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International Trademark Association Responds to Changes in WHOIS Domain Name Directory

28-Jun-2018 | Source : AG-IP News | Visits : 862
NEW YORK, New York - The International Trademark Association (INTA) announced in a press release that it will continue its advocacy for an accessible, contactable, and accurate WHOIS global database of domain name registrants, and that it has taken steps to help trademark professionals navigate the recent changes that limit access to important information which, until recently, was publicly available in the WHOIS system.

The changes were brought about by the International Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to meet the new privacy rules of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). ICANN, the steward of the development of policy and enforcement related to WHOIS, approved a Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data on May 17 in advance of GDPR’s May 25 effective date. 
 
The Temporary Specification seriously limits the amount of publicly available information and only provides an anonymous email address or web form from which an email could be forwarded rather than a live contact.  
 
“We recognize the importance of personal privacy and the balance between individual rights and the need to prevent customer fraud and abuse.  The information that remains publicly available under the Temporary Specification is insufficient to ensure a secure and reliable domain name system.  Ensuring continued access is absolutely necessary to protect consumers on the Internet,” said Lori Schulman, INTA’s Senior Director for Internet Policy.

“INTA’s goal is to get the right information to the right people for the right reasons, and has historically supported an accessible, contactable, and accurate WHOIS system,” Schulman said. “With criminal online counterfeiting activity growing exponentially, we hope for a timely resolution that will allow access to information with respect to the privacy rules set by the GDPR.” 
 
INTA members use ownership information in the WHOIS database to locate and contact registrants behind websites that steal personal information, sell counterfeit goods, distribute malicious software, or perpetrate fraud through the unauthorized and infringing use of brand names. Anticounterfeiting and consumer protection are two of INTA’s policy priorities.

While INTA’s members and consumer protection and law enforcement advocates are adjusting to a “new normal,” the Association has published WHOIS Challenges: A Toolkit for Intellectual Property Professionals to help them navigate the new world of online enforcement under ICANN’s Temporary Specification.
 
To understand the impact the new policies are having in the field, INTA is also encouraging its members to share their stories and to report any problems obtaining a registrant’s information from registrars or registries via a dedicated email address. Reports will be anonymized, and data will be used to inform INTA’s advocacy positions moving forward. 
 
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