Inside ICANNWatch  
Submit Story
Lost Password
Site Messages
Top 10 Lists
Latest Comments
Search by topic

Our Mission
ICANN for Beginners
About Us
How To Use This Site
Slash Tech Info
Link to Us
Write to Us

  Useful ICANN sites  
  • ICANN itself
  • Bret Fausett's ICANN Blog
  • Internet Governance Project
  • UN Working Group on Internet Governance
  • Karl Auerbach web site
  • Müller-Maguhn home
  • UDRPinfo.com;
  • UDRPlaw.net;
  • CircleID;
  • LatinoamerICANN Project
  • ICB Tollfree News

  •   At Large Membership and Civil Society Participation in ICANN  
  • icannatlarge.com;
  • Noncommercial Users Constituency of ICANN
  • NAIS Project
  • ICANN At Large Study Committee Final Report
  • ICANN (non)Members page
  • ICANN Membership Election site

  • ICANN-Related Reading
    Browse ICANNWatch by Subject

    Ted Byfied
    - ICANN: Defending Our Precious Bodily Fluids
    - Ushering in Banality
    - ICANN! No U CANN't!
    - roving_reporter
    - DNS: A Short History and a Short Future

    David Farber
    - Overcoming ICANN (PFIR statement)

    A. Michael Froomkin
    - When We Say US™, We Mean It!
    - ICANN 2.0: Meet The New Boss
    - Habermas@ discourse.net: Toward a Critical Theory of Cyberspace
    - ICANN and Anti-Trust (with Mark Lemley)
    - Wrong Turn in Cyberspace: Using ICANN to Route Around the APA & the Constitution (html)
    - Form and Substance in Cyberspace
    - ICANN's "Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy"-- Causes and (Partial) Cures

    Milton Mueller
    - Ruling the Root
    - Success by Default: A New Profile of Domain Name Trademark Disputes under ICANN's UDRP
    - Dancing the Quango: ICANN as International Regulatory Regime
    - Goverments and Country Names: ICANN's Transformation into an Intergovernmental Regime
    - Competing DNS Roots: Creative Destruction or Just Plain Destruction?
    - Rough Justice: A Statistical Assessment of the UDRP
    - ICANN and Internet Governance

    David Post
    - Governing Cyberspace, or Where is James Madison When We Need Him?
    - The 'Unsettled Paradox': The Internet, the State, and the Consent of the Governed

    Jonathan Weinberg
    - Sitefinder and Internet Governance
    - ICANN, Internet Stability, and New Top Level Domains
    - Geeks and Greeks
    - ICANN and the Problem of Legitimacy

    Highlights of the ICANNWatch Archive
    (June 1999 - March 2001)

    Privacy WHOIS Contact Info Rule Stifles Political Dissent?
    posted by michael on Monday May 12 2003, @04:32AM

    As noted by Danny Younger on the GA list, FrontPageMagazine.com carries a story by "Lisa S." called Hollywood's Chill Wind of Censorship. Is this a sign that WHOIS rules enable censorship? Or is it rather a sign that they just inconvenience upopular speakers?

    The author describes how she founded a "Boycott Hollywood" web site, (origianally at boycott-hollywood.us, now at boycott-hollywood.net. This lead to a reaction by the William Morris Agency, which represents a number of the stars criticized at the boycott-hollywood web site. According to the author, rather than contact her directly using the email address at the web site, William Morris went to Dotster, her registrar, with accuations of libel and unspecified other offenses.

    In this, at least, the complaint was justified: the contact info was false. The article is a little obscure here, but it seems that it was originally accurate, leading to death threats, so "I substituted my own contact information with erroneous information until I could secure a legitimate Post Office Box." (It doesn't take that long to get a PO Box, does it?). Then Dotster got nasty:

    Dotster informed me that providing false contact information to the database violated the contract between me and Dotster, and they would be suspending my registration. They further informed me that the website would be down within 24 hours. I explained, in detail, to Dotster why I changed the contact information and I offered to correct the information immediately – as the ICANN Terms of Service does recommend allowing 15 days to rectify the matter. Nonetheless, the person I spoke with at Dotster refused to allow me the ability to correct the information and maintain ownership of the domain.
    The upshot is that the author went out and registered a bunch of alternate domain names, and the site is still up and running at one of them.

    So what's the bottom line. Is this an example of WHOIS silencing dissent, enabling corporations to crush the little guy? Or is this an example of the plasticity of the web, demonstrating that a determined person cannot be squelched?

    Seems to me it's a bit of both. The default WHOIS policy frustrates the normal expectation of at least US persons, who don't expect to be penalized for masking their identity in what seems to be an ordinary commercial transaction. Requiring folks to buy a post office box to preserve their privacy is in effect a small tax on anonymous speech (and it's not completely anonymous, as the post office requires you to identify yourself to rent a box). Dotster's policy of not letting people fix their contact info when challenged is stupid and mean if applied across the board, and simply craven if applied inconsistently to controversial speakers. But the fact remains that Lisa S. was able to register boycotthollywood.us, boycott-hollywood.net, boycott-hollywood.org and boycott-hollywood.biz, and is changing registrars too. More inconvenienced than silenced, it seems.

      ICANNWatch Login  


    [ Don't have an account yet? Please create one. It's not required, but as a registered user you can customize the site, post comments with your name, and accumulate reputation points ("karma") that will make your comments more visible. ]

      Related Links  
  • Danny Younger, former GA Chair
  • boycott-hollywood.net
  • Dotster
  • accuations
  • libel
  • unspecified other offenses
  • noted
  • Hollywood's Chill Wind of Censorship
  • More on Privacy
  • Also by michael
    This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
    WHOIS Contact Info Rule Stifles Political Dissent? | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 2 comments | Search Discussion
    Click this button to post a comment to this story
    The options below will change how the comments display
    Check box to change your default comment view
    The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • 1 reply beneath your current threshold.

  • Search ICANNWatch.org:

    Privacy Policy: We will not knowingly give out your personal data -- other than identifying your postings in the way you direct by setting your configuration options -- without a court order. All logos and trademarks in this site are property of their respective owner. The comments are property of their posters, all the rest © 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 by ICANNWatch.Org. This web site was made with Slashcode, a web portal system written in perl. Slashcode is Free Software released under the GNU/GPL license.
    You can syndicate our headlines in .rdf, .rss, or .xml. Domain registration services donated by DomainRegistry.com