ICANN’s assault on personal and small business privacy

TLDR

This post is extremely long and detailed and is on quite a dense subject. Here is the short version.

Trouble is brewing.

ICANN, the body that has a monopoly on domain registrations, is now planning to attempt to take over domain privacy providers (like RespectMyPrivacy) as well. Driven in no small part by the people who brought you SOPA, they have a three-step plan:

  1. They will introduce a new accreditation program for domain privacy providers, complete with fees and compliance headaches. (Meaning higher costs for you.)
  2. As a condition of accreditation, require domain privacy providers to adopt privacy-eviscerating policies that mandate disclosure and, in some cases, publication of your private information based on very low standards.
  3. They will require ICANN-accredited domain registrars (i.e. all domain registrars) to refuse to accept registrations that use a non-accredited domain privacy provider, thus driving any privacy provider that actually plans to provide privacy right out of business.
  4. Here are some of the great ideas they’re considering:

    • Barring privacy providers from requiring a court order, warrant, or subpoena before turning over your data.
    • A policy based on the “don’t ask questions, just do it” model of the DMCA. Except that with the DMCA your site can be put back after an error or bogus request; your privacy can never be put back.
    • Requiring privacy providers to honor law enforcement requests to turn information over secretly, even when under no legal obligation to do so.
    • Outright banning the use of privacy services for any domain for which any site in that domain involves e-commerce.

    If this happens, domain privacy will become little more than a fig leaf. Your private information will be available to anyone who can write a convincing-looking letter, and you may or may not be able to find out that it was disclosed.

    The whole proposal is a giant pile of BS that does nothing but service ICANN’s friends in governments and intellectual property (think RIAA/MPAA) at the expense of anyone who’s ever set up a web site and thought that maybe it would be good if their detractors didn’t have their home address. But as much as some at ICANN want to, they can’t just scrap privacy services. ICANN’s members are domain registrars and they make a lot of money from it. So this is the compromise: providers can still sell privacy, it just won’t actually do any good, and when they hand over your info, if they tell you about it at all, they’ll blame ICANN and say their hands are tied by the policies they have to follow.

    If you think maybe paying a lot more for a lot less privacy isn’t such a great idea, ICANN is accepting public comment on this subject until July 7th, 2015. You can email them at comments-ppsai-initial-05may15@icann.org or fill out their online template if you prefer.

    If you do feel like submitting a comment on this, I encourage you to read this whole post (and, if you have time, the working group report). The more informed you are, the more effective your comments will be.
    Continue reading ICANN’s assault on personal and small business privacy…

Official UK government attempt at censorship

Free speech is a funny thing. A lot of people are for it, as long as it’s for them. An awful lot of people lose interest in principles when someone says something they don’t like. And lots of people who say stuff use NearlyFreeSpeech.NET to do it. So it’s not in any way unusual for us to get complaints, or random demands to remove a web site. Some small fraction escalates to a sternly-worded letter from a lawyer containing such toothy admonitions as, “If you do not immediately comply and confirm to me that you have done so, I will be forced to advise my client to instruct me write to you again.” It rarely goes beyond that, because at the same time they’re writing to us, the good lawyers are explaining to their client that web hosts have federal immunity against that type of lawsuit. Some few do go ahead and threaten to sue us, either because they don’t know better or they figure maybe we don’t.
Continue reading Official UK government attempt at censorship…

Welcome SOPA Refugees

We have seen a massive surge in signups (something like 15x usual) over the past couple of days and I think most people can figure out why.

Welcome to all of the people voting against SOPA. (If corporations are people, and money is speech, I think that means spending is voting. I may be hazy on the details.)

Since it shot straight to the top of the “frequently asked questions” list: yes, we oppose SOPA.
Continue reading Welcome SOPA Refugees…

Wikileaks: What would you do?

A NearlyFreeSpeech.NET member posted a clip of a news article about the Dynadot / Wikileaks situation in our member forum, asking what we would have done about it.
Continue reading Wikileaks: What would you do?…

Fresh TACOS

We have made our first update to our Terms & Conditions of Service in over a year, moving from version 1.0.4a to 1.0.5. As the version number suggests, it’s a minor update, but as we have done in the past, we’re making an announcement about it just because we don’t want there to be any ambiguity about it. (This is our “attempt to notify you through reasonable means when the TACOS change.”)
Continue reading Fresh TACOS…

So many categories

So few posts. Until we’ve got posts in every category we’ve posted this one to all of them, so you can see what’s in store and subscribe to the feeds you want before you miss anything.

If this is the only post you see in a category, it just means the category hasn’t been assigned any real posts yet.

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