of those were Facebook.

Law enforcement accounted for 2% of requests, and security researchers 1%, Tucows said.

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Comments (3)

  1. John Berryhill says:

    “Company well-known for abuse of personal data has insatiable appetite for personal data” – what a surprise.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      I’m sure you know me well enough to detect the sarcasm in the headline, but I’m going to put it in the record here just in case anyone else took it at face value. 😉

  2. Kanyi says:

    I noticed Facebook has a new feature that shows the italiced i above a link and it shows data such as whois, when a link was first shared and parts of the world where the website link has been shared.

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