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Fate of WHOIS search tools in conflict with new EU data protection regulation

Motherboard: “In May, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will officially go into effect. The GDPR is ostensibly a law to protect the privacy of European citizens when it comes to how internet megacorporations like Google and Facebook handle their data. But the privacy regulations also come with some secondary effects whose influence extends far beyond the borders of the EU and ironically may actually serve to undermine the security of internet users, rather than protect them. Case in point is the fate of WHOIS, a protocol for looking up the names and contact information for people who have registered a website domain name that dates back to the 80s.There are a number of free WHOIS search tools on the internet, and unless the owner of that website has opted to mask their information, anyone can look up the name, address, email and phone number of the registrant. There are also more sophisticated WHOIS tools that operate for a fee. This protocol is an invaluable resource for security researchers, journalists, and law enforcement officers who use it to track the dissemination of information or malware on the internet. On the other hand, it has historically been treated like a goldmine for spammers and hackers, who are able to scrape the information from WHOIS databases to push junk, dox, or otherwise target registered users. This has led to a proliferation of WHOIS masking services, often provided by domain registrars themselves for a small fee…”

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