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RE: [ga] Bulk Whois Data Issue

George Kirikos
> Sent: Thursday, April 18, 2002 12:32 AM
> As for self-expression by private citizens, at that point they're
> becoming "publishers", and have entered the public arena, and left the
> private one.

What the vast majority of those currently involved in ICANN understand about
publishing can be written on a postage stamp. Do you really believe that an
individual with only one address and phone number should be denied
registration services unless they publish their home address and phone
number for all the world to see? If those are the rules, what kind of public
resource would that be?

>Most newspapers don't allow anonymous editorials/letters
> to the editor, and if they did, they would take responsibility for the
> contents of those anonymous publications.

You have completely missed the point. It is a fundamental requirement of any
publisher that the personal data of a contributor (one who is representing
themselves as a private individual) is not disclosed in the public domain to
the extent that direct contact could then be made by a nutcase, and in my
experience, it never happens. Consequently, I have never known of a case
where the publisher was held liable for harm done to the contributor as a
result of such disclosure, but I imagine that's precisely the reason why the
traditional media do not publish personal contact data when, for instance, a
member of the public steps into the public arena.

To verify this, please retrieve the last issue of your local rag from your
recycle bin, dry it off and check the Letters column. You will see only the
name and town, or State of the writer, never street address and phone
number. Submission guidelines stipulate contact details must be provided as
a condition to publication, but will not actually be published. In the same
way, the Registry should hold the Registrants details in private beyond the
most basic identifier, a name, State, or Town and Country, possibly an
email, but that's all.

This is more than slightly off-topic, but since you mention it, allow me to
correct you about "fair use" guidelines in traditional media coverage -
these would cover the situation where, for example, a member of the public
should give up their privacy, a situation you claim arises as a result of
registering a domain, whereas I would say generally occurs only when a
person becomes the subject in a human interest story (man bites dog and so
on). Even then, loss of privacy is confined to identification in the form of
a name caption and vague qualifying status (Local shopkeeper, victim's
brother-in-law, defendant's lawyer, town resident etc) - no phone number or
specific street address that could point to the person's physical location.

There are exceptions, but typically this would be where the individual is
representing an organization or corporation and has themselves requested
contact details be published for the community's benefit, such as for a
Crisis Center.

Also, one has to be particularly careful about disclosing personal data
about well known personalities. Photos of secret lovers caught leaving home
in a barrage of flashlight is fair game, but I defy you to produce a copy of
even one article by the gutter press that discloses any precise location and
contact details - a house number, a zip code, a private phone number, it
simply is *not done* in traditional media - however inaccurate or defamatory
the article about that person may be. I don't care whether it is a private
citizen or a public figure, if you can find me just *one* such example, that
is not related to self-promotion events, crime-related incidents, or
involving a corporate address or public area, (theaters, restaurants,
hotels, TV studio, airport, government building, car park, etc.), then I am
willing to consider changing my position on the WHOIS database.

> I think the real issue is abuse of the bulk access to the information.
> Have stiff penalties for the abuse (e.g. spamming using the list
> created from the bulk WHOIS), and that would cause it to end.

The real issue is about too much influence by the trademark lobbies and too
little representation of the public interest in the process, resulting in
policies that abuse the rights and freedoms of private citizens.

> Suppose you get spammed by the domain wearethetopspammers.com, who only
> cause you, individually, $0.01 in damage. Yet, their WHOIS information
> is private. Are you saying that we need a class action lawsuit, with
> 500,000 affected individuals to cover the $5,000 costs of serving their
> Italian registrar a subpoena to find out who owns the domain
> "wearethetopspammers.com"? And then when we find that the individual
> who owns the domain is in Brazil, what next? Better to have domain
> owners give up a tiny piece of privacy, which they don't value very
> much in any event, in order to reduce the abuses that come when folks
> are able to enter the public arena anonymously, not taking
> responsibility for their actions.

ICANN is not in the business of website content regulation, but I think you
need to spend a little more time with a few media types before you start
introducing terms under which private citizens should be allowed to enter
the public arena.

Consider the little old lady who gains access to the internet through her
local library and wants to log onto a family website to see her
grandchildren. The latest statistics I have for online stalking in the US
claim 1 in 5 teenagers have been solicited online by a pedophile through
instant messaging. Shocking as this is, the risks pale into insignificance
compared to joining all the dots between website content (photos of young
children) and contact details for the owner (the parent's home address.)

The bottom line is that individuals who register unchartered domains for non
commercial purposes must have the absolute right to withhold details of
their physical location from the public domain. Stuff the trademark lobby.
They are putting people, and especially children, at risk of physical harm.


> Sincerely,
> George Kirikos
> http://www.kirikos.com/
> __________________________________________________
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