June 7, 2003

2nd Whois Phonecall

I hear that there was a 2nd conference call on whois issues.

I would have participated. However, nobody bothered to let me know that it was scheduled or what the call-in information was.

From what I have been able to ascertain several of the people who actively participated in the first phone call (and primarly those who expressed concerns about privacy) were not notified. There appears to be a bit of unnatural selection going on - perhaps to tailor the result and create yet another one of ICANN's infamous artificial "consensus" policies.

Looking through the summary it appears that the intellectual property folks still don't give a damn about privacy - they just want more and better ore to data mine (although they give it a better name - tiered access, in which they, of course, occupy the most privileged tier.)

The registrars seem concerned that their costs of providing this service are covered. That makes sense. But it seems that there is also an undercurrent of desire to be able to turn whois into a profit center. Banks and large merchants sell their customer's personal data for a profit; it is understandable that registrars would like to be able to do the same.

I continue to see that most of the people discussing this issue continue to fail to comprehend that the internet is much more than the world wide web. As a consequence it is unfortunate, but likely, that the results of these discussions will end up burdening, perhaps crippling, non-web internet technologies.

Towards the end of the phone call there is discussion about law enforcement. (It was good to see people rebut the assertion by the intellectual property people that they are somehow a form of law enforcement agency and thus entitled to all the privileges, and immunities.)

It is good that the FTC uses whois data to go after consumer fraud. Of course, the FTC has suboena powers and could get to DNS registrar data even if there were no public whois system. It was sad to see the FTC forget that a lot of the fraud that is committed is upon consumers whose name and address and phone number come into the hands of the bad guys via the whois system.

Overall I am feeling that this whois effort is becoming a whitewash for the status quo, perhaps with some some tools to make it even easier for intellectual property attorneys to data mine private information, and perhaps with a nod in the direction of making it easier for registrars to recoup the cost of their participation in what is developing as one of the world's largest and most extensive violations of personal privacy.

Posted by karl at June 7, 2003 11:10 AM