Chilean Supreme Court Orders NIC Chile To Release Domain Registrant Data, But Plaintiff Withdraws Request After Registrant Outcry: UPDATED

In late October the Supreme Court of Santiago rule in favour of a freedom of information (FOI) request demanding a listing of .cl domain names and their renewal dates. However on Friday the University of Chile advised the lawyer had withdrawn his request.

The Supreme Court, Chile’s highest court, dismissed NIC Chile’s arguments that the information is confidential and strategic, as well as of having economic value and can be used even for criminal purposes.

In their statement after the ruling, NIC Chile said they disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision and “regret that it prevents us from fulfilling the commitment made to those who register domain names under . CL, which deliver the data requested by NIC Chile understanding that they would be used exclusively for purposes related to the administration of the domain name system.”

NIC Chile said they’re convinced “the mass delivery of domain names to an individual can lead to significant cybersecurity risks of various kinds, both in accessing information that could be made from such domain names, and the possibility that attacks on servers, phishing, spam or others could be facilitated by having such a list. At a time when cybersecurity threats are on the rise, it seems to us a profound mistake to deliver this list to anyone who asks for it, without even asking that you sign a commitment of good use.”

“This vision is consistent with a significant number of domain name managers around the world, who have shared NIC Chile’s fears about the delivery of the domain name listing.”

Likewise, we understand that the delivery of the data affects commercial and economic rights of .cl domain registrants, for which a legal reservation basis is considered to be the case justifying the refusal of IASC Chile.

But in their ruling the Supreme Court argued that the data is already public in nature, albeit individually, and is available through the university’s mechanisms. The difference is that the CPLT requests that they all be delivered in a single file, with no more information than the name of each domain.

This situation was analysed extensively by members of the NGO Digital Rights, which has already indicated on social networks that people can refuse to hand over this information by invoking Article 21(2) due to privacy concerns.

Then in November 2019 there was a separate request by Jorge Delgado requesting the .cl ccTLD registry hand over registrant details. Subsequently, NIC Chile asked the almost 600,000 registrants by email whether they supported delivering the registrant data or not.

The email read ‘NIC Chile has received a request for information under the Law on Access to Public Information (No. 20,285), presented by Mr. Jorge Delgado, by which we are asked to deliver: ‘A list of all domain names purchased through the portal and currently in force. I don’t need any private data, only domain names in Excel format, with their expiration date’.

But hours later, NIC Chile forwarded another email saying Delgado had cancelled his request. Nic Chile said the request had been cancelled following .cl registrants exercising their legal right to object to the delivery of the information.

NIC Chile went on to say that they anticipate future requests for access to domain registrant information and they will be forwarding similar requests when they arrive, apologising in advance for any inconvenience.

NIC Chile went on to say they ‘wish to reiterate that they will use all legal means at their disposal to avoid this and any other bulk delivery of data from the registered domains.”

The above information was taken from online translations of a variety of news reports and statements on the NIC Chile website, all originally in Spanish.

Note: this article was updated to reflect the Supreme Court decision related to an FOI request for access to the .cl domain registrant database in September 2018 and that the request by Jorge Delgado, now withdrawn, was a separate request made in November 2019 and was not, as the original article said, the reason for the request that led to the Supreme Court decision as was advised here.