From Wired News, available online at: http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,38014,00.html Registrar Sues for Whois Spam by Joanna Glasner 4:00 p.m. Aug. 3, 2000 PDT In a dispute that could test the legal limits for how of personal information stored on publicly available websites is used, a domain name registrar has filed suit against a firm it claims illegally used its customer contact information in an aggressive marketing campaign of unsolicited email and phone calls. Register.com, a New York company that registers Internet domain names, filed suit this week against Verio Inc., a Colorado website developer and hosting firm, charging that the company engaged in "unauthorized commercial use of Register.com's Whois database." The suit, filed in New York federal court, charges that Verio did not comply with the rules that registrar.com and other Internet registrars set for using its Whois database -- a website that lists phone numbers, email addresses, and other information about the owners of domain names. Instead of simply getting information about particular sites -- which is generally allowed -- Register.com says Verio compiled massive lists of new customers and deluged them with unsolicited marketing messages. "In this particular case, the reason we're taking legal action is we found it to be a widespread and systematic abuse of the Whois," said Register.com spokeswoman Shonna Keogan. Register.com began receiving customer complaints in early January, alleging that Verio was soliciting their customers at both their homes and at work. Register.com officials said they were particularly concerned because Verio made reference in its sales pitches to the fact that its prospective new clients had just signed up domain names at register.com. "We have made repeated overtures to Verio to resolve this matter amicably -- highlighting numerous complaints we've received from both our customers and our partners. Since Verio has chosen to ignore our requests, we have no alternative than to take legal action in order to protect our customers from these invasive practices," said Richard Forman, president and CEO of Register.com, in a statement announcing the suit. The suit seeks a court order forcing Verio to stop marketing to Register.com customers using contact information in the Whois database. Officials at Verio could not be reached for comment. Copyright 1994-2000 Wired Digital Inc. All rights reserved.