PC World reported that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has made a proposal to do away with the very popular WHOIS database. This database stores all the registration information for websites domain names and where the domain is hosted. The WHOIS database is currently a public system that allows anyone with a computer and an internet connection to lookup the owner of a website. ICANN has proposed to create a new system for storing all records called the Aggregated Registration Data Service (ARDS) and this system would not be public. So, why does that matter?
In the current format, if a domain was blocking access or spamming your company, you could go to the WHOIS database and get their contact information. Most times you could solve an issue within a few hours. Especially, when it came to bullying.
One of the big concerns in online bullying is the burn page. A burn page is a website or social media page that is setup to defame and make fun of someone. In the new ARDS structure you would need a compelling reason to lookup the registration information. And if a minor owns that domain then, you better have a really good compelling reason with law enforcement backing or hire an attorney. The issue isn’t that you won’t get the ownership information eventually, it is that when it comes to bullying and suicide prevention time is of the essence. The sooner you can get burn pages taken down and address the issue with the owner the better chance you have of saving lives. Making registration information private could make bullying easier. Districts should consider their position on the ARDS and send their comments to ICANN.