The Federal Communications Commission is expected to unveil a rulemaking Thursday that would force companies to disclose how much the government collects on their websites, giving regulators an opportunity to crack down harder on the practice.
The rule, the first of its kind, is part of a push by the Federal Trade Commission to address the growing use of domain names for the Internet’s growing number of services.
The agency is expected take up the issue of domain name registration later this month.
The Federal Trade Commissions office said the rule would require registrars to disclose to consumers and the public “any fees or charges that are collected, or are expected to be collected, by the recipient, its agent, or any entity that performs domain name services.”
It would also require registrants to disclose information about the “terms and conditions” they offer to consumers, such as how long the registrar is “authorized” to use a domain name and “the duration of the term of the domain name.”
In a statement Thursday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the agency was “making a concerted effort to crackdown on the use of fraudulent domain name registrations” and that the agency would make “significant changes to the way we enforce the rules and ensure consumers’ privacy is protected.”
“The FCC’s actions will prevent fraudulent domain names from being used by companies like Google and Facebook to evade the rules, and will also protect the public from the threat of massive online data breaches,” Pai said.
He added that the FCC would review the proposed rule, and make recommendations on how to enforce the privacy rules to ensure that the rules are being followed in a way that protects consumers.
The FCC is expected file a rule Wednesday that would give regulators more power to regulate the online services companies like Facebook and Google offer to the public.
While many websites have been reluctant to give up their domain names in the name of privacy and free speech, other companies are increasingly offering their services under a “hosting” agreement that gives them the right to charge for access to their customers.
For example, Google’s “hosted” domain name service allows users to search and browse the web without the need for a paid browser.
The company’s parent company Alphabet is also known for hosting its own web pages, such like YouTube.
The FTC is seeking to get a similar deal with other companies.
A spokesperson for the FCC said that the commission is “working with industry partners” to create a rule that will “help protect consumers from deceptive or unfair domain name practices.”
The FTC’s website says that “the FTC will aggressively enforce the law against domain name registraries that fail to comply with its consumer protection obligations, including by requiring them to disclose the fees they collect, the length of their term of a domain and any fees or other charges that they charge for domain name access.”