CIRA unveils new WHOIS privacy policy

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) has unveiled a new policy that aims to increase the protection of private information available in its WHOIS database.
CIRA operates the ‘.ca’ country-code top-level domain for Canada, and maintains the WHOIS look-up database offering public access to information relating to over 1 million domain names currently registered with CIRA.
The WHOIS database provides a convenient place to search for information regarding the many corporate and individual registrants with ‘.ca’ domain names. However, with the recent introduction of new Canadian privacy legislation, including the Personal Information and Protection of Electronic Documents Act, CIRA re-examined its privacy policy.
After a lengthy consultation process spanning several years and involving individuals from all areas in the public and private sectors, CIRA developed a new policy to ensure the protection of the privacy and personal information of individual domain name registrants. Parties wishing to contact an individual registrant regarding a potential commercial transaction or a possible trademark infringement should submit their request directly to CIRA, which will then contact the registrant on behalf of the inquiring party. This ensures that individual registrants will remain anonymous throughout the entire process.
CIRA is committed to ensuring that interested parties can continue to access information relating to the registration of a domain name (eg, the registration date, the expiration date of the registration and the internet protocol number of the domain name server). However, under the new policy, private information such as the registrant’s name, email, address and phone number will not be available for domain names registered by individuals. In cases where the domain name is registered by a corporation, corporate information will continue to be available under a WHOIS search.
In order to facilitate the collection of information for civil and criminal proceedings, CIRA provides a sample court order on its website to help the judiciary gain access to information that is necessary for the administration of the legal system.
CIRA's new policy will come into force on June 10 2008.
Adam Tracey, Macera & Jarzyna - Moffat & Co, Ottawa

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