NABP has joined the Coalition for a Secure and Transparent Internet (CSTI), along with other organizations, to advocate for a transparent internet that promotes safe e-commerce and prevents criminal safe havens online. CSTI advocates before United States and European Union (EU) policymakers, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), registrars, registries, and other stakeholders about the importance of open access to WHOIS data. WHOIS data provides information (ie, name, address, phone number, and email address) on domain name registrants for generic top-level domain spaces like “.com” and certain country-code domain spaces. This data on domain names shows who owns what on the internet.
In May 2018, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation took effect. ICANN has issued an interim guidance on the regulation, which has led domain name registrars and registries worldwide to restrict access to major elements of the WHOIS record. According to CSTI, blocking public access to full WHOIS directories will render the removal of illegal or malicious content and communications much more difficult and inefficient. The largest internet domain registrar in the world, GoDaddy, began restricting access to some WHOIS data in March 2018. More information about CSTI’s efforts related to consumer safety and cybersecurity can be found on its website.
The fact that WHOIS data is being largely withheld from public access, rendering website operators virtually anonymous, makes consumer safety initiatives like the .Pharmacy Verified Websites Program all the more critical. When consumers see the .pharmacy suffix at the end of a web address, they can be sure the registrant has been screened and that the site is safe, legitimate, and verified.