The Anonymous Domain Registration Might Be Prohibited Shortly
Opinions Are Divided Over the EU’s Legislation Regarding the Anonymous Domain Registration.
The European Union is currently working on laws that would make it illegal for everybody to register domains before going through an identification process. This new law would apply to all the individuals living in Europe.
How Does the Domain Registration Usually Work?
In order to get a domain name, you have to register the name you want with ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). ICANN is a non-profit organization in charge of coordinating the upkeep and operations of several databases related to the Internet’s namespaces and numerical spaces, making sure the network is functioning securely and stably.
As soon as a domain name is registered on the internet, the users’ personal information such as name, physical & email addresses, and mobile number will be collected by a registrar.
Nevertheless, the accuracy of the registered information is not being confirmed, and it may contain erroneous data.
At the moment, the users who want to register a domain name only have to provide information such as a mobile number and a name. However, there is no verification in order to confirm or refute the new domain ownership.
With the new EU instruction, registrants of new domains will be obligated to provide legitimate contact information that is actually theirs, as well as their full name, email address, and physical address.
In order to ensure the availability of accurate, verified, and complete domain name registration data, TLD registries and entities providing domain name registration services should be required to collect domain name registration data. They should aim to ensure the integrity and availability of such data by implementing technical and organizational measures, such as a confirmation process for registrants
In particular, TLD registries and entities providing domain name registration services should establish policies and procedures for the collection and maintenance of accurate, verified, and complete registration data, as well as for the prevention and correction of inaccurate registration data.
Pros and Cons
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) made its position clear. The non-profit organization supports the new EU directive, together with numerous other institutions and representatives of copyright holders.
They stated that anonymous domain registration can be extremely dangerous as it is frequently used by cybercriminals to perform malicious activities. These platforms will continue to be unaffected by law enforcement disruption as long as their owners and operators will stay anonymous.
One might say that the solution is to report and take offline the domains used for malicious activities, but this will only mean endless work for the registrants as new ones can be created in no time.
On the other side, regarding the domain registration matter, MEP Patrick Breyer (Pirate Party) thinks that the new directive puts the activist’s and whistleblower’s safety in jeopardy by exposing their identities. He added that this is their only layer of protection.
This indiscriminate identification policy for domain holders is a big step towards abolishing anonymous publications and leaks on the Internet.
This policy endangers website operators, because only anonymity effectively protects against data theft and loss, stalking and identity theft, doxxing, and ‘death lists’.
The right to anonymity online is particularly indispensable for women, children, minorities, and vulnerable persons, victims of abuse and stalking, for example. Whistleblowers and press informants, political activists and people in need of counseling, fall silent without the protection of anonymity.
Germany’s top-level domain (.de) registry DENIC also declared:
We would also like to point out that identification of the registrant does not provide information about the entity exercising actual technical control over the delegated namespace and even less so about entities providing content or services within that namespace.
Later this month, the lead industry committee will adopt its stance, and discussions with the European Council will begin shortly after.