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Privacy and proxy services are for people and organizations who wish to keep certain information about them from being published in public WHOIS information. These services are used for different reasons, including:
- Individuals who prefer not to have their personal data published on the Internet as part of a WHOIS record.
- Organizations within a religious, political or ethnic minority, or sharing controversial moral or sexual information.
- Companies planning upcoming mergers, new product or service names, new movie names, or other product launches.
There are two general types of these services:
- A Privacy Service lists alternative, reliable contact information, like an address or phone number, in WHOIS while keeping the domain name registered to its beneficial user as the registrant.
- A Proxy Service registers the domain name itself and licenses use of the domain name to its customer. The contact information of the service provider is displayed rather than the customer’s contact information. The Proxy Service provider maintains all rights as a registrant (such as to manage, renew, transfer and delete the domain name), and assumes all responsibility for the domain name and its manner of use.
Proxy and privacy services are among the least developed of the WHOIS policy areas. Until the adoption of the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA), there were few ICANN rules or policies applicable to these types of services, which at times resulted in unpredictable outcomes for stakeholders affected by these services. The 2013 RAA includes an Interim Specification that describes a minimum set of requirements for privacy and proxy services offered by a Registrar or its affiliates. These requirements were adopted on a temporary basis (expiring on 1/1/2018), to allow for the GNSO to recommend appropriate policies to apply to the provision of these services.
ICANN is in the process of implementing an accreditation program for privacy and proxy service providers, pursuant to Final Policy Recommendations approved by the GNSO Council in January 2016 and adopted by the ICANN Board in August 2016.
More information about ICANN's plans for implementing this accreditation program, including up-to-date project timelines and key documents, is available at https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/ppsai-2016-08-18-en. If you would like to follow the work of the Implementation Review Team, recordings and documentation from its meetings are available on the community wiki, https://community.icann.org/display/IRT/Privacy+and+Proxy+Services+Accreditation+Implementation.