Go Daddy wins ICANN approval for 'anonymous' registrations

International

Go Daddy Software has launched a new reseller service, which offers to be the titular owner of a domain name and provide contact information to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers's (ICANN's) WHOIS service. While this seems contrary to ICANN policy on accurate WHOIS information, Go Daddy has calmed ICANN's fears by promising to come down heavily on anyone abusing the system.

Go Daddy's service, which is offered through its sister company Domains By Proxy (DBP), means that the person (or entity) actually controlling the website can keep his/her contact information private and remain anonymous, ensuring that his/her details cannot be used by spammers or other marketers.

ICANN's advisory rules state:

"Registrars are required to obtain contact information from registrants, to provide it publicly by a WHOIS service, and to investigate and correct any reported inaccuracies in contact information for names they sponsor."

However, ICANN seems to have no problem with DBP's system because it does obtain and privately keep contact information for the beneficial owner. If a third party has a legitimate complaint against the beneficial owner, then his/her identity can be revealed pursuant to DBP's policies and procedures. The main concern that an anonymous registrant might be in a position to cause damage through defamation, spam or IP infringement and evade accountability, has been downplayed by DBP, which promises to take a hard line against customers who abuse the service.

Jonathan M Eisenberg, Manatt Phelps & Phillips, Los Angeles

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