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An end to WHOIS?

Today a committee at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will deal with calls for the ‘internet addressbook’ service WHOIS to be shut down over privacy concerns.

For those who have not used WHOIS before: the site provides access to contact details for registered owners of web addresses. A simple search of the WHOIS database by domain name brings up the info.

Its a useful tool for journalists wanting to establish who is behind online offerings and as a means of tracking down publishers details.

According to an Associated Press report, privacy groups argue that website publishers should not have to part with so much personal information just to set up a website. There are also issues surrounding the use of WHOIS by spammers.

But, as the headline of the AP article suggests, scrapping WHOIS would be a step too far. Not only is it a valuable resource for businesses, lawyers and the media, but shutting it down would be a rash answer to an ongoing debate over who is allowed access to such information and how.

This is something that ICANN has been discussing for some time now – let’s hope they don’t give up the search for a more workable solution now.

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