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Does Obama endorse Whois privacy?

Kevin Murphy, May 17, 2011, 19:32:15 (UTC), Domain Policy

The US government today released its latest International Strategy For Cyberspace, and it seems to acknowledge privacy rights in domain name registration.

The 30-page document (pdf) envisions a future of the internet that is “open, interoperable, secure, and reliable” and “supports international trade and commerce, strengthens international security, and fosters free expression and innovation”.

It calls for the US and its international partners to set norms that value free speech, security, privacy, respect for intellectual property and (because this is America, remember) the right to self-defense.

Domain names get a mention, in a statement that could be read, without much of a stretch of the imagination, as support in principle for private Whois records:

In this future, individuals and businesses can quickly and easily obtain the tools necessary to set up their own presence online; domain names and addresses are available, secure, and properly maintained, without onerous licenses or unreasonable disclosures of personal information.

That’s open to interpretation, of course – you could debate for years about what is “unreasonable” – but I’m surprised Whois privacy merited even an oblique reference.

Most government and law enforcement statements on the topic tend to pull in the opposite direction.

The new strategy also seems to give ICANN – or at least the ICANN model – the Administration’s support, in a paragraph worth quoting in full:

Preserve global network security and stability, including the domain name system (DNS). Given the Internet’s importance to the world’s economy, it is essential that this network of networks and its underlying infrastructure, the DNS, remain stable and secure. To ensure this continued stability and security, it is imperative that we and the rest of the world continue to recognize the contributions of its full range of stakeholders, particularly those organizations and technical experts vital to the technical operation of the Internet. The United States recognizes that the effective coordination of these resources has facilitated the Internet’s success, and will continue to support those effective, multi-stakeholder processes.

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Comments (2)

  1. TAG says:

    Yes, 14 instances of the word ‘multi-stakeholder’ in the document, this in specific reference to the DNS.

  2. theo says:

    Why does ICANN not adapt a things from ccTLD registries when it comes to the whois info ?

    Tons of ccTLD’s have opt out options.
    They all work together with national enforcement agencies.

    WIPO can in all cases operate together with the ccTLD registry in question to get the case going.

    This would end the debate about whois proxies and what not..

    The only thing i would miss as a domainer is that domain tools would lose alot of it’s features.

    Though registries like Verisign already offer domain history on a paid basis.

    So there oppertunities there anyways.

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