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New Group Created on Domain Name Privacy

A committee of the Internet's key oversight agency agreed Wednesday to form a new working group that would examine how to offer more privacy to small businesses and people with individual Web sites.

At a meeting of the agency's Generic Names Supporting Organization Council, members opted to focus initially on a proposal known as operational point of contact.

A slight majority of a GNSO task force recommended that approach earlier this month, but left many implementation details unanswered. The new working group would be tasked with trying to fill some of those gaps.

The proposal would give domain name owners more choices in whom they list in publicly accessible databases known as Whois. Currently, they must provide their full names, organizations, postal and e-mail address and phone numbers.

Businesses and intellectual-property lawyers have expressed concerns that cybersquatters and scam artists could more easily hide their identities if domain name holders are allowed to designate a third party as an operational point of contact.

They have pushed an alternative that would require domain name holders to make all personal contact details available, as they do today, unless they can justify a special circumstance, such as running a shelter for battered women.

Although some GNSO council members wanted the new working group to consider the alternative as well, others preferred to focus on one approach and return to the alternative only if the working group couldn't sort out the implementation details.

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