Tucows tables a pro-privacy proposal
Date: Wednesday April 11 2001, @08:27PM
Topic: Privacy

In a 4 April message to miscellaneous ICANN hierophants -- the board, some staff, some Names Council members, and the Registrars constituency list -- Tucows rep Timothy Denton followed up on Tucows' pro-privacy initiative at the March 2001 meeting...

Attached to Denton's email was "an open letter regarding Registrant privacy" (in PDF form here) arguing that the ICANN Registrars' Accreditation Agreement (RAR) should be amended in two ways. First, registrant information should be private unless the registrant affirmatively chooses to make his/her info available for "bulk access," i.e., third-party mass marketing; and second, the RAR's current limitations on email marketing should be extended to cover all forms of mass solicitation.

Sadly, though perhaps sagely, Denton makes it clear that these changes would "not affect the right of" -- note the order here -- "IP holders and law enforcement to ascertain the owner, and reach the administrative and technical contacts." This isn't terribly surprising, in light of, say, a remark allegedly made by Michael Palage, co-chair of Working Group B ("famous trademarks"), in a 6 January 2000 roundtable hosted by the US Small Business Administration: "The trademark lobby must be placated because of its potential ability and inclination to bankrupt new registrars and wreck havoc on their registrant databases." But it's frustrating nevertheless: the transformation of registration data from a practical networking necessity into into a surveillance tool for "IP" zealots, consequences be damned en masse, is in many ways the quintessence of what ICANN is all about.

Be that as it may, the Tucows proposal is an excellent start. Unfortunately, it hasn't elicited any responses on the Registrars mailing list (archives here).

How ICANN will respond to the Tucows initiative is anyone's guess, as they say. Among his suggested requirements for a consensus policy, Denton lists "appropriate supporting documents recording the debate and outreach efforts within and without the DNSO" -- exactly the kind of stuff that ICANN specializes in sidestepping and circumlocuting.

Given ICANN VP Louis Touton's comical lack of candor with regard to the Whois Committee (documented here and here), it seems unlikely that some pesky bottom-up policy will be met with open arms. How much less likely any changes to the RAR that might in some way impinge on the power of the MPAA and the RIAA -- two of the three non-registrar/registry members of the Whois Committee -- to spam out nastygrams to hundreds or even thousands (or even hundreds of thousands :) of John Does.

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Re: Tucows tables a pro-privacy proposal
by michael (froomkin@lawUNSPAM.tm) on Thursday April 12 2001, @02:23AM (#517)
User #4 Info | http://www.discourse.net/
I agree that the Tucows proposal is a better, albeit far from best, policy, compared to what we have. But I think we'd all be better off if ICANN were to define the minimum amount of whois information necessary for the techncial functioning of the internet -- which I take to be a techncial contact and no more. ICANN should then require that minimum and no more. Everything else is social policy and should be decided by national authorities or their delegates (e.g. the EU in the case of european registries).
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