Can a Government force ICANN to ban some domains?
Date: Saturday August 31 2002, @04:04AM
Topic: The Big Picture

BasqueBoy writes "The Spanish Government is trying to ban a Basque Political Party, called Batasuna, whose domain is registered with Melbourne IT (Australian registrar) and their website hosted in a USA webhosting company. As these both firms are outside Spanish territory, this Government wants to force ICANN to ban '' and other related domains. Is it possible?"

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Re: Can a Government force ICANN to ban some domai
by Richard_Henderson on Saturday August 31 2002, @04:55AM (#8845)
User #3269 Info |

In the case of these websites, what law is being broken? And where? And does Spanish law have a right to tell an American organisation what to do? I don't think so!

Surely, the activities of people IN Spain (viewing the Internet, writing for websites) is an internal matter for the legal processes there.

But beyond Spain they have limited powers.

Of course, nation states choose at what level they are going to intervene in censoring online material. For example, grotesque and brutal child-porn would obviously invite intervention on its perpetrators within most countries.

But what about freedom of speech and the right to engage in political debate?

Presumably the US Government either has - or is considering - granting itself greater powers to ban websites on its systems which contravene certain criteria (specific terrorist activities for instance?). In such case, presumably the Government of another country can request the removal of a site on those grounds, should the US Government at its discretion be willing to intervene.

But it is a very dangerous area. One persons subversive is another persons freedom fighter. Would the dissidents in the old Soviet Union have been regarded as subversives or heroes?

What about Chinese dissidents today?

Would the Christians in the early Roman Empire have had their websites banned if they'd been online in those days?

Is the IRA a group of freedom fighters or are they enemies of the state?

I'm shortly planning to develop a site at to invite open dialogue about Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. I'm interested in the right of open discussion and freedom of speech : I don't seek a partisan approach either in favour of Mugabe or against him.

Personally, I favour this freedom of speech being afforded even to organisations I am opposed to.

The most dangerous precedents for the future of the Internet include the claims of governments to censor what people may or may not access, and the claims of government to access the private mail and computers of citizens who legitimately demand some privacy.

Therefore - notwithstanding the war on terror - I hope the US Govt and US courts would resist moves to "take down" these websites unless there was specific operational reference / incitement to terrorist activities.

Holding a different opinion to somebody is not, in itself, a sufficient reason to ban their freedom of speech.

As for ICANN : well, it refuses even to regulate its own registries or accredited registrars... how then, can we expect it to regulate the rest of the world!

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More news
by BasqueBoy on Saturday August 31 2002, @11:08PM (#8867)
User #3477 Info
The most important Spanish ISP company, Telefonica, is forbidding users to access ''.

The story, at this link (in Spanish).
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Re: Can a Government force ICANN to ban some domai
by fnord ( on Monday September 02 2002, @09:52AM (#8927)
User #2810 Info
A google search on batasuna returns about 79,000 hits. So do you ban google too? Well, China seems to think that's a swell idea. And China will outnumber all other internet users put together in 5 to 8 years if one believes the projections of VeriSign and others. If China then demands that ICANN or its successor block a domain, d'ya think ICANN will listen? If they don't, d'ya think China will listen to ICANN?

And I've ranted before about getting (.ca=Canada, which is where I am) even when I request returns an additional 5,000 hits for batasuna. One wonders what those using are missing. Internet balkanization is already well underway.

And using Ben Edelman's China filtertest tool, both and are reported as inaccessible. Yahoo, which according to the Reuters article, makes use of google searches, is accessible. AOL search, which is powered by google, is also presently accessible. Routing around internet balkanization is also well underway. -g

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Spaniards: what are u afraid of?
by 38size on Sunday September 08 2002, @11:22AM (#9122)
User #3486 Info
why the obsession of censuring a web page? I thought Spain was a democratic country.

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Re: Very Simple Solution In the US
by fnord ( on Monday September 02 2002, @12:36PM (#8932)
User #2810 Info
There is no surprise to that. That's in the US. This is a similar argument to that John Berryhill used against US registrars being the registrant of record for Al Qaeda, etc. Which I support so far as it goes. But it doesn't go to where they are banned from the net, they just transfer elsewhere. So then I suppose the US or whomever can pressure whatever other country their new registrar is in to also cut them off. So perhaps eventually they run out of countries. So they use an alt-root, perhaps of their own making, and become that much harder to track. And/or if they do wish an accessible public face they register and also use and et cetera and you'll never get rid of them, they'll just keep moving, spreading, making more copies of themselves, and getting better at all of this. -g
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