Tuesday, February 01, 2005

NCUC Statement on WHOIS Recommendations

Non-Commercial Constituency Chair Milton Mueller writes:

This would be the final draft, to be sent to the Task Force and GNSO.
Note that the only dissent is recognized in the statement. (sec. 2)


Statement of the Noncommercial Users Constituency on Whois Task Force 1/2 Recommendation:
Improving Notification and Consent for the Use of Contact Data in the Whois Service

1. Constituency position

Noncommercial domain name users welcome efforts to ensure that domain name registrants are better informed about the publication of their private contact information via the Whois system. Public, anonymous access to private contact information poses a number of risks to
registrants and may violate their rights to privacy. Until this situation is reformed, conspicuous notification is essential.

The text we reviewed contains an error. Under point 3, the sentence "Registrars must obtain a separate acknowledgement from registrars that they have read and understand these disclosures" should read "Registrars must obtain a separate acknowledgement from _registrants_ that they have read and understand these disclosures."

NCUC strongly supports the requirement to set aside the notification and to require a distinct and separate acknowledgement from registrants that they are aware of the exposure of their private information. We observe, however, that for customers registering multiple domain names in the same transaction, only one such acknowledgement should be required. The constituency would like to make sure that the same notification and acknowledgement should take place during renewals.

We strongly support the statement "The wording of the notice provided by registrars should, to the extent feasible, be uniform." Because of the highly competitive nature of the registrar business, registrars have an incentive to downplay or obscure the privacy implications of
registering a domain name because they fear it may deter customers from signing up. The specific wording of the notification, therefore, should not be left to the discretion of registrars. We suggest that the wording be developed by staff subject to the approval of the GNSO Council, and translated as literally as possible into different languages by an independent party. This language should then be incorporated into the Registrar Accreditation Agreement.

2. Method for Reaching Agreement on NCUC position

NCUC's Chair drafted and circulated via email a constituency statementon its discussion list, soliciting input from its members. A minor addition to the draft, concerning renewals, was suggested and agreed and incorporated into the constituency statement. All comments
were supportive except for one, which emphasized the additional burden on registrants of the additional process.

3. Impact on Constituency.

While there is some recognition that the registration process might be slightly more complicated as a result of the proposed change, all member organizations but one considered the benefits of more prominent notification and registrant awareness to outweigh any burden.


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