[nc-whois] UK WHOIS Debate
BBC News Online has a good story today on planned changes to the .uk
Privacy worries fuel domain name concerns
Friday, 14 June, 2002, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Some fear the changes will bring unwanted callers Web users are
worried that changes to a list of who owns which .co.uk web domain
will put their personal privacy at risk.
Later this year Nominet, which runs the .uk domain, is planning to
expand the amount of personal information people can find out about
owners of these domains.
Some fear the changes will put them at risk of identity theft and
endanger the people they run sites for.
Nominet said it was still discussing the best way to makes changes to
its database and that most other registries already supply far more
information about domain holders than it was planning to do.
Every web domain, such as .com or .uk, has an allied database that
lets people look up the owner of a particular site.
Before now Nominet's database has only returned basic information
about an owner such as their name, when the name was registered and
the servers hosting it.
Later this year Nominet is planning to expand the information
returned by this database to include the name and address of a domain
Nominet says the change is needed to bring it in line with other
registries and to make it easier to contact and identify domain
holders in the event of disputes.
But the proposed changes have worried some people who fear that the
change could erode their personal privacy.
One worried web user, Colin Clarke, has set up the Nominet-No website
to protest about the changes.
Mr Clarke said the changes could put many domain owners, and the
people they run sites for, at risk.
He said in other countries some criminals have used the information
in whois databases for other domains to carry out identity theft,
fraud and even to steal control of a popular domain.
"The more information we supply someone with the more chance that
something like identity theft will happen," he told BBC News Online.
Lesley Cowley, managing director of Nominet, said the changes would
not expose personal addresses because the vast majority of the .co.uk
domains were owned by companies rather than individuals.
She said that the address in the Nominet database did not have to be
a home address. Many net service providers were happy to forward mail
to customers and act as a contact point for domain information, she
Although the changes to the Nominet database were going to be made,
said Mrs Cowley, said it had not made a final decision on how people
"We are looking into alternatives that will solve the problem," she said.