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WHOIS privacy is essential

  • To: comments-ppsai-initial-05may15@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: WHOIS privacy is essential
  • From: Sven Slootweg <admin@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 7 Jul 2015 13:40:26 +0200

The proposed new regulations on WHOIS privacy are heavily misguided.

First of all, they won't work. 'Business transparency' is not obtained,
because a shady business can very easily obtain a PO box and shell company,
and use these to hide. This is *not* mitigated by forcing registrant

Those who actually *need* WHOIS privacy (activists, dissidents, ...) are
often not able to use a PO box or shell company, as a government order is
the weak spot of these methods - whereas a dodgy business is likely to get
a due process, a dissident is not. This puts them at risk.

Secondly, there are myriad ways in which these new regulations can be
abused. Like the DMCA is already heavily abused, a proposal to 'unmask'
WHOIS data upon a copyright complaint is effectively a backdoor.

Repercussions for false copyright claims are effectively non-existent, and
this is unlikely to ever change, because of the inherent financial
imbalance in the legal system between individuals and corporate
organizations. This means that anybody can unmask WHOIS for any domain at
will, thereby completely defeating the point of WHOIS privacy.

Thirdly, this does not 'protect against criminals'. It is typically very
easy for a criminal to obtain a false identity that passes WHOIS data
verification, and thus they do not *need* a WHOIS privacy service (nor are
they likely to trust one). This is further supported by easyDNS, a party
that has extensive experience in this area:

Fourthly, it is extremely hard to define 'commercial'. Is a sale of a
product commercial? How about advertisements? How about accepting
donations? How about accepting *material* donations? How about a site with
none of that, but a member chooses to post a notice that they're selling
their CD collection because they don't have the space for it anymore?

Creative Commons has run into this exact issue with their CC-NC license -
it is incredibly hard to define, and there are so many edge cases that
you're bound to make mistakes. This is also the reason why many
organizations discourage use of anything licensed under a non-commercial
license - they have no real way to know whether their use is considered
commercial or not.

In conclusion, these regulations are not beneficial to anybody - other than
copyright owners who wish to *bypass due process*, as they have tried to do
in many other areas throughout the years, and always with unacceptable
consequences. Due process for these matters *already exists*, and it should
be followed.

This proposal will *not* stop crime. It will *not* encourage business
transparency. It will only hurt those who are already vulnerable, by
bypassing due process. It will break down yet another part of the free and
open internet, making it more closed and corporately controlled.

ICANN should not stand for this.

- Sven

*Sven Slootweg*
Founder of the Cryto Coding Collective <http://cryto.net/>
Personal homepage: http://cryto.net/~joepie91
Instant free PDF hosting: http://pdf.yt/

*Please consider donating if you appreciate my work!*
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