The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) is implementing changes to the dot-ca WHOIS search tool, effective June 10, 2008.

The WHOIS search tool is used to find contact information for domain-name owners. Currently, these searches provide information such as name, address, phone and fax numbers, and email address of the registrant. Recently, concerns over privacy have caused CIRA to re-evaluate the type of information that should be publicly available in the .ca WHOIS database.

CIRA has decided that it will block the display of personal information of private individuals who are domain-name holders (unless the individual consents to having it disclosed), while continuing to allow access to information pertaining to corporations, organizations, and institutions. Certain corporate information may be protected in special circumstances.

The WHOIS search was an invaluable tool to facilitate the identification of domain-name holders that may have been considered to be “cybersquatters.” The new WHOIS Policy may make it more difficult for an individual or organization to prove that a domain was registered by another party in bad faith. In recognition of this problem, CIRA proposed a workaround, which it hopes will maintain maximum privacy protection while ensuring the effectiveness of the CIRA dispute resolution policy: an electronic process for passing correspondence from interested parties to registrants.

So, as of June 10, 2008, if you are interested in contacting a .ca domain-name holder, but can no longer access contact information through the WHOIS search, you can use CIRA’s message delivery form to try to make contact with the registrant. It will be interesting to see how well the process works.