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National Physical Laboratory of the UK Selected to Conduct a gTLD Whois Privacy and Proxy Abuse Study

30 April 2012
By Liz Gasster

I am delighted to report that ICANN has engaged the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) of the United Kingdom to conduct a study of Whois Privacy and Proxy Abuse.

Guided by Richard Clayton, NPL has established a collaborative study team of domain specialists from three universities. Together, this team will examine the extent to which gTLD domain names involved in illegal or harmful Internet activities are registered via Privacy or Proxy services to obscure the perpetrator’s identity. Study results are expected in early 2013.

This study is being launched to help the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) and ICANN community better understand how often alleged bad actors obscure their identities using several common methods, including (but not limited to) Privacy/Proxy registration. By examining a variety of illegal or harmful Internet activities, including phishing, malware distribution, money laundering, unlicensed pharmacies, typosquatting, child sexual abuse images, spam, and cybersquatting, NPL will measure the percentage of associated gTLD domain names registered via Privacy or Proxy services, as well as the proportion of those registered with inaccurate or incomplete WHOIS details or stolen identities.

To determine whether Privacy/Proxy use is significantly greater among domains involved in illegal or harmful activities, NPL will compare alleged bad actor percentages to the 16-20% overall percentage found by ICANN’s 2010 Study on the Prevalence of Domain Names Registered Using Privacy or Proxy Services among the top 5 gTLDs. Beyond placing bad actor percentages into context, this study will not attempt to analyze broader use of Privacy/Proxy services by domains registered for entirely lawful purposes.

NPL is one of Europe’s leading National Measurement Institutes (NMI). Along with other NMI’s including the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), NPL works with industry and government to develop the latest state-of-the-art measurement techniques for all areas of science and technology.

To learn more about the Whois Privacy and Proxy Abuse Study, visit: http://gnso.icann.org/issues/whois/index.html


Liz Gasster