NPL Study Results



October 8, 2013 - The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) recently conducted a study at the behest of ICANN for the purpose of determining whether whether the percentage of privacy/proxy is greater among domains engaged in illegal or harmful activites than those not engaged in such activities. In short, do online criminals use proxy / privacy services more than non-criminals? The results are in, and yes, they do.

Whenever anyone registers a domain, their contact information is inserted into a publicly available WHOIS database. For example, the screen shot below shows the WHOIS record for CNN.com

Proxy or Private Registration Services allows the domain name holder to request that the Privacy / Proxy provider substitute their contact information in place of the Registrant's contact information. In this way, the Registrant can keep their own contact information private. The Proxy / Private Registration Service provider keeps a database of the Registrant's 'real' contact information in case it is needed

NPL's study has demonstrated that a greater percentage of the users of Proxy / Private Registration services are using those Privately Registered domains for illegal or harmful purposes. A key point to remember though is that even if a user does not use Proxy / Private Registration services, there is no guarantee that the information that the user provides for the WHOIS database will be accurate. For example, the user could utilize a false name and telephone number even if they do not purchaes Proxy / Private Registry services.

According to ICANN's website, "It is expected that this report will inform future GNSO policy development in relation to the Whois system." To put this in context, the Governmental Advisory Committee, in its 'Beijing Communique', has already expressed a desire for ICANN to require that Registry operators conduct checks on a statistically significant basis to identify registrations in its gTLD with deliberately false or incomplete WHOIS data.

ICANN is soliciting public comment on the results of the Proxy / Private Registration survey. Visit ICANN's website to provide your feedback on this important topic.


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