Whois Might Become Whodat

If you've ever hosted a website, you know all about Whois. Whois is the searchable database of contact information for the owners of webdomains, overseen and admiministered by ICANN. (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names And Numbers.  It's very useful in combatting various kinds of internet annoyances, and downright criminality, at least insofar as the registration information is accurate in the first place. It's a daily part of the lives of many in law enforcement, systems administration, law and journalism.  And it might be going away.

"The Whois database is in fact the best, most well-recognized tool that we have to be able to track down who in fact you are doing business with," said Bohannon, the trade group's general counsel, adding that alternatives such as issuing subpoenas to service providers take more time and cost money.

Nonetheless, some privacy advocates are proposing scrapping the system entirely because they can't agree with the people who use the system on how to give domain name owners more options when they register - such as designating third-party agents. Privacy advocates say individuals shouldn't have to reveal personal information simply to have a Web site.

The so-called "sunset" proposal is expected to come up Wednesday before a committee of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, a key Internet oversight agency.

Concerns about anonymity seem to be trumping common sense here. If you think the Internet is the Wild West now, wait until anybody can do anything without the general public being able to easily find out who is doing it. Spammers and scammers and spoofers, start your engines.

Tags:  eco, WHO, COM