« November 2003 | Main | January 2004 »

December 2003 Archives

December 2, 2003

Whois Task Force Chairs

All three WHOIS Task Forces have elected their chairmen: Jeff Neuman (registries) will chair TF1 (restricting access for marketing purposes); Jordyn Buchanan (registries) chairs TF2 (data elements displayed and collected), and Brian Darville (IPC) will chair TF3 (accuracy).

An open procedural question on all three task forces is whether task force members who participate as experts or liaisons (or in their capacity as nominating committee appointees on the council) will have voting rights on task forces. An opinion from the General Counsel is being expected on this.

FAQ on new registry services PDP

ICANN staff has just sent an FAQ on the new registry services PDP to the GNSO Council. The document will be posted to the ICANN web site later today.

At its conference call tonight, the council is going to discuss what its next steps in this process will be. Draft terms of reference here.

GNSO begins "new registry services" PDP

On its telephone conference tonight, the GNSO council has decided to launch the policy-development process on designing the parameters for a process to be used by ICANN when approving certain requests for changes to registries (adopted with two registry representatives voting no and one abstaining; on the council); the council will deal with this issue as a "committee of the whole" (adopted with one registry representative abstaining). The council will use the terms of reference drafted by Bruce Tonkin, as amended on the call. The amendmends made on the call also included a rephrasing of the issue statement itself. The general sense continues to be that the procedure to be designed is to be applied in those situations in which ICANN has to give agreement to some change under the current contracts. This process is not about changing the scope of the obligations that are contained in the current contracts.

A procedural motion by the registries to defer the ultimate vote by two weeks, so the terms of reference could be refined to be acceptable to them, was rejected by the rest of the council.

December 3, 2003

Movie industry to customers: Ash Nazg.

The Lord of the RingsGermany's movie industry has started an awareness campaign about our localized version of the DMCA; the message is that movie "pirates" are criminals. The campaign's strategy is to insinuate that casual, non-commercial users of file sharing networks may face the maximum penalties available for commercial movie pirates.

Out of the three main motives of the campaign, one is tellingly similar to the EFF's Let the Music Play campaign (and, ultimately, backfires); one is obscene, alluding to music pirates possibly being raped by fellow prison inmates (and, ultimately, backfires); and one puts the Lord of the Rings into a wholly new perspective (and, ultimately, backfires too).

One Ring Law to rule them all, One Ring Law to find them,
One Ring Law to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

December 4, 2003

GNSO on New Registry Services: Terms of Reference posted.

GNSO chair Bruce Tonkin has posted updated terms of reference for the GNSO's policy-development on a Procedure for use by ICANN in considering requests for consent and related contractual amendments to allow changes in the architecture or operation of a gTLD registry.

Explicitly out of scope: Additional obligations on registry operators or gTLD sponsors beyond what is already specified in their existing agreements.

Later: Susan Crawford is concerned and confused about this process, and asks about the relation between this process and consensus policy. How is "none" as an answer?

Cultural Commons in the Wild: Books Outdoor.

A recent project by a local foundation has installed a simple, yet amazing form of cultural commons in Bonn: A public bookshelf, in a public place. Anyone is free to take any book from the shelf; the organizers ask that books either be returned when read, or replaced by a different book.

It will be interesting to observe whether this project succeeds in creating a place for freely exchanging books (and, also, ideas), or whether it becomes a victim of either vandalism or egoism.

December 7, 2003

WSIS: Agreement on Internet Governance.

Veni Markovski reports that there is now agreement on Internet Governance at WSIS. In short, the Secretary General of the UN is asked to convene a working group that has to report back in 2005.

December 8, 2003

Being responsive to governments' needs?

Bret Fausett quotes David McGuire, and observes that, since the GAC is mostly operating in closed shop mode, it's hard to assess the GAC's effectivity.

I wonder, though, if the criticism out there is really about the GAC's effectivity, or about ICANN's fundamental design; if the criticism is about ICANN's willingness, or if it is about ICANN's abilities and about its usefulness as a tool for governments to regulate on the Internet.

Christopher Wilkinson's recent remarks hint towards the second interpretation, as does the ongoing work of looking at the WIPO2 recommendations (General Counsel's briefing here), and their possible implementation: The GAC had recommended that ICANN implement WIPO's recommendations to extend the UDRP to give special protection to the names and acronyms of intergovernmental organizations, and country names; it was also suggested that review of such UDRP decisions in national courts be replaced by de novo arbitration. Opposition against making these changes is essentially universal throughout the non-GAC part of the ICANN community. What the GAC is asking for, and what ICANN supposedly would have to do in order to be responsive to governments' needs, is to somehow enact a substantial change to an established consensus policy against the community's consensus, and without any review of the question whether the recommendations should be implemented at all.

It's not clear to me how this should be possible; indeed, if ICANN was able to implement this advice in the way the GAC suggests, that would be deeply troubling by itself.


Wireless Internet access comes with a price tag -- if you want to use it at WSIS, where delegates discuss the digital divide. Compare that to ICANN meetings where free Wi-Fi is one of the standard deliverables for local organizers.

December 9, 2003

ICC: A proposal for internet governance.

From the International Chamber of Commerce web site comes a proposal for internet governance, by Talal Abu-Ghazaleh:

1. Maintain the operational management of the internet under private sector leadership, driven by the dynamics of business. 2. Support ICANN's continued evolution, preserving private sector leadership while bolstering global legitimacy. 3. Set up within the TF a Governance Commission to be chaired by the US permanently, with membership from ITU, WIPO, WEF, ICC, UNCTAD, in addition to one representative from each continent. 4. Encourage the processes of International Domain Names implementation and Intellectual Property Rights protection.


Mueller on ICANN, WSIS, and the Making of Global Civil Society

Says Milton Mueller: You say, "act now, democratize later" and it sounds bad. But let me respond by asking: if you don't act, how can you ever democratize? And are you saying that no one should act until and unless they are sure that their agenda and their organizations are perfectly representative? Seems like a recipe for paralysis.

December 11, 2003

Andrew McLaughlin on Public Participation in ICANN

Andrew McLaughlin responds to Palfrey et al: In short, concluding that the ICANN experiement in public participation has been a failure because online public forums have been a failure is like saying that television has been a failure because Cop Rock was a failure.

December 15, 2003

Lessig on WSIS and Europe

Writes Lawrence Lessig: The Europeans have traditionally been committed to deploying the internet in the least convenient and most expensive way possible.

Sounds like a description of the official WiFi available at the latest CeBIT in Hannover. Expensive, over-organized, and unusable.

(Then again, the GPRS service I'm using when on the road, domestically, is reasonably affordable, easy to use, and stable.)

Luxembourg Wall Calendar, anyone?

So I was searching the net for a 2004 wall calendar featuring the old quarters and fortifications of Luxembourg city (UNESCO world heritage list entry here).

Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the mainstream taste in wall calendars, which appears to consist in Terriers, swimsuits, cats, more Terriers, even more Terriers, still more Terriers, yet more Terriers, and occasionally Spaniels, Pomeranians, other kinds of Terriers, Dachshunds, more swimsuits -- and FDNY Firefighters.

Any help in finding a non-swimsuit, non-firefighter, and non-cute-animal calendar featuring old Luxembourg would be welcome.

December 16, 2003

Re: Secret Meetings

Bret Fausett complains about secret meetings at ICANN, and reads the one-day board retreat planned for Rome as a bad thing. I disagree: When the public board meetings that we are seeing for "transparency purposes" are mostly smoke and mirrors anyway (and the existence of secret board dinners is a widely-held secret by itself), it's good news and a step towards a less-nonsense ICANN to see an early announcement of a board retreat.

December 18, 2003

GNSO Council: An unspectacular call.

The GNSO council just finished one of its most unspectacular calls ever, mostly discussing procedural issues and time lines for the three whois task forces, following up on the discussions the task forces had in separate telephone conferences earlier this week.

The most remarkable observation from this call might be that the task forces seem to converge on what time line may be reasonable to get data gathered and work done -- and that this time line is different from what's in the PDP.

December 19, 2003

What flag y'er sailin' under?

Jack Sparrow on a sinking ship.Wendy Seltzer (who is, like me, an ALAC liaison to WHOIS Task Forces 1 and 2) points to one of the many catches with whois policy.

Registrars and registrants face various kinds of problems caused by massive abuse of WHOIS data. An easy answer to this consists in attempting to limit consumers of query-based WHOIS to human beings. The practical implementation is believed to consist in shutting down port 43 whois, and adding a poor imitation of a Turing Test to the web interfaces. Legitimate consumers of massive amounts of WHOIS data are then expected to make use of registrars' dedicated bulk access mechanism.

Wendy raises two issues with this approach: One, common poor imitations of Turing tests are cumbersome to use; "reading ability tests" can be a serious accessibility problem for, e.g., visually impaired data users. They are also not effective, as they essentially lead to an arms race between illegitimate data users and registrars -- and it is not clear at all that registrars will win that race. Two, bulk access is expensive, which means that non-commercial legitimate data users (like researchers) rely on mass queries to port 43. Also, since whois data are a weapon in legal battles, making mass access to whois data expensive shifts the balance in these battles even more towards the wealthier party. Put more aggressively, if WHOIS is used by IP owners as a tool to harass the public, then the public should be entitled to harass back.

These are persuasive arguments for keeping public access to WHOIS data unencumbered -- if it wasn't for the privacy problem: Address data -- and, with thick registries on the rise, even home phone numbers -- of registrants are up for grabs, for arbitrary purposes. Wendy's answer to this is elegant (and I agree with it as a "perfect world" scenario): Give registrants the option not to supply contact data, and keep open access to all the data supplied.

In the imperfect world we live in, though, there are strong incentives for registrars to collect at least some contact data, and to make that easily accessible to IP owners and law enforcement. What could a balanced imperfect world solution look like, then?

  • Strike as many data elements as possible from the WHOIS policy. There is, for instance, little non-harassing use for the registrant phone and fax numbers outside existing business relations; at the same time, these are guaranteed to infringe on individual registrants' privacy. Administrative Contact phone and fax numbers are only marginally better. Registrars should not have to collect this information, and if they chose to collect it, they should not publish it online.
  • Ask data users to return the favor and (1) prove their identity -- e.g., using a certificate in an appropriate public key infrastructure --, and (2) indicate their purpose. Make that information available to registrants and other data subjects. As a side effect, this makes it easier to prevent mass queries without resorting to bad imitations of Turing tests.

Thoughts and comments welcome.

December 21, 2003

Hemingway, virally licensed.

oldmansea.jpgFrom the Arrow Books edition of Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea:

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

December 24, 2003

CircleID bug report.

Interesting blog items occasionally show up on CircleID. That's good, because CircleID is indexed by Google News. There's one bad habit with CID, though: Headlines often get changed there, sometimes changing meaning (even if slightly), and causing confusion.

It would be good if CircleID would ask authors before re-publishing changed versions of opinion pieces.

December 31, 2003

WHOIS: Time for fat-reduced registries?

I had another look at some of the contracts' WHOIS provisions tonight, and stumbled over a point that I had missed earlier. In the Registrar Accreditation Agreement, the billing contact is not part of the published data set, but retained by the registrar; this does not prevent registrars from publishing that record. In most of the thick TLD agreements' appendices O (or, if sponsored, attachments 15; see .info for an unsponsored example), though, the billing contact is included in the published whois information. There is a similar (but better-known) inconsistency with the registrant's telephone and fax numbers and e-mail address which are, again, not part of the data set that must be published by registrars, but included with thick registry WHOIS elements.

For individual registrants, these data elements -- if entered as originally intended -- are among the most privacy-relevant ones in the entire WHOIS data set.

Happy New Year!

sekt.png(Almost) from IP: I wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2004, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make Europe great (not to imply that Europe is necessarily greater than any other continent or economic entity), and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, or sexual preference of the wishes.

About December 2003

This page contains all entries posted to No Such Weblog in December 2003. They are listed from oldest to newest.

November 2003 is the previous archive.

January 2004 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.35