15 April 2019Copyright

Film studios urge FTC to address restricted access to WHOIS tool

The  Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has urged the US Federal Trade Commission ( FTC) to address the “diminished access” to information, which it said is vital to combating illegal conduct online.

The MPAA is a trade association representing Netflix and five major film studios in Hollywood.

In  a letter on April 8, the MPAA asked the FTC to continue urging the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ( ICANN) to adopt a model that allows authorised access to WHOIS information to help protect consumers and copyright owners.

ICANN’s WHOIS gave entities the ability to lookup any generic domain to find out the registered domain holder.

But after the EU’s privacy regulation, GDPR, was implemented last year, ICANN restricted the access to personal data of site owners.

The MPAA said that without basic contact data for holders of internet domain names, it loses the benefits of a tool that has long been described as “fundamental to protecting consumer privacy and rooting out unfair and deceptive trade practices”.

It said WHOIS information can help combat identity theft, theft of intellectual property, fraud, cyber-attacks, illicit sale of opioids, and human trafficking.

Additionally, the MPAA said two-thirds of 55 global law enforcement agencies surveyed said they no longer find that the WHOIS system meets their investigative needs, according to a recent presentation by the FTC’s international consumer protection counsel.

“With all that is happening on the internet, now is not the time for reduced online transparency and accountability. Privacy regimes should protect consumers, not criminals,” the MPAA said.

The trade association warned that if ICANN fails to adopt and implement a solution, “the need to protect US citizens and legitimate commerce” may give congress no choice but to pass legislation that would grant access to WHOIS information.

This story was first published on TBO.

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