Brussels, 13 September 2023 – CENTR, the association of European national top-level domain name registries (ccTLDs), publishes a set of recommendations to amend the EU insolvency proposal, noting the high burden it places on ccTLDs in requests regarding domain name holders’ data.
ccTLDs are responsible for operating and maintaining the technical Domain Name System (DNS) infrastructure and manage a domain name registration database, commonly understood as the “phone book of the internet”, containing information on domain name holders.
The insolvency proposal seeks to facilitate the tracing of assets in cross-border insolvency cases, including by consulting "national assets registers", such as ccTLDs’ databases. In its current form the proposal will fail to achieve the public policy goals as it is both ineffective and it disproportionally places the burden on internet infrastructure providers. In order to increase effectiveness and reduce the burden on ccTLDs, CENTR suggests that first, insolvency practitioners should consult bank account and beneficial ownership information registers, and only then, approach ccTLD registries for additional information if necessary.
CENTR calls for policymakers to take into account the essential nature of ccTLD registries for the functioning of digital society and highlights their primary role as technical infrastructure. CENTR identifies parts of the proposal that particularly impact ccTLDs and puts forward recommendations to:
- Establish a clear hierarchy between the different methods of tracing assets: ccTLD registries should only be approached when other avenues have been exhausted;
- Extend the current data protection safeguards, as well as respect existing national rules on access to national assets registries;
- Require human review of each data access request to non-public information;
- Ease the burden of verifying insolvency practitioners by making the use and maintenance of the European e-Justice Portal mandatory for member states.
“Our goal is to ensure that the insolvency proposal respects the authoritative nature of ccTLD registries’ databases,” said Polina Malaja, Policy Director at CENTR. “Country code top-level domain registries are essential for the functioning of digital society, and the insolvency proposal should recognise their primary role as technical infrastructure and avoid placing unnecessary data access requirements on them. If improved, the European Commission’s proposal can help maintain the essential functioning of the DNS,” Malaja concluded.