New version of '.be' registry's terms and conditions issued


DNS BE, the registry responsible for the organization of the Belgian country-code top-level domain (ccTLD), '.be', has issued a new version of its terms and conditions which further increases the privacy of private domain name holders. The new version of the terms and conditions entered into force on March 1 2008. They do not entail changes for businesses or organizations.

Under the old version of the terms and conditions, a domain name holder authorized DNS BE to make the following data accessible through the WHOIS on its website:

  • the name, address, telephone and fax number of the domain name holder;

  • the date of the registration and the status of the domain name;

  • the email address of the domain name holder; and

  • the language chosen for the dispute resolution.

The terms and conditions specified that the telephone and fax number of the domain name holder would not be publicly accessible or conveyed to third parties if the domain name holder was a private person.

Paragraph 7 of the new terms and conditions states that the WHOIS of a private domain name holder will no longer provide the name and address. Thus, the only personal data available on the WHOIS will be the email address of the domain name holder.

Third parties that have legitimate reasons to request the disclosure of the personal data of a private domain name holder can submit a motivated request to DNS BE. DNS BE will then evaluate the legitimacy of the request and decide whether to reveal the data to the requesting party.

There is a growing tendency for registries to shield the WHOIS data of registrants. AFNIC, the French registry for '.fr', introduced a new framework for access to WHOIS registrant data in December 2007. In contrast to the '.be' system, which applies to private registrants only, the '.fr' WHOIS system offers all domain name applicants the opportunity to mask all of their data. Personal data concerning individuals holding a '.fr' domain name are protected and are not published by default unless requested by the holder. AFNIC also encourages legal entities registering a domain name not to make their personal data publicly available (for further details please see "New framework for access to WHOIS registrant details").

Unlike generic top-level domain (gTLD) registries (eg, '.com' and '.net'), ccTLD registries have the authority to regulate access to WHOIS data. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers requires all gTLD registry operators to sign a standard contract which stipulates that domain name registrants must provide accurate contact information that may be made public for legitimate purposes, such as a complaint concerning the domain name.

David Taylor and Brechtje Lindeboom, Lovells LLP, Paris

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