Namecheap Launches

Namecheap has teamed up with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Fight for the Future to launch, a website that informs people about a potential policy change to the  Whois database  that ICANN is considering. A Whois change could eliminate domain  privacy and proxy services for domain name registrations, and that could have a serious repercussions for many domain owners  and business owners.

When you visit  the  website, you are given information about how you  can “let ICANN know that you object to any release of personal information without a court order.” Visitors are able to submit comments directly to ICANN via the website, and I was told more than 5,000 comments were already  submitted to ICANN over the weekend, and over 360 voicemails were left.

According to the website, here is the issue at hand:

“Under new guidelines proposed by MarkMonitor and others who represent the same industries that backed SOPA, domain holders with sites associated to “commercial activity” will no longer be able to protect their private information with WHOIS protection services. “Commercial activity” casts a wide net, which means that a vast number of domain holders will be affected. Your privacy provider could be forced to publish your contact data in WHOIS or even give it out to anyone who complains about your website, without due process. Why should a small business owner have to publicize her home address just to have a website?”

This is not the first time Namecheap has taken an activist role in Internet governance issues. The company was also behind the website, and the company was actively involved in opposing  SOPA.

Commenting on this issue to me, Namecheap CEO Richard Kirkendall said, “privacy and due process are both cornerstones that are central to a free and democratic society.  We Must do everything we can to protect both. The only people that will be affected here are the innocent as any wrongdoer will simply use false contact information so this will have little to no effect and harm innocent people with a right to privacy in the process.”

The issue of Whois privacy surely impacts many domain investors who prefer to keep their contact details private. For those who wish to contact ICANN to express their concerns about this policy change, the close date for comments is July 7, 2015.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn
  1. It’s cute how they’re making it look like it’s not about the money they’re going to lose due to not being able to offer whois privacy protection service anymore.

    • It’s cute how you haven’t noticed us on the frontlines of of online and privacy issues for the last 4 years. It is part of our culture and DNA and is what drives most of what we do. What exactly have you done to contribute to the stability of the internet other than posting smug comments online?

    • Yes, namecheap is always out there promoting net neutrality, privacy issues etc, donating money to causes that serve to help registrants. my hats off to you guys.

    • thanks

      Thanks for doing this Richard.

      It might help if you put up some examples on respectonlineprivacy. I have looked around online and a lot of people simple think of commercial as a guy who is selling defective car parts or whatever.

      And a lot of people that have a site/blog/forum that talks about model trains don’t have anything to lose by putting up their personal information and doesn’t understand why anyone would feel differently. But that situation is not true of everyone.

      Yall obviously would want to tweak this but something like this might help.


      Commercial use:

      Unless the website owner is rich when sites start to generate traffic they will turn commercial. At the least you will have google ads to pay expenses. What expenses? First if a user gets decent traffic web-hosting gets expensive. If you have any software on the site (forum software, backups, etc) expect fees to go up with traffic. Then you might set up a llc to protect yourself from lawsuits (large sites get sued) so you have legal fees. So in many cases ads do little more than pay for basic expenses.

      Then what kind of situations could someone want to be anonymous.
      Joe Six Pack lives in a conservative town but is running a large forum for people that are transgender. This coming up could lead to workplace discrimination. His kids could get bullied at school. His day time job could suffer.

      Or someone runs a large blog and wants to expose a local cult because they have bullied people that speak out against them. That person might think twice if their identity and address is exposed.

      A police officer that runs a large site that wants to discuss issues they see in the police department.

      Criticizing a group of radical jihadist or kkk groups in your area. Maybe you don’t want them having your address where you and your kids sleep at night.

      An ex-pat that wants to discuss corruption in their home country on their blog that doesn’t want to risk their repercussions to relatives for speaking out.

      If one doesn’t think that their are repercussions for speaking out look to the recent drug wars in Mexico. After a number of journalists were killed the local paper in Juaraz basically threw in the white flag and said in a sign of submission they would cease all reporting on the drug trade. (

      Critics might say “just turn off google ads” but not every person has the financial resources to spend 100’s of dollars in hosting and licensing fees to keep a site going without any revenue. Plus sometimes these people are forgoing overtime work in order to continue working on their sites.

      And the chilling effect is on blogs that discuss a number of issues. They can lose all their revenue and go in the red each month or simply avoid any discussion that could get them in trouble. Especially if that person is forced to have their home address available so random people on the internet will know where they live, where their kids live, where their kids go to school. It will certainly stop them from exposing groups that are know to retaliate.

  2. markmonitor wants to do away with whois privacy yet uses their own version of whois privacy with about hypocrisy.

  3. Interesting because any such provision is going to run counter to Canadian privacy laws. I suspect issues like that will cause a lot of stakeholders to tell them where to stuff it.


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