Tech companies push back against internet watchdog's new privacy rules

Tech companies push back against internet watchdog's new privacy rules
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Tech companies are pushing back on plans by the organization that oversees internet domain names to strengthen privacy standards.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is considering limiting access to the information it collects when someone registers a website. Under the change, only basic information about a website would be shared, like its location.

But the U.S. government and American technology companies say those rules will make it harder for them to crack down on malicious actors on their platforms.

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Currently, names, addresses and contact information for those who register a website can be accessed publicly in many cases. Law enforcement often uses this information to track down suspected criminals.

The change is being made to adhere to new European Union regulations, set to take effect on May 25. Failing to follow those new rules could lead to hefty penalties.

A group of technology companies, including Facebook, Microsoft and Time Warner sent a letter to ICANN this week asking it to quickly create a system to accredit investigators to obtain information about bad actors on the internet.

During a speech earlier in the week, National Telecommunications and Information Administration chief David Redl cautioned against the change.

“[T]he United States will not accept a situation in which Whois information is not available or is so difficult to gain access to that it becomes useless for the legitimate purposes that are critical to the ongoing stability and security of the internet,” Redl said, according to the Journal.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the letter Thursday.

Updated: 7:15 p.m.