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Comments: GNSO Privacy & Proxy Services Accreditation Issues Working Group Initial Report

  • To: comments-ppsai-initial-05may15@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Comments: GNSO Privacy & Proxy Services Accreditation Issues Working Group Initial Report
  • From: Donald Carstairs <carstairsdb@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 4 Jul 2015 17:56:57 -0300

Thank you for the chance to comment.  The majority of the report appears
equitable and practical.  I am troubled by the sections mandating
involuntary disclosure of registrant information to certain special
interest groups, without court order or subpoena (see, for example, annex
E, Section III, D, p. 91).  This suggests undue influence over the report
by those special interest groups, particularly intellectual property
organizations and law enforcement agencies, whose concerns are valid but
not paramount.

There is a reason for judicial oversight. Law enforcement has a history of
abuse of individual rights when not held in check by the judiciary.  Large
intellectual property groups have demonstrated a similar pattern of
over-reach in their otherwise legitimate pursuit of intellectual pirates.
If disclosure of an individual's contact information is required, there are
existing legal processes to obtain a court order.

Privacy is a core human value.  We are social creatures. We crave
trustworthy relationships in which we can share our thoughts and feelings,
without fear of mockery or retribution. Taking away the right to privacy is
the definition of a police state.

I am a physician.  In my country, medical abortion is legal. If I were to
publish a website providing information on abortion services or in any way
facilitating the act of abortion, this would legitimately be considered a
commercial activity.  If my personal details were then made public, I would
be subject to daily harassment from anti-abortion advocates. This would
include attempts to cause physical harm to me, my associates and my family
and would without question include threats against my life.

As a less extreme example, my license to practice medicine is subject to
the approval of a professional society.  That license (and with it my
ability to earn an income) can be revoked at any time, with little
recourse, if I express a legitimate but politically incorrect opinion.

The majority of domain registrants have a similar need for privacy.  We
live in an age of social media mob mentality, with repercussions beyond the
confines of the internet.  Businesses and individuals can be destroyed for
expressing valid opinions on controversial subjects.

Full privacy as default is vital.  Any information made available on the
internet, even for a few seconds, can never be made private again.  WHOIS
listings contain data fields that are key components in identify theft.

Some suggestions in the report are impractical.  "Commercial" is impossible
to define and is an irrelevant distinction. Registration of businesses with
local government is not a valid comparison as ICANN is not a legal
authority.  P&P Services are subject to the laws of the jurisdictions in
which they reside. Implementing policies that are opposed to local laws
will put ICANN in an untenable position.

It is impossible to ensure accurate WHOIS data with certainty.  Inadequate
WHOIS privacy protection will drive criminals and law-abiding individuals
underground, circumventing WHOIS policies and compromising legitimate
requests for relay and disclosure.

As to registrant notification of requests for information, this should
always be done unless specifically prohibited by the relevant court order.

There is no valid circumstance to require involuntary publication.

To summarize, privacy is a basic human need.  Once private information has
been disclosed, it cannot be retracted; there is no adequate restitution or
recompense.  Special interest groups are not above judicial oversight and
their needs do not trump the privacy needs of others.  ICANN should ensure
that there is an effective mechanism to relay or disclose information
voluntarily or as required by a court order, while facilitating absolute
privacy in all other circumstances.

Donald Carstairs

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