Speak Freely has been an early (and public domain) Voice over IP tool, available for both Unix and Windows systems, with strong encryption of the data transmitted. It worked for me when I played around with it some years ago -- as opposed to more polished and more recent VoIP software I tried. Speak Freely's life is going to end, at least as far as its original author, John Walker -- who founded Autodesk --, is concerned.
Most notably, the end of life announcement quotes an anticipated end of the end-to-end Internet as one of the reasons to discontinue a tool which relies on it.
Writes Walker: The Internet of the near future will be something never contemplated when Speak Freely was designed, inherently hostile to such peer-to-peer applications. ... any machine connected to the Internet could act as a client, server, or (in the case of datagram traffic such as Speak Freely audio) neither--simply a peer of those with which it communicated. Any Internet host could provide any service to any other and access services provided by them. New kinds of services could be invented as required, subject only to compatibility with the higher level transport protocols (such as TCP and UDP). Unfortunately, this era is coming to an end. One need only read discussions on the Speak Freely mailing list and Forum over the last year to see how many users, after switching from slow, unreliable dial-up Internet connections to broadband, persistent access via DSL or cable television modems discover, to their dismay, that they can no longer receive calls from other Speak Freely users. The vast majority of such connections use Network Address Translation (NAT) in the router connected to the broadband link, which allows multiple machines on a local network to share the broadband Internet access. But NAT does a lot more than that.
A user behind a NAT box is no longer a peer to other sites on the Internet. Since the user no longer has an externally visible Internet Protocol (IP) address (fixed or variable), there is no way (in the general case--there may be "workarounds" for specific NAT boxes, but they're basically exploiting bugs which will probably eventually be fixed) for sites to open connections or address packets to his machine. The user is demoted to acting exclusively as a client. While the user can contact and freely exchange packets with sites not behind NAT boxes, he cannot be reached by connections which originate at other sites. In economic terms, the NATted user has become a consumer of services provided by a higher-ranking class of sites, producers or publishers, not subject to NAT.
There are powerful forces, including government, large media organisations, and music publishers who think this situation is just fine. In essence, every time a user--they love the word "consumer"--goes behind a NAT box, a site which was formerly a peer to their own sites goes dark, no longer accessible to others on the Internet, while their privileged sites remain. The lights are going out all over the Internet.
The registrars are going to hold a meeting at Marina del Rey on September 12. Writes Elana Broitman: The intent is to hold an interim meeting where final decisions will not be made, nor will votes be taken, as per our bylaws. But, it will be an opportunity to hold a working meeting on various issues, to meet with the registries if they hold a meeting during this date, and to meet with ICANN staff on these issues.
The GNSO Council is going to discuss the Staff Manager's issues report at its meeting next Thursday. The report recommends deferring further policy-making about the UDRP, on the basis that some of the possible issues found are outside of ICANN's scope, while others are contentious. Some initial thoughts are available here.
Seems like the actual next ICANN meeting isn't Carthage, but Marina del Rey -- with just registrars and registries... More from the registrars list.
Here are the notes I sent to ALAC from last week's GNSO Council conference call.
Yes, it has happened: I've finally thrown away the self-brewn perl code which used to power this weblog for over a year, and have changed over to movable type. Old links and permalinks should continue to work; if anything stops working, please let me know.
This is a much-belated report from the WHOIS Steering Committees telephone conference two weeks ago. For the ALAC, both Wendy Seltzer and I participated.
Bret Fausett has found some interesting news in SEC filings by register.com.
SchwimmerLegal.com has a nice overview table that links home pages, WHOIS services, and registration and dispute resolution policies for a large number of ccTLDs.
GoDaddy.com offers c-Site as a service that is supposed to make federal copyright registration in the US easier. Bret Fausett calls their marketing overly simplistic, if not outright deceptive. The people behind copyright blog, however, write: How does $9,95 ... sound to give your site protection against theft and unauthorized use? Not bad.
Update: Here's a third lawyer weighing in on the topic.
ICANN's ccNSO Launching Group is now taking membership applications for the Country Code Names Supporting Organization.
Computerworld has a theory that attempts to explain SCO's threats against anything Linux: Driving up the stock price.
The At-Large Advisory Committee is seeking comments on its draft statement on new gTLDs. The statement argues in favor of a more open sTLD RFP, and lists a number of general principles that any addition of new gTLDs should adhere to. Comments can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org until September 7. (Of course, you're also free to use this weblog to comment...)
Via Goolgenews: According to Koera IT News, governments and businesses in Asia are in the process of defecting from the current Internet address (domain) structure which is unilaterally administered by the US-led ICANN, and begin to unveil independent alternative services.
The article goes on to talk about some new service offers which appear to aim at providing complete URLs in non-latin scripts, from the protocol identifier to the top level domain. (As much of the referenced information isn't available in any language that I'd understand, I may quite well be misunderstanding this, though.)
According to this press release, the JAP anonymizing proxy (think of it as anonymizer.com plus Chaumian mixes) is anonymizing again: The District Court in Frankfurt/Main decided yesterday that the enforcement of the judicial instruction by the Lower District Court in Frankfurt to the partners of the AN.ON project ... is to be suspended.
The United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington has announced a press conference regarding Blaster for 1:30 p.m. PST.
Elana Broitman's note to the registrars list reminds me to blog this: ICANN is in the process of implementing its transfers policies, and has convened a Transfers Assistance Group to help with this. Sebastian Ricciardi and myself are representing the ALAC there. The group's first call took place a week ago, and was very constructive. Preliminary results are expected for 9/11, when most of the group will meet in Marina del Rey.
Questions the group has to deal with include what agreements to modify in order to implement the transfers policies, what a standardized form of authorization for a transfer should look like, what to fill in for some of the time lines left open in the policy proper, etc.
Another one from the registrars' list: Representatives from the Intellectual Property Constituency are going to call into the registrars' meeting in Marina del Rey to discuss WHOIS privacy and accuracy.
Also, the IPC's Metalitz will be a witness at the upcoming Congressional hearing on WHOIS on 4 September, with Ted Kassinger (DoC), Ben Edelman, and an unknown FBI representative.
Reports AFP (through Yahoo): Ferrero (known in domain name circles for the kinder.at case and known to the general public for Kinderschokolade and chocolate surprise eggs) attempted to keep competitor Haribo from using the word "Kinder" (children) in the product designation "Kinder Kram" (kids' stuff) for sweeties, and failed in Germany's highest civil court. The court decision is not yet available online.
Luxembourg is a good example when it comes to the consequences of an Internet market that isn't sufficiently competitive.
Suppose you want to set up a small business, with a .lu domain name, a little web site and some e-mail addresses. You can purchase an "all-inclusive" Internet access and hosting package for small businesses with the leading (almost monopoly) provider, the national P&T. The domain name is registered directly with dns-lu, though, by faxing or snail-mailing a form to them. (Change requests are to be submitted in writing as well.)
Fortunately, dns-lu is relatively quick when compared to P&T. After you have set up your web hosting and initial set of e-mail addresses (by, again, faxing a form), customer service degrades: You can call an always-busy hotline. You can send e-mail which is ignored. To successfully get an additional e-mail address, though, you have to resort to fax and postal mail again. They may even react to that -- after four months.
Ross Rader seems to be bored and points to a Wired article that explores the background of time-travelling spam. Also via Wired: A watch powered by snake oil that allegedly protects against "electronic pollution", by creating a frequency that neutralizes the electromagnetic fields emanating from devices like cell phones, computers, and radios. As an appropriate countermeasure, I'd recommend the hi-fi garden chair.
In other breaking news (from the BBC), UK police from Blackpool is helping Greek police on Rhodes deal with British tourists. Says one of the officers: I must stress that Blackpool should not be directly compared to Faliraki, although there are obviously some common issues such as people drinking excessively and engaging in criminal behaviour.
Funny (but not outright mad) is the shock and awe expressed in this Associated Press item about RIAA's investigation techniques. Writes AP: The RIAA's latest court papers describe in unprecedented detail some sophisticated forensic techniques used by its investigators. For example, the industry disclosed its use of a library of digital fingerprints, called "hashes," that it said can uniquely identify MP3 music files that had been traded on the Napster service as far back as May 2000. The FBI and other computer investigators commonly examine hashes in hacker cases. Now, that must mean that the RIAA is technically more advanced than file sharers...
Oh well. Time for the week-end.
Martin Schwimmer points to a "not flattering" NY Times article on RCOM's latest financial moves: This Company's Shareholders May Regret It if They Don't Sell .
Reuters: Clinton narrates Wolf-Friendly Peter and the Wolf. (And Gorbachev provides introduction and epilogue.)
Through Dave Farber's IP List: Flawed Routers Flood University of Wisconsin Internet Time Server. Netgear had deployed DSL routers that sent requests to a hard-coded time server at a high rate, causing operational problems to the University. The article details how the University of Wisconsin has been dealing with this, how they plan to proceed, and what kinds of lessons to learn from this.
This announcement was just posted: The ALAC has received an infoDev iCSF grant to support travel of qualifying African participants to ICANN's Carthage meetings, and to a workshop held in connection with the meetings.
Over on CircleID, Bruce Young tells a story of an Internet user who gets into trouble because "his" domain name was registered in the name of a webhosting provider that went bankrupt later on.
He demands that ICANN should put in place safeguards which would prevent this from happening. In particular, Young suggests that customers should not just be able to transfer domain names between registrars, but also between "virtual hosts"; that ICANN establish rules to protect customers of such corporations in the event of business failure, up to the content stored there; and that ICANN mandate that when an intermediate company registers a domain on behalf of a customer, the domain record's administrative contact, as a minimum, must reflect the customer, not the company acting on the customer's behalf.
As far as registrars are concerned, ICANN is currently doing its homework on domain name portability.
As far as web hosting companies are concerned, though, these suggestions only look appealing at first sight. Upon closer inspection, they wouldn't be good policy.
SatireWire , via GrepLaw: 41 U.S. states and six European countries today announced that the act of creating an attachment-based computer virus will now be considered a hate crime because it intentionally targets stupid people. Objections are allegedly coming from the ACLU, though: "Hate crime statutes are specifically designed to protect minority groups," said ACLU President Nadine Strossen. "I'm not sure the number of stupid computer users meets that criterion."