Guest contributor Zak Muscovitch is a domain name lawyer, based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has been practising domain name law for ten years. Go to http://www.DNattorney.com and http://www.muscovitch.com.
Privacy Protection for domainers who have legitimate portfolios is a little like a burka on a bikini model.
Although keeping one’s domain name registration details private is an attractive concept and may even help wary registrants avoid imparting too much information to prospective domain name dispute claimants, in my humble opinion, the practice is a business killer in the .CA realm. As a domain name lawyer I can rarely find out who owns what to try and put together deals. I can’t trace the history of domains to perform due diligence. I can’t identify connections between web sites and domain owners. It stymies me. And if it stymies me from doing .CA deals, that means that it is hurting business for .CA owners , who dont need any more negative factors affecting the Canadian market than they already have. Sure I can sometimes use other methods, but the utility of domaintools.com whois archives is lessening as time goes on, because it carries no new information for most .ca’s since all recent records are privacy protected.
By way of background, CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority made privacy protection a “default setting” [ed. for individual registrants], and considered this move a leadership position in the Internet world. And I did too. I am a big fan of privacy and thought that CIRA’s privacy protection policy was extraordinarily progressive and consumer-friendly. But I was wrong. It kills business. Imagine a stock exchange where there are no listings….That is what has happened here. And the benefit of privacy is nil for a domainer who is trying to hide, because there a CDRP [ed:.CA Dispute Resolution Policy] reveals your identity anhow….and hiding can actually encourage a CDRP…So it gets you nowhere other than to avoid someone like me finding out what domain name you own so I can easily contact you and know who you are, to make a deal.
In the Canadian .CA realm, domains are extraordinarily underdeveloped so we need all the contact and attention that we can get – not privacy! We dont want a marketplace with hidden vendors. We want a marketplace with vendors showing their wares off in public and making themselves available to bargain with each other.