The DNCL filed suit in Seattle against DomainTools LLC, seeking to block access to its Whois service and prevent previously-obtained data from being stored or published.
As covered in a previous post, the DNCL is the branch of InternetNZ that supervises policy formation. The lawsuit was filed in defense of its stated mission to maintain “a fair environment for the registration and management of .nz domain names.”
The claims made by the DNCL boil down to three types of violations:
— By sending queries to the registry’s Port 43 Whois service from different IPs, DomainTools circumvented the rate limits established in the Terms of Us
— The DNCL has launched initiatives to ensure that .nz registrants have the ability to keep certain data private. By publishing historical Whois data that predates these initiatives, DomainTools fails to honor privacy rights currently in effect
— High-volume Whois queries compromise the integrity of the Whois service, thus threatening access for those wanting to make legitimate searches.
Although it couldn’t be rightly classified as a GDPR case, the shadow of the European privacy law no doubt casts a shadow over this lawsuit. With the underlying practice of registries publishing Whois data becoming illegal in more and more jurisdictions, a service that stores such data and offers it for sale begins to look nefarious.
While some may lament that the future of DomainTools is murky, the domain investor community is rejoicing, if we take the comment section of Domain Name Wire as a representative sample. Perhaps the fact that DomainTools data can both help or hurt indisutry participants is a testament to its efficacy.
A full brief can be found here.