Privacy by default account setting.

Today we introduce a new account setting called:”Default Privacy Protect setting”, which you can access by clicking here.

Setting disabled.

When selected, domain name registrations and transfers will not use our privacy service automatically. This is how it used to work for years.

Setting enabled when free (and available)

When enabled all domain name registrations and transfers will automatically use our privacy service. Regardless if you use WHMCS, our API or the domain name manager.

A list of available TLDs that can be used for this service is located here.

We keep recommending this service as it is unknown if gTLD registries will continue to publish the data in the WHOIS or not. Several large gTLDs will no longer publish the WHOIS, similar to how we will operate our WHOIS server. But some of them most likely will keep publishing registrant data.

Enabled (when available)

Same as above but also will use privacy services that are not free of charge. Please check the price list in your account if that is the case.

Registration

When you register a domain name you can override your account settings if required. Select the desired action from the drop-down menu.

Current Customers.

At the moment the default setting is not active, as mentioned earlier. Due to the new ICANN contractual regulations that have been rushed out of the door on 17-05-2018 this week, we are reviewing the option to turn this on for all customers. I apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause.

Post GDPR gTLD Transfers

As mentioned in a previous blog the WHOIS will change drastically over the next few weeks.

This means we will have to change a few procedures, starting real soon.

At the moment when you start a transfer through the API or domain manager, our system sends an FOA to the registrant or the admin contact based on our contractual ICANN requirements. Once the FOA has been approved by one of the above contacts the transfer is requested at the registry,

I and other colleagues at the ICANN Registrar Stakeholder Group (RrSG) discussed the issues and we came up with the following a solution, a solution that has strong support. More details about this solution and the letter to ICANN can be located here.

Transfer solution post-GDPR

We will no longer send the incoming FOA, the auth code is sufficient to request the transfer on a registry level.

The losing registrar will still be required to send the outgoing FOA, the registrant can agree or decline the request. If there is no response from the registrant the transfer will be processed automatically after 5-7 days unless the losing registrar not acknowledges the transfer and cancel the transfer on their side.

Domain names that are set to transfer prohibited will not be transferred, if your customer wishes to transfer in or out, the transfer lock needs to be removed prior to the transfer. We recommend setting your domain names to transfer prohibited and regularly change the auth-codes for the domain names under your management for security reasons.

The above-described transfer process should not be to complex for most resellers, as it works somewhat similar how the larger ccTLD registries operate.

Recommended domain name security reading

A Registrant’s Guide to Protecting Domain Name Registration Accounts a report from the ICANN Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC)

SSAC Advisory on Registrant Protection: Best Practices for Preserving Security and Stability in the Credential Management Lifecycle

Domain theft?

Though at first glance it seems the above changes might lead to more domain theft. This is counter mitigated due to the fact that the WHOIS info will no longer contain registrant data and email addresses. This info is usually an attack vector for hackers who steal domain names, with this attack factor no longer in play we expect to see fewer cases of domain theft.

Key transfer changes post GDPR summary.

  • Transfers will continue to require a valid authorization code; just like EU ccTLDs
  • The gaining registrar will no longer be required to send a Form of Authorisation (FOA) to the registrant, again most likely there is no WHOIS info to create one.
  • The losing registrar will continue to send an FOA (aka outgoing FOA) that allows the registrant or admin contact to ACK (acknowledge) or NACK (not acknowledge) the transfer;
  • If there is no action/response, the transfer will auto-ACK by the registry after five days from initiation of transfer;
  • Registration information will not be transferred as part of the IRTP-C, registrants will independently re-enter transfer information with the gaining registrar. This will include entering into a registration agreement with the new registrar as it is now.

 

 

The ICANN WHOIS system is gone, the process for a GDPR compliant WHOIS has started!

 

After twelve months of endless discussions and a looming deadline, ICANN received information from the Art 29 Working Party. 

The EU Data Protection Authorities will not grant ICANN forbearance regarding the May 25th deadline when it comes to the WHOIS. Again the DPA’s re-confirmed their advise towards ICANN and does not deviate much from the advice they have provided ICANN since 2000.

The full press release from ICANN and the Article 29 WP letter can be read here.

Now that it is official there will be no forbearance regarding WHOIS, which was a silly request to begin with, registrars must shift into gear to get the WHOIS GDPR compliant.

Our solution will look like the screenshot below, though the below is subject to future change, I do not expect our GDPR solution will change drastically.

 

We will continue to display the country code and state field (if provided), due to the fact that it might be relevant for trademark lawyers.

The solution mentioned above is a mix of what ICANN has sent to the Art 29 WP, there is some advice incorporated from the ECO playbook. Last but not least we cherry-picked some elements from the WHOIS output solution by the Dutch Registry SIDN.

SIDN does not publish personal data of the registrants for many years now, so we have a great deal of experience with such WHOIS output and as a result, we have many operational procedures and solutions in place.

 

Reseller lookup tool
Our Reseller lookup tool is available here. We will also mention the link to this tool in the WHOIS output of the Realtime Register WHOIS server.
This tool allows people to look up the domain and the relevant reseller contact information.

As a data processor, we are limited in our role due to data protection laws, and we must refer to the data controller (our reseller) when it comes to domain name inquiries.
I think our lookup tool will be of great assistance for Law Enforcement Agencies, Trademark Lawyers, etc.

Most of our Dutch resellers will be very familiar with the above concept, as reseller data plays a significant role in the WHOIS for .NL domain names.

I expect that the WHOIS will become less relevant on May 25th and will have an effect on transfers.
Expect a blog post about the transfer details within a week.

Also, this blog describes the WHOIS server of Realtime Register, not the WHOIS servers operated by thick registries all over the world. It is possible that while we at a registrar level do not display personal data, a Thick WHOIS registry continues to show the data of your customers in their available public WHOIS…

Realtime Register GDPR TLD matrix is now public.

Last week we received a lot of positive comments regarding our GDPR TLD matrix. And we had a lot of requests to get access to the matrix.
As a push to create more GDPR awareness, we decided to publish our API on the website for the public, including the GDPR TLD matrix.

You can enter the matrix here.

Keep in mind the matrix has been developed with the Realtime Register processes in mind and in some instances cannot be merely be pasted and copied.

One comment which we received a lot last week was:”wow there are so many unknowns.”
While that observation is spot on, it is the reality we all have to deal with in the TLD industry, and it is very annoying that at this stage we still do not have clear answers.
Most registries still have to determine their position on what they will publish in the WHOIS and what not.

So feel free to use the GDPR TLD Matrix.If there is a sense amongst registrars and registries turning the GDPR TLD Matrix into a collaborative effort, feel free to contact me.

I expect to update the matrix over two weeks and add a few more categories plus more information.

Data Protection/GDPR TLD Guidance Matrix

I think this is the first blog where I start with phrases like;

  • We are not done yet
  • Guidance only
  • We are not done yet
  • By no means legal advise
  • Best effort only
  • We are not done yet

While we are not done, we are trying to get this matrix as complete as possible before May 25; we do expect that we will still be updating the matrix way beyond May 25.

Back in 2016, I was under the impression that our industry would work together and come up with solutions to make things easier when it comes to the GDPR.
However, it is April 2018, ICANN is still in chaos, the EU ccTLD registries move at a glacial pace, and the ccTLD registries outside of the EU still have to figure out what the EU GDPR is.

A few months ago we came up with the idea that we should assist our customers when it comes to the GDPR.Over a thousand registries, located all over the world in many different jurisdictions, processing personal data in ways not known to us. At the time, it was like asking the question, how do you put an elephant in a car?

The answer? Put the GDPR and all the data protection laws of the world into the metadata of our API.
https://dm.realtimeregister.com/docs/api/tlds/metadata#privacy

 

At first glance, this looks very complex and confusing, just like the GDPR itself.
When you send an info request on the metadata for the name, “gdprCategory”, it will give you four values depending on the TLD.

  • EU_BASED: Registrations are under EU jurisdiction
  • ADEQUACY: Registrations are in a jurisdiction that provides an adequate level of data protection according to the EU
  • DATA_EXPORT: Registrations are in a jurisdiction without an adequate level of data protection as outlined by the EU. Fundamental rights like the right to be forgotten or erasure do not apply
  • UNKNOWN: Situation unknown

So how does this work?
As I mentioned before we still need to complete this and things are still in motion with a lot of registries, but we can tell you a few things already based on current info and predictions, as such we came up the following suggestions.

  • Caution advised
  • Use privacy protect
  • EU based, whois exposed
  • Safe, data adequacy or EU based

GDPR Advise
Let’s start with the advice called:”Caution advised.”
And be advised these are the most complex TLD’s to register.
We know that these TLDs are outside of the EU and Article 49 is most likely to be relevant for such TLD’s.
In some cases, we do not know what will happen and how the registry in that country will treat the data of your customer.

Our advice, consult a lawyer when your customer wants to register a domain name in a TLD labeled “Caution advised.”
You do not need to worry about this when this is a company registration. Companies (legal entities) are exempt from the GDPR. Make sure you do not use any personal data for such registrations.

Use privacy protect
Rather straightforward advice. We do not know what ICANN will be doing or not. With our privacy protect service you do not have to worry about the following:

  • Consult a lawyer regarding your legal requirements to register a domain name (money saver).
  • The data will not be exported to a “third country.
  • Do you need privacy shield as a legal basis or not?
  • No need to worry about “third parties” having access to your customer’s data outside of the EU.
  • If the right to be forgotten or erasure applies or not?
  • EU GDPR data minimization requirements
  • Can the GDPR data accuracy requirements be exercised or not?
  • The need to ask consent from your customer for every possible data processing (no disruption of registration flows in your shop)

Our advice, use this service whenever you can, it will save you a lot of time and hassle.

EU based, whois exposed.
These registries are EU GDPR compliant. But some of them do expose personal data in the WHOIS. Personally, I do not like this, but there can be a few legal reasons (on a member state level) that such a practice is permitted under the GDPR.
You might want to give your customers a heads-up of such practices as their perception might be different.

Safe, data adequacy or EU based.
My personal favorite.
These TLDs are GDPR compliant and do not expose personal data through the WHOIS. Hassle free; let’s hope the rest will follow soon.

Terms of Service & Privacy notice.
As an extra service, we have included links to the relevant registration contracts and privacy notices. I am aware it is not complete at the moment, but we hope to have most of it ready, before the 25th of May.
Keep in mind, so far we have seen zero new contracts from gTLD registries. I expect that we as a registrar we will have to sign over a thousand contracts just a few weeks before the 25th of May.

So check the matrix regularly to remain up to date.

More information regarding the Realtime Register Privacy Service can be located here