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    Highlights of the ICANNWatch Archive
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    Privacy A Congressional Vote of No Confidence for ICANN
    posted by michael on Thursday February 05 2004, @08:07AM

    Kathryn Kleiman writes "Yesterday the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, Internet and Intellectual Property handed down a terrible new bill. Couched in language of US Trademark law, the bill if adopted would have sweeping effects on the way WHOIS data is handled worldwide.

    The bill is a huge vote of no confidence for ICANN. I find Congress' timing puzzling because ICANN is doing exactly what the Subcommittee and and the Department of Commerce told them to do(!): work hard to find a solution to the problem of inaccuracy in the WHOIS databases. With 3 GNSO Task Forces (TFs) created at ICANN's last meeting and running concurrently as we speak, never before have so many people in the ICANN community spent so much energy on a single issue. WHOIS is definitely a key priority of ICANN right now."

    "So it comes as a surprise that the Copyright Coalition's witness Mark Bohannon yesterday sat at the witness table and agreed with the other witnesses that ICANN was doing little or nothing to address the problem. Sitting right behind him was Steve Metalitz, Counsel to the Copyright Coalition, who is a member of GNSO WHOIS Task Force 2, and spends no less than an hour a week on a TF conference call (and more on email) examining and debating the WHOIS privacy vs. accuracy issues.

    For coverage of the bill and hearing, check out the National Journal's Feb 4 PM Edition (still posted as I write this) at http://nationaljournal.com/pubs/techdaily/, under "New bill targets online fraudsters." My quote is at the end:
    "The subcommittee is bypassing the best way to improve accuracy in the databases, which is the creation of basic privacy protections," said Kathy Kleiman, an attorney at McLeod, Watkinson and Miller, and co-founder of ICANN's non-commercial constituency. "The legislation chills free speech, particularly online speech critical of corporations [using trademarks], and denigrates ICANN's current and extensive efforts in the Whois area."
    Kathy Kleiman
    Noncommercial Constituency's Representative to GNSO WHOIS Task Force 2 on WHOIS Data Elements."

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    · ICANN
    · http://nationaljournal.com/pub s/techdaily/
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    · Also by michael
    This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
    A Congressional Vote of No Confidence for ICANN | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 29 comments | Search Discussion
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    Kudos to Steve Metalitz
    by GeorgeK on Thursday February 05 2004, @07:47PM (#12932)
    User #3191 Info | http://www.kirikos.com/
    Great work, getting the WHOIS accuracy issue in the spotlight. We've seen this issue debated on mailing lists for ages, and I'm happy to see things go this way. It encourages responsible behaviour having the ownership data in plain view.

    If someone valued their "privacy" at infinity, they can and should rationally spend the extra $4 or so for a "Domains by Proxy" type solution that GoDaddy and others offer. Someone who doesn't want to go for that solution is telling the world that they value their privacy at below $4, and thus can't argue in good faith that it's a major issue to them. Having anonymous/fake WHOIS shifts the legal burdens and costs to victims, and away from the abusers.

    If the benefits of private/anonymous registrations are so enormous, reducing those benefits by $4 won't hurt the registrants overall.
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    by yggdrazil on Friday February 06 2004, @05:55AM (#12938)
    User #3293 Info
    The .dk registry, DK Hostmaster, sends a letter by postal mail to the legal contact of each and every new .dk domain name, containing a PIN number that has to be entered at their web site in order to activate the domain.

    Alas, domains with bogus postal addresses don't get activated anymore under .dk
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
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    More FOISA coverage
    by fnord ({groy2k} {at} {yahoo.com}) on Monday February 09 2004, @07:26AM (#12958)
    User #2810 Info
    From WiReD [wired.com], and Declan McCullagh has, not surprisingly, the best coverage yet on CNET [com.com].-g
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    • 1 reply beneath your current threshold.
    More on FOISA
    by fnord ({groy2k} {at} {yahoo.com}) on Wednesday February 11 2004, @11:45PM (#12968)
    User #2810 Info
    Rod Dixon opines at CircleID [circleid.com]. He doesn't like FOISA much either.

    Note to Editors, how about adding CircleID (which speaks XML) to the right column? -g

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Re: whois accuracy, US House Subcommittee
    by fnord ({groy2k} {at} {yahoo.com}) on Thursday February 05 2004, @06:04PM (#12931)
    User #2810 Info
    You are mixing apples and oranges (as are the US Congress and ICANN, so at least you're in * company). WHOIS goes back to when it was critical to have offline or alternative online access to a node if it failed. Currently if my-kewl-widgets.com goes dark it matters not a whit to anyone but me and my customers. Even by the most conservative estimate a large majority of registered domain names essentially lead to dead-ends insofar as the functioning of the DNS (which is perhaps ICANN's proper perview, and certainly not that of the USG) is concerned.

    If you want to buy widgets from me and want to ensure that I am who I say I am, WHOIS is not the way to do it. I can enter the same information there that I publish on my website and it will be equally accurate, or false. You would be better off to see what contact info is on my site and then check it via various free online yellow pages. That could be fake too, but at least I had the decency to actually purchase a real phone number, and you can actually try to phone it.

    If I really want to sell widgets and be trusted I can get a MicroSoft or similar Certificate for my site, I can otherwise attempt to prove my identity via various means, or I will lose your business to amazon.com whom you presumably trust, and whom has no doubt by now started selling widgets alongside their garden furniture (JUST IN: neon watering gnomes).

    I've sold all manner of things (sorry, widgets are on backorder) online for more than a decade accepting all major credit cards (and should you be waylaid most all of them indemnify you 100% financially against online fraud, and I'll lose my merchant account, so don't sweat the small stuff) and I don't use accurate WHOIS info. I have never had a sense that this has hurt me financially and I doubt the current bill will make any dent in that whatsoever. BTW, the UK has quite consistently been my third largest source of customers, I can give you a Bank of England account number for deposit should you wish to pay by that method, and I still don't have a VAT number.

    Using WHOIS as a commercial identity verification system is putting a square peg into a round hole and even the USG doesn't have that big of a hammer (never mind that they're trying to crush a flea).

    And please explain how Rick Wesson and other registrars are going to do all this verification for nothing. They just want to sell anonymizers (no doubt soon to be available at amazon.com). -g

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Re: whois accuracy, US House Subcommittee
    by KarlAuerbach on Friday February 06 2004, @03:20PM (#12946)
    User #3243 Info | http://www.cavebear.com/
    As a consumer I too try to avoid network based vendors who do not adequately reveal their contact information.

    That revealation ought to be, however, a voluntary act by the vendor, not something forced upon it (and every other domain name purchasor.)

    While I thought that Rick's testimony could have used at least one more proofreading, I am personally quite familiar with the rush and pressure under which those kinds of things are written.

    As far as Rick's product ideas go - Were I a vendor of products on the net (and let's assume that I'm a good vendor who has published my own contact information), it does seem to me to be "a good thing" to have tools that check up on those to whom I am granting credit. (And yes, by accepting a credit card I am granting credit - the banks require that I put my own assets on the line to cover many aspects of bad transactions.)
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Re:Why is this debate happening?
    by fnord ({groy2k} {at} {yahoo.com}) on Friday February 06 2004, @05:23PM (#12947)
    User #2810 Info

    Read the rest of this comment...

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Re: whois accuracy, US House Subcommittee
    by Mueller (muellerNO@SPAMsyr.edu) on Saturday February 07 2004, @11:40AM (#12950)
    User #2901 Info | http://istweb.syr.edu/~mueller/

    This comment is confused. Identification information can be put up by businesses, and it can even be required by law, as it already is in some jurisidctions. But that is a requirement that applies to BUSINESSES, and the contact information can be on the WEBSITE, not WHOIS. Not all registrants of domain names are businesses. Not all are even operators of web sites.
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
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