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ICANN and the removal of a privacy / proxy option

Posted by on July 15, 2015.

There is a proposal regarding ICANN placing limitations on privacy/proxy services. You can read ICANN’s take on the controversy here: https://www.icann.org/news/blog/on-whois-privacy-proxy-services

The potential is that your provider could be forced to publish contact data in WHOIS or give it out to anyone who complains about your website, without due process. The Internet is the last mainstay of free speech combined with global reach. Protecting privacy should be paramount. Yet, as weak as the whole Internet protocol soup is and with the likes of supercookies, it would be silly to think there is a modicum of privacy available in this cyber paradise (save maybe TOR – maybe not).

Striving to make surrendering privacy harder for those that endeavor to maintain it is a delicate balance against the negative forces that exploit such anonymity. Throw this debate up regarding the potential to stop piracy (RIAA) and you will get little support. Switch the debate to human trafficking and I suspect at least a pause will be found. In the present case, it seems this is directed at the former as it is related to domains actively used for commercial transactions.

The whole ICANN arrangement is a strange formation in its own right. ICANN is considered a sovereign entity, enjoying the same rights and privileges as sovereign countries, while being a private, non-profit, California-registered, public benefit corporation, operating under California law, not United States federal law.

When it comes to this balance between privacy and security, often a compromise must be struck. If there has to be a leaning in one direction or the other, it is clear to me the direction. I will never forget the first time I installed the Sword Project (an open source Bible Study program) and read the following warning:

“WARNING: If you live in a persecuted country and do not wish to risk detection you should NOT use the module remote installation feature!”

We must all stay vigilant before such warnings are not just the exceptions. As Ben Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

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Submitted in: Expert Views, Martin Zinaich |