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May 25, 2018

GDPR dries out WHOIS as a source for domain name enforcement

Now the day is here and not many EU residents will have missed that the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has come into force.

For domain name registrations and for the enforcement of your Intellectual Property rights, GDPR has far-reaching implications, in particular in connection to many domain name databases “WHOIS”, which publish domain name registrant details. WHOIS has always been an important source of information for intellectual property owners, attorneys, authorities and other interested parties. Owner information, name, mailing address and phone numbers of domain name owners have often been easily accessible for anyone.

However, as these entries could contain personal data identifying individual EU residents, ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which governs the generic top level domains (i.e. com, .net, .org etc.), could not ensure compliance with the new European regulation. Therefore, only limited information will be visible in these databases until further notice namely: responsible registrar, status of registration and relevant dates such as registration and renewal date.

“It is part of our everyday work to look up domain name owners in order to contact them on behalf of our clients”, says Digital Brands expert and Business Line Director Tobias Harhoff. “With masked or no data from the WHOIS database, it has become more difficult for us e.g. to investigate infringements and/or bad faith domain name registrations.  Although ICANN has proceeded to take a very safe position in relation to GDPR, other registries such as “.se” and “.dk” have chosen a more reasonable compliance implementation. Given the need for consumer protection and fraud prevention however, it is not unlikely that future interpretation of compliance with GDPR may again allow for further whois data also for .com.”

Zacco’s Digital Brand team will be following the development closely.

You are welcome to get in touch with Business Line Director Tobias Harhoff or send an email to dbs@zacco.com if you have any questions regarding the Digital Brand services we offer.

Tobias Harhoff

Tobias Harhoff

Business Line Director Digital Brand
+46 732 02 40 97
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