Paragraph 4(j) of the UDRP grants panels a discretion to redact portions of their decision for the purposes of publishing the decision online. Parties can request in their submissions that the discretion be used to redact names or any other personal information from the decision which may have been relevant to the dispute.
In the recent case of O-I Glass, Inc. / Owens-Illinois General, Inc. v. John Doe the Complainant requested to have the Respondent’s name redacted on the basis that the Respondent was a victim of identity theft. Meaning that although it was listed as the registrant of the disputed domain name on the WHOIS registry, it was not, as it were, the actual registrant. In considering a request for redactions of any kind to be made, the panel will consider whether circumstances give rise to an “exceptional case” warranting the redactions. This is because paragraph 16(b) of the ICANN Rules requires that unless there is an exceptional circumstance, decisions are to be published online in full.
In O-I Glass v John Doe, the Complainant submitted evidence showing that the true registrant of the domain name, meaning the person who had effected the registration, had stolen another person’s identity and put that person’s name down as the registrant. It also came to light that the true registrant had configured the domain name to conduct email fraud and be used for other nefarious purposes, which is possibly the reason for concealing their true identity. This gave rise to a sufficiently exceptional circumstance and the request for redactions was granted.
It is important to keep in mind that the power to make redactions is a broad discretionary power. There is no clear or exhaustive list of “exceptional cases” in which redactions will be made but given the strong policy preference that ICANN has for publication of full decisions, the bar is set high with respect to the evidence that parties will need to provide if requesting redactions.