The other day I went crazy and registered a ton of new domains and I wanted some that ended in “.us” but I was dismayed to find out from my domain registrar, Network Solutions, that “.us” domain names could not be protected via private registration. When I asked NetSol why they refused to privatize “.us” domains contact information, I was surprised to receive this reply:
Please note that the Private Registration service is not available for .US domain name registrations due to a dramatic change in the .US policy:
“The United States Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has recently completed its review of anonymous domain registration services by .US Accredited Registrars. At the conclusion of this review, NTIA directed NeuStar to phase out the offering of such services by Registrars or by any of its partners or resellers … [emphasis added]”
While we do not agree with this mandate, Network Solutions will comply and no longer offer the Private Registration service for .US domain name registrations. This policy is in effect immediately and applies only to .US domain name registrations.
In case you don’t know, a private domain registration provides the
ability to hide your personal contact information when others look up
your domain online through a public database. You can go to CentralOps.Net,
click on the “Domain Dossier” link, and type in the name of any domain
to see what you can learn about the person who owns the domain.
Spammers and Stalkers and other undesirables use those public searches
to find people.
An example of a private domain registration can be found if you go to CentralOps.Net and type in “urbansemiotic.com”
— part of what you will get returned is this contact information
provided by Network Solutions, but most domain registrars can privatize
your information in a similar manner:
David W. Boles
c/o Network Solutions
P.O. Box 447
Herndon, VA. 20172-0447
my personal information is protected by Network Solutions, anyone can
contact me through that information. With proper legal action, Network
Solutions will reveal my private contact details to the authorities if
the necessity arises: NetSol provides a private domain service, not a
secret domain service.
I pay NetSol $12 a year per domain for that
identity protection and it is worth every penny.
Now back to the “.us” domain privacy issue.
Does anyone know what’s really happening here?
What is the true intent of this new NTIA policy?
Is this a Department of Homeland Security ploy?
What’s the difference between registering a “.us” domain name verses a
“.info” or “.com” or “.net” or “.org” extension?
Why is “.us” singled out for non-privacy protection?
I did some deeper digging and here’s what Wired News reported in March, 2005:
The .us domain has been around since 1985. For nearly 20
years, it was used exclusively by schools and libraries, as well as
state and federal government offices. But in April 2002, it was opened
to the public for use — with the stipulation that domain owners either
be U.S. citizens or have a business in this country or some other
direct connection to the country. On Feb. 2, the NTIA sent a letter to NeuStar,
the company responsible for administering the .us domain and for
accrediting companies that sell the domain addresses.
The letter also
called on registrars to correct existing proxy registration information
— including name, phone number and postal and e-mail addresses — from
.us customers and update the public Whois database for those domains by
Jan. 26, 2006. The NTIA directive applied only to .us domains, because
the NTIA doesn’t set policy for other domain names, such as .com and
.net. In the letter it sent to NeuStar, the NTIA said its move was
intended to increase the accuracy and reliability of Whois information
for the public and for “law enforcement officials who rely on the information.
It would also allow the NTIA to contact website
owners if their domain registrar goes out of business and to transfer
their domain to another registrar…. NTIA’s edict would not ensure
that registration information was accurate, because those who really
want to conceal their identity or true contact information would
provide fake information — even if it violated the terms of agreement
for purchasing a .us domain.
Does anyone else feel a chill descending in the air around the ideas of privacy and freedom of speech in America?