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

    This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
    ICANN Rips VeriSign Over Whois Violations | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 70 comments | Search Discussion
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    Re: You are wrong
    by Anonymous on Monday September 09 2002, @01:18PM (#9131)
    You can say anything you like in private. When you set up a publishing concern, such as a magazine or web site, you're often required to identify yourself, because what you publish could massively affect other people. A newspaper may publish anonymous accounts, but the publisher is not anonymous, and may be held accountable.

    Domain names are used to publish on the web. The very nature of publication is that it is communication to the public. There is a generally accepted need for parties about whom material is published to have some minimal knowledge of who is publishing the material. The DMCA indemnifies ISPs from publication torts. If there is no accountability for whois data, then you get a situation where libel, defamation, harassment and invasion of privacy are happening, but you cannot find anyone to hold accountable. Although Congress envisioned ISPs having strong takedown policies, ISPs are using their DMCA indemnification from publication torts as a "license to libel," and becoming the de facto publishers of scurrilous material which no non-indemnified publisher would touch with a ten foot pole.

    Therefore, any steps which ICANN takes toward accuracy in whois data will help people being stalked and victimized by anonymous web publishers of scurrilous material.

    The thing is, we also need some kind of freeze on transfers during the 15-day correction period. Otherwise when scofflaws receive notice that they must correct their data with Registrar A, they can simply transfer to Registrar B, and so on. I believe this is going on.

    The libel laws and similar laws don't just protect mega corporations, they also protect small non-profit organizations and relatively powerless individual humans from harassment by vicious sociopaths. I know of at least one entry on Touton's list of 17 domains which has been a source of considerable emotional pain within one small community. The registant is anonymous and the ISP is indemnified by the DMCA, so it's like daily torture when a sadist publishes scurrilous material.

    Arbitration proceedings are of limited effectiveness because, although they are cheaper than court actions, their scope is extemely limited. You can plunk down $1500 to take away one domain registered in bad faith, but the day after the decision in your favor, the same person can register a variant on the same domain for under $10. It takes a court action to get a permanent injunction, but an injunction against John Doe isn't going to do you much good. You need to be able to identify the person publishing the material.

    A person who is concerned about privacy can have a responsible third party register for them. But when people cannot find anyone willing to front for the kind of material they want to publish, it's often because that material is NOT protected speech, but is rather speech of a type which is libelous, harassing, etc.

    Publishing on the web is not a private act, and therefore not all rights which apply to private conduct apply to web publishing. The dissemination of material to the public en masse is governed by rules which hold the publisher to certain minimal standards, one of which may be to identify himself. The imposition of this minimal standard on web publishing does not significantly abridge people's basic rights to self-expression, it merely balances those rights with the rights of other parties who may be adversely affected by the material published.

    MIchael Howard
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Re: You are wrong by Anonymous

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