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WHOIS Running the Internet: Protocol, Policy, and Privacy by Garth O. Bruen

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7 WHOIS POLICY ISSUES

With a firm technical and historical background in WHOIS, we will leap into the fiery pit of controversies. Specifically, how has the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) succeed or failed in its mission? ICANN is the true nexus of WHOIS policy and related issues. How can we address concerns over privacy and mass surveillance? What can we do about falsification by criminals or obfuscation by service providers? What are the legal implications of WHOIS proxies, malicious use of WHOIS by spammers and marketers, and denial of WHOIS access by registrars? What of the international disputes over WHOIS? Thin and thick WHOIS records; lawsuits from the intellectual property (IP) sector; how the police use WHOIS in various societies; issues of technical access; bulk WHOIS record access; government investigations in mass WHOIS inaccuracy; failures of registrars to comply with WHOIS policy; systems for handling WHOIS complaints; and various studies over the years on the impact of WHOIS—these are just a few of the myriad of controversial topics. This chapter will provide a very real-world perspective, and the reader will clearly see where their interests fit in the grand scheme. The chapter attempts to offer a balanced presentation through arguments drawn from various perspectives along with meaningful suggestions for solutions.

7.1 THE WHOIS POLICY DEBATE

The Internet is not just wires, signals, and “tubes” but also a political structure. ...

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