[At-Large] Issue Report on Thick Whois

Patrick Vande Walle patrick at vande-walle.eu
Thu Nov 24 17:58:23 UTC 2011

On 24/11/11 16:59, Evan Leibovitch wrote:
> I appreciate the previous reference made that notes that real estate
> ownership in most countries is public information. So society has had
> no problems with public access to contact information for real
> addresses, Why should the rules be different for virtual addresses? 

Over here, if you want to access real estate ownership , you have to
file a request with an official registry through a legal officer
(notary).  It is not available for everyone over the Internet. It is
public, yes. But it will take you some effort to get the information.
This is by design.

> Your PoV is based on theory and wishful thinking; theirs is based on
> actual investigations and dealing with the consequences of hidden or
> obfuscated WHOIS.

Interestingly, the European Court of Justice ruled today, in a unrelated
case, that privacy is a fundamental right that cannot be superseded by
other interests, and certainly not in a disproportionate manner.

Of course, ICANN is a USG contractor and most of the gTLDs are based in
the US.  Hence, US laws apply. I admit that claims that the current
policy is "breaking the law" or unconstitutional do not hold water,
because these contracts between registries and registrants in gTLDs are
legal from a US POV.  The extend to which these contract provisions  are
binding when the sale happens outside the US remains to be tested in
court. AFAIK, no-one has ever sued an European registrar about these
contract terms. I guess registrants prefer to go the ccTLD route if they
have privacy concerns, rather than spending thousands in a court case.

You will notice that the one gTLD based in the UK has other WHOIS
policies, respecting  local and EU laws on privacy. I have yet to hear a
complaint that their policy is preventing LEAs to do their work.


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