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    Michael Geist: CIRA’s ‘whois’ policy a stunning setback for privacy

    In May, I blogged about changes that the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) planned to make to the country’s domain registration data. Various privacy advocates applauded the move by CIRA. However, CIRA quietly made other changes that are not protective of privacy. Canadian expert Michael Geist writes about the problems in the Toronto Star.

    When the policy launched on June 10, the personal information [of domain name registrants] was shielded from the general public, yet CIRA unexpectedly instituted the back-door approaches that grant access to both law enforcement and trademark interests.

    In the case of law enforcement, police can bring cases to CIRA involving immediate risk to children or the Internet (such as denial-of-service attacks) and the agency will hand over registrant information without court oversight.

    While it would have been preferable to disclose these exceptions earlier, they appear to be reasonably tailored to specific time-sensitive harm.

    In the case of trademark holders (as well as copyright and patent owners), however, claims that a domain name infringes their rights will be enough to allow CIRA to again disclose registrant information. This represents a stunning about-face after years of public consultation on the whois policy.

    Read the rest of his analysis.

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