[At-Large] Impressions from the Whois-Review

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Mon Jan 31 20:56:43 UTC 2011

At the risk of getting too far out of my league (I don't get to do policy
work professionally), here are my CAD$0.02:

On 31 January 2011 12:55, Avri Doria <avri at acm.org> wrote:

> At-Large seems to care far more about the Law Enforcement point of view
> than it has  cared about the Privacy point of view.

I guess I'd frame it differently, because I don't consider this a law
enforcement issue. It's only become that way because privacy advocates want
to obfuscate domain ownership (using proxies, etc) in such a way that would
require intervention through law-enforcement methods (ie, court orders).

If I had my way, WHOIS records would be sufficiently accurate and complete
so that any end-user could locate a registrant WITHOUT the need for
law-enforcement intervention. If anything, I'm trying to eliminate the legal
system from the path between registrant and end-user by eliminating the
levels of obfuscation that require it. I don't want the police having any
more access than I would have as an individual -- that is, I want all of us
to have equally accurate contact information for registrants.

So .. rather than advocating "law and order" (which is generally a euphamism
for pro-law-enforcement) I'd say that I'm advancing this as a position of
justice -- one that allows end-users to identify the registrants that may be
using their domain to spread lies, fraud, obscenities and misrepresentations
-- some (but not all) of which may be illegal.

I don't know of any jurisdiction in which a collective legal entity
(for-profit corporation, non-profit organization, unincorporated business
name) can be registered without a requirement for completeness and accuracy
of its registration information. I find it frankly baffling that there are
those who condone subversion of the intent of WHOIS, for I don't even
consider this a freedom-of-speech issue. One can have a finely anonymous
voice on the Internet without needing one's own domain name. At least I
would ask for some honesty, in that obfuscation advocates should argue for
the elimination of WHOIS rather than its survival with knowingly (or worse,
approvingly) unstable data.

I have felt an ever increasing Law and Order posture in At-Large over the
> last years.  Those arguing for Privacy are definitely in the minority.

You've badly mis-characterized the 'posture', which IMO defends privacy at
the individual level but does not extent it as a right to disembodied
registrants. This position rejects the notion that personal domain ownership
is a mandatory prerequisite of free speech. And it's not a "law and order"
stance for reasons described above.

However, you've accurately identified the trend, which indicates that
At-Large is now (finally!) starting to reflect the reality that most of the
world's Internet end-users are not registrants. In this context, the
end-user's desire for registrant responsibility runs counter to (and, within
At-Large, trumps) the registrant's appeal to "privacy" as a dodge from said

Just my personal opinion,

- Evan

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