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NZ’s Domain Name Commission wins appeal in lawsuit against US company

Techblog staff. 22 July 2019, 6:36 am

New Zealand's Domain Name Commission has had its court order upheld by a higher Court in its US lawsuit against the company DomainTools.

The US Court's decision prevents DomainTools from breaching .nz domain names owners privacy and publishing their personal details for anyone to see.

It is the second US Court to side with the Domain Name Commission. The first decision in favour of .nz domain names owners privacy was made in September 2018, but DomainTools immediately appealed it and lost again in the US Court of Appeals on 17 July 2019.

In 2018, the Domain Name Commission mandated that a privacy option be offered for all .nz domain name holders that are not in trade. It means people can withhold their address and phone number from publicly appearing in the online registration data search. More than 63,000 domain names have already taken up the privacy option, and the number is growing.

DomainTools is a digital intelligence-gathering company in the US. It has been scraping registration data from New Zealand's Domain Name Commission for many years. This mass collection of data breaches the Commission's terms of use and exposes details of domain name holders who choose to have their details kept private. This is because DomainTools makes available historic records which show the now withheld information.

"The decision strengthens our commitment to protect the privacy rights of .nz registrants. It sends a message to all companies dealing with registrants' personal information online to be compliant with privacy requirements", says the Domain Name Commissioner, Brent Carey.

This win is important not only to .nz domain name holders and their privacy but also for managers of other countries domain name systems who might consider starting legal action against DomainTools and other similar companies where terms of use are breached.

"We are doing our bit to balance privacy and security online by taking legal action, but the domain name industry needs to pay attention to privacy and change with the times," says Carey.


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