The New Zealand Domain Name Commission is taking legal action in Seattle against DomainTools.
The filing goes into a lot of detail about how the New Zealand country code operator has developed its whois policy over the years and how they consulted with the New Zealand internet community to make changes in the last few years. (Disclosure: I also made submissions during their consultation) In short registrants of .nz domain names have been given assurances about how their data would be handled and Domain Tools’ services breached those rules and collected and processed domain name registration details without the registrants consent or that of the registry:
DomainTools’s activities undermine the protections that DNCL promises to provide to .nz registrants and violate the TOU governing use of the .nz WHOIS service. The products and services that DomainTools offers to its customers are built on practices that infringe .nz registrants’ privacy rights and expectations by harvesting their registration information in bulk from the registry where it is maintained; using high-volume queries and technical measures designed to evade the restrictions that protect .nz WHOIS servers against that form of abuse; and storing and retaining registrant data, including detailed personal contact information, even after the registrant has chosen to withhold their data from the registry. These activities cause irreparable harm to DNCL’s reputation and integrity, divert resources from DNCL’s mission, interfere with its contractual relationships with .nz domain name registrars, and harm the goodwill DNCL receives from individual registrants of .nz domain names.
Interestingly the Domain Name Commission is being represented by Perkins Coie, who have been advocating for open whois access and against privacy for many years.
It’s unlikely that this is the last case of its kind that we will see.