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Breaking The Law: Sued For Using Public WHOIS Search

By David Cawley | 1 minute read

I can’t believe I’m about to do this but here goes ….

What’s the big deal you’re wondering? Well, I just published some Network Solutions whois information related to the domain. In this case the domain I chose was arbitrary but it’s common practice for Anti-Spam researchers to investigate suspected spammers whois details to try and correlate domains to the same spammer. The whois records are open to the public so you wouldn’t think it would be such a big deal to put them on a website. However, a court in North Dakota considers “publication of whois lookups without authorization from Network Solutions” to be an unauthorized activity.

Spam fighter David Ritz investigated a suspected spammer by using typical tools. He was sued by this person and the judge’s finding documents are available here (sorry – broken link as of October 2013). I’m shocked by the decision but I guess it comes down to a lack of understanding of the interweb and it’s complex network of pipes.

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