Currently, if you won a domain name, your information (or whatever information you provided) is available in a public database known as WHOIS.
The WHOIS database has been the subject of controversy for well over a decade, in particular due to its public nature. On one hand, having a public database of everyone who owns domain, IP address or DNS server is very useful for those wanting to track down spammers, copyright infringers and others online.
However, it’s also useful by those same bad guys (PDF), who have often crawled the database as a means to find email addresses and contact information for people they want to send junk mail to or generally harass.
But a new proposal by a group within the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the group that oversees the WHOIS system, aims to change that. It proposes making the database private, one that can only be accessed by authorized individuals, thus reducing the privacy and spamming issues that come with a completely open, public database.
However, that proposal has been met with controversy as well. Many argue that users have a right to know the people behind the sites that they’re using while still others fear that such a system could hamper efforts to stop spammers, prevent online attacks and more.
To understand that cause of the concern, we first have to understand a bit more about the WHOIS system itself and how the proposed changes will work, if they are passed as is.Continue Reading