Whois Could Fall Victim To GDPR

The Whois registry is a vestige of a bygone era. Back in the days when we could all trust each other, it was a public register of who had registered a domain and some basic contact details. But over the years it has been abused by spammers and others. ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the overseer of DNS and the Whois registry has been working with the European Union’s Data Protection Working Party but won’t have a solution in place the makes Whois compliant with the GDPR.

ICANN has said in a blog post that they’ve been looking for a way to make Whois compliant. But, given that isn’t likely before the May 25 live date for GDPR they’ve been after a moratorium on the EU enforcing the new rules.

A letter from the EU to ICANN explains that such a moratorium won’t be coming. And that means Whois, as we know it today, could disappear next month.

New arrangements, such as anonymised email and other tools have been proposed by ICANN, but they won’t be ready in time. And its also saying a shutdown of Whois could be bad news. And while that’s possibly true, it’s hard to believe that the matter has come to this point.

The GDPR hasn’t been sprung on ICANN at short notice – it’s been widely discussed for almost a decade and abuses of Whois have been happening for ages. So, I think ICANN’s efforts in doing something about privacy concerns and GDPR compliance have been been less than stellar.

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