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Friday, 14 June, 2002, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Privacy worries fuel domain name concerns
Brass door knocker, Eyewire
Some fear the changes will bring unwanted callers
Web users are worried that changes to a list of who owns which .co.uk web domain will put their personal privacy at risk.

Later this year, Nominet, which runs the .uk domain, is planning to expand the amount of personal information people can find out about owners of these domains.

Some fear the changes will put them at risk of identity theft and endanger the people they run sites for.

Nominet said it was still discussing the best way to makes changes to its database and that most other registries already supplied far more information about domain holders than it was planning to do.

Web worry

Every web domain, such as .com or .uk, has an allied database that lets people look up the owner of a particular site.

Before now, Nominet's database has only returned basic information about an owner such as their name, when the name was registered and the servers hosting it.


The more information we supply someone with the more chance that something like identity theft will happen

Colin Clarke, Nominet-No
Later this year, Nominet is planning to expand the information returned by this database to include the name and address of a domain owner.

Nominet says the change is needed to bring it in line with other registries and to make it easier to contact and identify domain holders in the event of disputes.

But the proposed changes have worried some people who fear that the change could erode their personal privacy.

One worried web user, Colin Clarke, has set up the Nominet-No website to protest about the changes.

Mr Clarke said the changes could put many domain owners, and the people they run sites for, at risk.

He said in other countries some criminals have used the information in "whois" databases for other domains to carry out identity theft, fraud and even to steal control of a popular domain.

"The more information we supply someone with, the more chance that something like identity theft will happen," he told BBC News Online.

Contact point

Lesley Cowley, managing director of Nominet, said the changes would not expose personal addresses because the vast majority of the .co.uk domains were owned by companies rather than individuals.

She said that the address in the Nominet database did not have to be a home address. Many net service providers were happy to forward mail to customers and act as a contact point for domain information, she added.

Although the changes to the Nominet database were going to be made, Mrs Cowley said the company had not made a final decision on how they would be introduced.

"We are looking into alternatives that will solve the problem," she said.

See also:

15 Jan 02 | Science/Nature
29 Nov 01 | Science/Nature
11 Jan 02 | Science/Nature
15 Mar 02 | Science/Nature
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