[NA-Discuss] Proxy-Privacy Use Higher for Illicit Domains

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Fri Mar 11 05:27:34 UTC 2011

On 10 March 2011 20:29, John R. Levine <johnl at iecc.com> wrote:

> > I mean the comment made in the email.
> It would be nice if someday the ALAC could get beyond the conceit that the
> Internet is run for the convenience of vanity domain holders.

I don't think that conceit is universally shared.

Many people who have gravitated into a policy intrerest in ICANN have done
so because they're at least familar with the concept of domain name
ownership. That means, in the most cases, they've either helped people get
domains or they own a few themselves. Myself, I administer a "stable" of
about a dozen on behalf of friends, family and a client or two. (At least a
few of them, I guess, could be called "vanity" domains, but that's because
of the present rules of the game. Better me than a speculator.)

That's where things were at the beginning. I like to think that outreach
activities -- that have brought in ALSs like my own that normally have zero
to do with Internet governance and whose members by and large are not domain
owners -- are starting to work. It's a reason why the ALS model is
preferable to the romantic direct-election model which guaranteed a process
of insiders voting for insiders.

Right now, ICANN loves to talk about "consumer choice". Most of this is just
horsecrap because it means nothing. Right now it's not even known if ICANN's
idea of "consumer" is the domain buyer (the bottom of ICANN's particular
food chain) or the Internet user who "consumes" Internet information that
may be found by domain name, IP address, search result or a link from
somewhere else. As long as this distinction continues to be muddy, the
platitudes will continue because they're worthless. Even so, ICANN tends to
talk about consumer issues with the vocabulary of the supplier, not the
consumer. (Personally, I don;t even like the term "consumer" in this context
because it implies that Internet use requires a financial transaction. End
users do not exist on the Internet merely to consume things...)

One of my own personal goals next week in San Francisco is to bring some
clarity to this, because the ICANN-related needs of end users are very
different from those of registrants. On a number of issues, end-users and
registrants have common ground, but one of ICANN's dirty little secrets is
that the two groups in some cases have very different agendas. The biggest
example of this is in WHOIS, where (generally) registrants want privacy and
end-users want accountability. (Painting this as a law-enforcement issue is
also horsecrap IMO). Another issue -- litttle spoken of -- is the issue of
domaining, which does nothing for the public good, adds zero value, does not
benefit the flow or quality of information on the Internet, has needlessly
increased the cost of having an Internet presence, but is heavily defended
by domain speculators (and tacitly backed by ICANN which has a vested
interest in its maintenance).

These gaps in agenda, IMO need to get clearer ... and I think they will. At
a certain point, people who claim to speak in the public interest but also
own domains, if they are honest about it, are going to find themselves
conflicted. (I believe) I've already come to grips with mine.

- Evan

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