GoDaddy testimonials : Should I order GoDaddy?? Whois Privacy

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A recent decision by the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has determined that using WHOIS privacy on domains may be considered material falsification under federal law. The defendants in US v. Kilbride (9th Cir., 2009) were convicted under the CAN-SPAM Act in a case that involved criminal charges of intentional email spamming. Enacted by the US Congress in 2003, the CAN-SPAM Act prohibits false or misleading transmission information, deceptive headers, and requires email solicitations to give an easy opt-out method and be labeled as an advertisement, including the senders physical post address. Commercial emails that use false or misleading headers, or violate other CAN-SPAM provisions, such as falsified registration information, are subject to fines of up to $11,000 for each unsolicited email sent.

The CAN-SPAM act states that registration information is materially falsified if it is altered or concealed in a manner that would impair the ability of a recipient of the message&to; identify, locate, or respond to a person who initiated the electronic mail message& The defendants argued that since the terms impair, materially falsify and conceal are not defined in the statute they should be considered unconstitutionally vague. The court responded to the defendants assertion by clarifying that when Congress does not define a term in a statute, we construe that term according to it's ordinary, contemporary, common meaning. The court then made it clear in their ruling that the defendants use of private WHOIS information in this case materially falsified the registration information. The court declared that It should have been clear to the defendants that intentionally falsifying the identity of the contact person and phone number [through WHOIS privacy] for the actual registrant information constitutes intentionally decreasing the ability of a recipient to locate and contact the actual registrant, regardless of whether a recipient may still be left some avenue to do so. We therefore conclude defendants had notice that their conduct violated the CAN-SPAM act...

Comments (7)

Domain privacy is already illegal on .US domains and there was talk last year from the US government that they wanted ICANN to end domain privacy alltogether.

I think that at the very least we are going to see it become illegal for Americans to use privacy on any TLD within the next five years...

Comment #1

That sucks, but I guess I can see their point as I'm sure for every legit site using domain privacy there would be 50-100 sites using it for the wrong reasons.

If such a thing were to occur DubDubDubDot, would that also mean registrars based in the US couldn't provide domain protection services when registering a domain or is it way to early to speculate?..

Comment #2

One way to see this is like a knife. A knife is a kitchen tool and isn't illegal or criminal on it's own, but.

It can be if used in the specific context of murdering someone.

There's going to be push and pull between groups who oppose WHOIS privacy and those who are for.

It. Seven going eight years and counting...

Comment #3

It may be a stretch, but what about a domainer using whois privacy, who uses an email campaign to target end users..

Because the emails are unsolicited, can they be considered as spam by the recipitant and subject to this ruling ? .

If this is the case, it could be another tool in the reverse-highjackers toolbox...

Comment #4

In this context, I think the decision makes sense. US requirements for email are pretty stringent - it's mandatory to provide valid information about the sender as well as an opt-out. If you're using whois privacy you ARE obfuscating some of the required information.

It would be sad if this opens the door to the elimination of whois privacy altogether - there are so many perfectly valid reasons for using it. If they're unsolicited AND untargeted. If you send single, individually-targeted emails that's not spam. Bulk "form letter" emails sent to people who haven't opted in to receive them can be considered Unsolicited Bulk Email (ie.spam)...

Comment #5

Thanks for the explaination. Things are getting more and more complicated every day...

Comment #6


Even if the government decides to ban Privacy registrations, the criminal always seems to find ways around ithe system. Most of them are hit or miss and are gone before they can be discovered.

Such a ban hurts domainers like you and me and will do nothing to stop criminals and registrar domain warehousing.


Comment #7

This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.


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