[At-Large] [WHOIS-WG] Fwd: WHOIS Policy Review Team Final Report

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Thu May 17 08:41:51 UTC 2012

On 17 May 2012 03:19, Avri Doria <avri at acm.org> wrote:

> First many people do require registration to get a place that allows them
> to speak.

In the absence of evidence I consider this core assumption to be utterly
baseless, while contrary evidence (that people are able to speak without
registration) exists in abundance.

I'm part of projects that are enabling people to speak anonymously from
refugee camps using SMS messages sent from cellphones with SIM cards paid
in cash. We're working on a mechanism to turn those SMS messages into blog
postings automatically injected into a Drupal site. No new domains needed.
And while some may find it easier to work on refining their work through a
login on a Drupal site, even that "registration" is not required.

> Second, even when a site is provided for others, keeping that site up
> requires protection from repressive regimes.

As would registrars.

> Third, who are you to determine what people need?

For one, being placed in real life situations -- not theoretical -- where I
have had to find media vehicles for people that were out of the reach of
repressive governments.

So, I've been in situations where I have *had* to make determination on
what people need. I haven't had the luxury of presuming what they need as a
rhetorical argument; wrong decisions mean people get hurt. And so far
nobody has.

Those experiences don't mean the same solution will work for all. But they
well refute the wishful thinking that domain registration is necessary to
convey protected speech.

> Fourth, I expect you will tell me next that people can use Google Facebook
> etc.

I wish I could be a mind reader like that to know what people will answer.
But I don't, so I'll fall back on logic and fact rather than needlessly
personalizing things.

In the meantime, I would never advocate the likes of Facebook, Google,
Wordpress, Blogger, etc for expressions of dangerous speech, and I never
have. That would be dumb. So I guess mind reading doesn't always work.

I'm thinking more along the low-tech lines of trusted and sympathetic
clergy, lawyers, journalists, aid workers and other proxies, which have
their own online channels that do not require new domains. There are some
news outlets I trust to protect sources better than most registrars, and
the entire New York Times churns all of its output through a single
second-level domain with (what looks to be) valid WHOIS. Their writers
don't all have their own domains.

> You claim to speak for the world's users, but you do so from the safety of
> a relatively . please don't assume that the conditions that prevail for you
> have any relation to the rest of the world.

I claim to speak for nobody but me. My kids won't even let me order for
them in a restaurant. I simply say what I do as someone with real life
roles in protecting real people who say dangerous things, witnessing a
parade of of free-speech arguments that my own experience tells me is built
on sand. Repeating wishful thinking multiple times doesn't constitute

So as the free-speech argument against reliable WHOIS continues to
demonstrate that it has never been based on anything solid, I guess the
resort to ad hominems is unfortunate but understandable.

- Evan

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