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Re: [ga] Privacy and Whois databases

On 15 October 1999, Srikanth Narra <snarra@talus.net> wrote:

>May be we can take a clue from the way credit files are kept in US and use
>the same model.
>The whois records stay private with register. Anyone wants to take a look at
>them pays a nominal amount by verifiable means like credit card or a check
>for the privileage to see the information. (that should cover the registers
>expenses for keeping the records private and to fend the queries).
>Also the person on whom information is requested is given the details of who
>and when has someone requested information on records pertaining to that

As an integral part of this, what is the legal definition of a "public
resource?"  I.e., what are the minimum access requirements that must be

I've been having private conversations about this very issue, and one of
the topics that evolved was this:

Information that must legally be publically available can still (legally)
be made more or less accessible.  For example, real estate purchases.
In many places in the US, you must go to a courthouse or other recording
agency, fill out a form, pay a fee, and obtain the documents either
on-site or later via the postal service.  One could argue that these
documents, while still 'publically available' are somewhat inaccessible
based on the procedures necessary to obtain them.  The same is true for
many types of public documents.

The interesting thing about online databases, and one that is becoming
more and more prevalent with issues surrounding privacy is not one
of whether the data is to be made public or not, but ease of access
to that data.  Putting a database online and making it freely, instantly,
and easily accessible to anyone with a minimum of knowledge makes the
data contained therein much *more* public" than having that same database
accessible via procedures such as verifiable requests, fees, lag times
on response, etc.  Both databases are publically available, but one
is more private by nature of its access method;  the latter method would
discourage many casual browsers.

Interestingly enough, this sort of approach would also go a long way
towards curtailing domain name speculation and what I'd like to call
'squatting with intent' -- i.e., buying up domain names in bad faith 
with an eye towards selling them back to the infringed-upon party.

On the other claw, many of the T/IP crowd won't like this approach, 
because it may deter the very squatting they seek to prevent, it will
also mean they would have to pay to search the databases for existing

Here is where existing and planned companies that will perform exactly
such searches come in.  The TM/IP interest pays company X a fee, company
X searches for potential infringements, and potentially pays a smaller
than normal fee for the search to the registry.  The competitiors of
X stand to gain business if they can come up with a better search 
algorithm than X, thus maximizing the difference between TM/IP fees
paid in and search fees paid out.  Or, the registry itself could go
into this business, although I believe current thinking would rule
that sort of behavior out.

Anyway, that's my handful of sheckels on the topic, for the moment.

Mark C. Langston
Systems Admin
San Jose, CA