Friday, 19 July 2019 10:53

US court upholds NZ Domain Name Commission case over privacy

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Brent Carey: "...the domain name industry needs to pay attention to privacy and change with the times.” Brent Carey: "...the domain name industry needs to pay attention to privacy and change with the times.” Supplied

A court in the US has blocked the digital intelligence-gathering outfit DomainTools from scraping information about New Zealand domain name owners from the country's Domain Name Commission and making it public.

This is the second time that courts have acted against DomainTools; the first decision in favour of .nz domain name owners' privacy was in September 2018. This was appealed by DomainTools but it lost the case in the US Court of Appeals on Thursday.

A statement from the New Zealand Domain Name Commission said the court decision would prevent DomainTools from breaching the privacy of owners of .nz domain name owner or from publishing their details.

Last the Domain Name Commission had offered a privacy option to all .nz owners, which meant they could withhold their addresses and phone numbers from appearing in an online search. More than 63,000 domain name owners had opted to take up this feature.

“The decision strengthens our commitment to protect the privacy rights of .nz registrants. It sends a message to all companies dealing with registrants’ personal information online to be compliant with privacy requirements,” said Domain Name Commissioner Brent Carey.

”We are doing our bit to balance privacy and security online by taking legal action, but the domain name industry needs to pay attention to privacy and change with the times.”

The statement said the court victory was important to managers of other countries domain name systems who might consider starting legal action against DomainTools and other similar companies where terms of use are breached.

This is not the first case of an American company trying to take advantage of a New Zealand outfit. Back in 2013, after a protracted fight, the Horowhenua Library Trust, the birthplace of the open source Koha integrated library system, succeeded in preventing an American defence contractor from poaching its trademark.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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