June 1, 2006
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I’ve written a piece for The Register which went up this morning about Nominet having to deal with a US company surreptiously data-mining the Whois details for .uk domains to use in their products.
It’s an interesting story in that it highlights something that most people are really very unaware of, plus helps outline the risks we face in not building sufficient privacy laws with digital technology. Nominet is a rare example of a main Net registry that provides a minimum of Whois information about domain owners and also has an opt-in to remove all information except your name.
This system about thanks to two Australian con-men a few years ago taking the entire Whois for .uk domains and then using it to send people letters telling them they had to pay extension fees to keep their domains. It was a scam, but one that 50,000 Nominet customers were fooled by.
That isn’t my main point however. My main point is that while under European law, the Whois data is copyright and therefore protected, under ICANN rules, all global top-level domains – which means all dotcoms, dotnets, dotorgs etc – have to make all people’s contact details publicly available, and that means home address and telephone number and email address.
November 26, 2001
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Movie actor Kevin Spacey has lost a landmark court battle over ownership of www.kevinspacey.com.
Judge Gary A Feess, of the United States District Court of the Central District of California, ruled on 14 November that if Mr Spacey wished to take ownership of the domain to court he would have to file in a Canadian court, where its current owner – the notorious “cybersquatter” Jeffrey Burgar resides.
The decision, in which Mr Burgar and his lawyer Mr EC Grimm “raise a novel threshold question regarding the exercise of personal jurisdiction where the Defendants’ ‘contact’ with the forum have taken place in cyberspace”, should at least allow a more level playing field in relation to future domain disputes. From now, complainants are unlikely to be able to chose where a case is heard, removing any incentive for law courts in certain areas to advertise their stronger approach to large companies and rich individuals.
This decision (case CV-3848) effectively ruins any hopes Mr Spacey had of taking over the domain, without buying it.