ICANN policy changes trigger privacy concerns

Internet name authority ICANN has unsettled privacy advocates after a new working group document flagged changes to the way domain proxy services can operate.

The changes, proposed in a document (PDF) from a working group of the Generic Names Supporting Organization at ICANN, essentially mean that “registrants of websites engaged in active commerce” would no longer be allowed to protect the personal information of domain owners using a proxy service.

Proxy services prevent domain owners’ personal contact details from appearing publicly on the internet – sites that cover sensitive, controversial, or politically motivated content for example, or simply site owners that wish to retain their personal privacy use them widely.

However, a number of companies, including Facebook and brand protection company MarkMonitor, believe that the situation should be changed to bring domain name rules in line with “global law and policy”. However, this is highly contentious.

The Register reports that even some of the other members of the group that developed the proposal challenge this, noting “fundraising and membership drives are often performed by the very groups and organizations seeking privacy/proxy registration for protection, including minority political groups, minority religious organizations, ethnic groups, organizations committed to change of racial policies, gender orientation groups, and publications engaged in freedom of expression”

The 60-day comment period ends on July 7, and there are already thousands of comments opposing the changes.

Author , ESET

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