In a ruling that goes against current trends towards data privacy, the Chilean Supreme Court has determined that the complete list of .cl domains should be made available to anyone who submits a request.

The .cl registry sent a bulk e-mail condemning the decision, which in turn caused a storm of reactions on Twitter.  Before getting to the fallout, let’s go over the facts of the case.

On September 3, 2018, a person named Claudio Higuera Palma requested that the .cl registry (hereafter NIC CL) provide him a list of all .cl domains purchased to date, together with their respective expiry dates.  He did not request contact data.

Note that Mr. Higuera is not a person known to this author and a LinkedIn search for this name returns only one result, a man working in an unrelated industry.  Who this person is and what motive they posess remains unknown.

NIC CL rejected Mr. Higuera’s petition, referring primarily to the excessive burden that complying with his request would inflict upon its operations. Upon being rejected, Mr. Higuera placed a complaint with the Transparency Commission in which he posed the hypothetical question, “If they don’t have the domain list readily-available, then how do they process services for existing domains (in realtime)?

The Transparency Commission took Mr. Higuera’s case and asked NIC CL to put its motives for rejection in writing.  The response was the following, each point alluding to an admitted exception to the Law of Transparency:

  • Complying would force the registry to pull its personnel from their usual tasks to work on generating the domain list, causing service levels to plummet
  • There is already a Whois available to satisfy legitimate needs to obtain this type of information
  • Although maintained by a public entity, the data requested by Mr. Higuera is of a private nature

Each argument was subsequently rejected by the Transparency Commission.

The rejection carried with it a requirement that NIC CL comply with the Mr. Higuera’s petition.  In response, NIC CL requested an injuction with the Appellate Court, which ultimately granted it.  The Transparency Commission then appealed to the Supreme Court, which on October 25 reversed the injunction.

Just a few days later on November 6, a lawyer active in matters concerning .cl domains made his own request with the Transparency Commission to be provided with the domain list, thereby representing the first test of the Supreme Court’s ruling.  On November 27, NIC CL then sent s bulk e-mail, asking contacts to register their preference as to whether their data be provided to this lawyer.

A first wave of Twitter responses merely lamented the Supreme Court decision, but after the second e-mail from NIC CL, the posts became more agressive.  Unfortunately, the close proximity of the two e-mails led readers to the erroneous conclusion that the lawyer who made the September 6 request was the same person behind the long-running court case.  He became the target of attacks, both via Twitter and the contact form made available by NIC CL to register responses to his information request.

Further confusing matters was a third e-mail in which NIC CL announced that the aforementioned lawyer had withdrawn his request.  Many took this to mean that the Supreme Court ruling was now irrelevant and the matter therefore resolved.  In truth, NIC CL was explicit in saying in the third e-mail that this is probably the first of several requests that will be made, in light of the Supreme Court ruling.

This is very much a story that is still developing, but we wanted to make sure readers were apprised.  Expect updates to this story in the coming weeks and months.

 

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