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RE: [dow1tf] Re: WHOIS and Internet research

  • To: "'Wendy Seltzer'" <wendy@xxxxxxxxxxx>, dow1tf@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: RE: [dow1tf] Re: WHOIS and Internet research
  • From: "Neuman, Jeff" <Jeff.Neuman@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2003 08:46:33 -0600
  • Sender: owner-dow1tf@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Thanks Wendy.

I would recommend that those drafting the notice to go out to organizations
look at this note from Ben and use to help guide you in the development of
questions.  After a final questionnaire is developed, we may ask Ben to
respond again to those new questions.



-----Original Message-----
From: Wendy Seltzer [mailto:wendy@xxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Tuesday, December 23, 2003 9:39 AM
To: dow1tf@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [dow1tf] Re: WHOIS and Internet research

I asked Ben Edelman, a Fellow at the Berkman Center, about use of WHOIS 
data in his Internet research and how that research would be affected by 
loss of automated access.  His projects have included studies of registrant 
compliance with TLD restriction policies; patterns of bulk registration; 
and accuracy of registrant data.  See 
<http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/edelman.html> .  I pass along his full 
response below.  He also includes some URLs for other Internet researchers.


>Others doing this kind of work: <http://www.zooknic.com>,
><http://www.registrarstats.com>, <http://www.sotd.info>,
><http://www.dailychanges.com>.  But I don't think these folks use Whois
>data, for obvious reasons (e.g. they can't get it).
>The rise of GIF and other restricted access to HTTP Whois, when combined
>with disabling of port 43 Whois, essentially puts an end to researchers'
>ability to do the kind of work posted to
><http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/people/edelman/name-restrictions/>, and
><http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/people/edelman/dotus>.  Indeed, since HTTP
>Whois is already pretty well locked down and since some registrars have
>already disabled port 43 (contrary to policy, to be sure), this research
>already become sufficiently impractical that I generally don't spend the
>time trying at this point.
>I agree that an end to machine-readable on-demand data favors those with
>bulk licenses of Whois data, e.g. T&T and MarkMonitor, as well as those who
>can afford to hire these companies.  This preference comes at the expense
>independent data analysis folks who surely don't have $10k per registrar
>year.  My intuition is that the result will be higher prices from T&T and
>MM, probably along with reduced innovation.  Certainly there will be fewer
>independent reports as to the sorts of domain name phenomenon that can only
>be discovered using Whois data.
>Some possible policy responses:
>1) Require that port 43 Whois remain available to bona fide researchers.
>Policy could require that researchers demonstrate an affiliation with an
>accredited university or organization -- or not, depending on desired
>treatment of independent bona fide researchers.  (I would think most, but
>not all, will hold some institutional affiliation.)  Access could be
>provided on a by-IP basis or on a passworded basis.  This is probably not
>unduly burdensome on registrars because I gather registrars will continue
>operating port 43 Whois servers for their own internal purposes
>transfers, etc.).
>2) Require that bulk Whois data be made available to bona fide researchers
>on preferential terms (i.e. considerably less than $10k/registrar-year max
>currently specified in registrar contracts with ICANN).  Given the
>nature of this data, it would still be important to make recipients sign
>contracts as to use and distribution of the data.  But to facilitate
>meaningful research, the contract shouldn't prohibit partial republication
>of the sort linked above.
>3) Require that bulk Whois data and/or port 43 Whois data be made available
>to some notion of "startup" Whois searching services that are unable to pay
>the higher fees.  Fees could be a function of these companies' initial
>revenues, perhaps, or fees could be indexed to registrars' actual marginal
>costs of distributing the data to licensees (e.g. bytes downloaded from FTP

Wendy Seltzer -- wendy@xxxxxxxxxxx
Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School
Chilling Effects: http://www.chillingeffects.org/

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