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Who will have access to WhoIs?

Reporting on this week’s discussions at the ICANN meeting in San Juan about possible changes to the WhoIs database National Journal Technology Daily quotes me as feeling "generally optimistic" about the situation, even though the most difficult issues on which to reach consensus still remain. The story points to broad agreement that access to Whois data should remain largely unchanged for government and law enforcement, but that for individuals, a so-called "operational point of contact" would shield certain personal details. The greatest conflict arose over the question of the level of access available to the private sector when it needs to identify someone who owns or manages an Internet address. I warned that it will be a challenge to reach consensus here because businesses feel strongly about protecting their customers from phishing, pharming and denial-of-service attacks and do not want to give up their current level of WhoIs access.

Meanwhile, the AP has a good roundup of discussions about creation of new top level domain names, especially international domain names using non-Roman characters. In addition to purely technical questions, such as whether non-Roman characters would disrupt the domain name system, ICANN is grappling with some very difficult political issues, such as how to decide disputes between countries that want to control the same domain.

The Department of Justice is alerting e-mail users to a possible phishing attack using phony emails referring to a fraudulent IRS case filed against the recipient. And, the Washington Post is reporting that a complex, ongoing attack on users is turning victim’s sites and computers into hosts for phishing scams and computer viruses.

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports that the FTC, in a blow to big content providers, has unanimously concluded that there is no need for new federal rules safeguarding the flow and speed of information on the Internet because, according to the FTC, there is no evidence of market failure.