Under the existing process, any person or entity that registers a Web site name is required to provide their name, e-mail and physical addresses, and a telephone number. The information is then entered into a publicly searchable database.
Privacy groups say the domain registry has become a data-mining dream for marketers and spammers, who constantly trawl the database for new e-mail addresses. Opponents of any change in the system counter that the data is essential in resolving intellectual property disputes, aiding cyber crime investigations, and helping computer security experts quickly shutter fraudulent Web sites.
Under the change being debated Wednesday at an ICANN meeting in Los Angeles, Web site owners would still be required to provide accurate contact information when registering a Web site. But domain registrants could opt out of having their personal information published to a public database. Instead, they would be permitted to list a third-party contact — such as the Web site registrar that sold the domain name to the registrant. The third party would then route any legal, technical or operational inquiries to the registrant.
[…] But Milton Mueller, a partner in the Internet Governance Project and professor at Syracuse University, said he believes ICANN is likely to punt on the issue by voting for a third proposal currently on the table, which calls for additional studies on the privacy impact of the WHOIS database.
Honestly, the most interesting thing about this article is the characterization of ICANN as a group of Internet policymakers.