Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Registrar Follies

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The challenge: How to defend an indefensible position. The registrar constituency has fielded a proposal that will soon be voted upon that attempts to respond to the GNSO Council call for constituency statements in regard to the reasonable recommendations of Taskforce 1/2 (cited below); the constituency has debated the matter back-and-forth for the last month and now seeks to reject all three consensus recommendations. At issue, the fact that a group of bulk registrars don't want to spend the meager amount of money required to implement the recommendations.

Explaining the TF recommendations and the initial registrar reaction, Jordyn Buchanan writes: The driving force behind these recommendations is that registrants DON'T read shrink wrap agreements and hence will not know that their contact information is being made publicly available through WHOIS. Hence, they should be explicitly made aware of this fact separate from the agreement that they're not going to read. Overall, it seems that the statement as it currently stands reiterates the problem (that registrants don't read the current agreement so aren't aware of the use of their data) but seems to say "but we're not willing to do anything to fix it". I'm not sure that this is a view that is likely to carry a lot of weight within the task force, and it may be difficult to find the support of any of the other constituencies.

The reasonable TF recommendations are:

1. Registrars must ensure that disclosures regarding availability and third-party access to personal data associated with domain names actually be presented to registrants during the registration process. Linking to an external web page is not sufficient.
2. Registrars must ensure that these disclosures are set aside from other provisions of the registration agreement if they are presented to registrants together with that agreement. Alternatively, registrars may present data access disclosures separate from the registration agreement. The wording of the notice provided by registrars should, to the extent feasible, be uniform.
3. Registrars must obtain a separate acknowledgement from registrants that they have read and understand these disclosures. This provision does not affect registrars' existing obligations to obtain registrant consent to the use of their contact information in the WHOIS system.

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