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Invalid WHOIS Data: Who Is Responsible?

Suppose you wanted to know who operates a website at a given domain name. Perhaps you suspect that the domain name is pointing to a website that offers illegal content, or you may just want to send a comment to its authors. Conveniently, the Internet provides a so-called "WHOIS" system that ordinarily provides contact information for each registered domain. But in the case of many hundreds of thousands of domains, the WHOIS data just isn't accurate.  more

Privacy Matters: Is It Time To Abolish The WHOIS Database?

Recently, I entered my domain name in a "WHOIS" database query to test the results of the database by using WHOIS on a number of domain name registrar websites. WHOIS is a database service that allows Internet users to look up a number of matters associated with domain names, including the full name of the owner of a domain name, the name of the domain name hosting service, the Internet Protocol or I.P. number(s) corresponding to the domain name, as well as personally identifying information on those who have registered domain names. I was astonished to find... more

ICANN at Large Shanghais The At-Large Conversation

On October 28, as ICANN met in Shanghai, China for its regular board meeting, ICANN at Large held a lengthy meeting to address user concerns, particularly the disenfranchisement of the At-Large by ICANN, and the At-Large's self-organizing in response. The meeting was chaired by YJ Park, one of our Executive Panel Members, and was well attended. Attendees included ... more

A Closed And Secret Process Is Not The Answer To Reform

The recent meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in China demonstrates a serious dilemma for Internet users around the world. In the name of reforming ICANN and making it more responsive, ICANN ended the seats of the At-Large directors on its board. This was the part of the ICANN structure that was supposed to be responsive to Internet users. more

Internationalized Domain Names: The Babelization Factor

As current statistics now clearly indicate, two-thirds of the estimated 560 million people online are non-English speakers. As one would expect, in the upcoming ICANN Shanghai Meeting of October 28, 2002, IDNs (Internationalized Domain Names, also known as Multilingual Domain Names), are one of the main topics of discussion. This global affair is also fueling the growing list of Internationalized Domain Name Certified Registrars that offer domain names in many other non-English characters with .com, .net, and .org. more

The Internet And Its Governance: Where Should We Look For Models?

The US Department of Commerce (DOC) has recently signed a new contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for one more year. ICANN and the DOC are to continue to work together to design an organizational form that is suitable to administer and control the infrastructure of the Internet. That infrastructure includes the IP numbers, which are critical to the functioning of the Internet protocol TCP/IP. These numbers must be unique for the Internet to continue to function. The infrastructure also includes the protocols that make the Internet possible. Protocols involve the conventions or agreements that each network that is part of the Internet accepts in order to make communication possible across the boundaries of the different technical and political and administrative entities that comprise the networks of the Internet. Another component of the Internet's infrastructure is the domain name system (DNS). This system includes the names that identify various sites on the Internet and the translation of those names into IP numbers via the system of computers that make the one to one mapping between names and numbers. more

Parsing Hype From Hope: Will ENUM Spark Changes In Telecom?

In the beginning there was silence; then, silence begat communication, and communication begat more communication and, ultimately, group communication formed and begat a primordial "network" of communication that gradually and inevitably increased in effectiveness and complexity: there were only signal fires at first but, then, there were cave drawings, carrier pigeons, shouting from hill-tops, smoke from fire, lines of cannon fire, the telegraph, Alexander Graham Bell, and, finally, the network of networks known as the Internet. But, is that it? Is there not something more impressive in its impact upon communication than the Internet? What more might one desire than the dynamic wonders of the Internet, you ask? Well, what about ENUM? "E-What!?" more

TLD Registration Enforcement: A Call for Automation - Part II

Last month, I wrote to describe the state of registration restrictions in .BIZ, .US, and .NAME. I noted trends among nonconforming registrations in these TLDs, and I suggested that certain automated enforcement systems might serve to improve compliance. But an important larger question remained unanswered: Why care about registration restrictions in the first place? Much as registries might like to ignore the restrictions, I submit that the Internet community nonetheless ought to hold them to their contracts.
 more

The At-Large: An Insider's View

February 2002 was a seminal month in the evolution of the ICANN At-Large movement. We began hearing reports from our European members that ICANN's chief lawyer, Joe Sims, was in Brussels, Belgium, holding closed-door meetings with European Commission members to gauge their reaction to plans that completely restructure the ICANN board, replacing the At-Large with a body of government representatives! The rumors were confirmed days later when ICANN President M. Stuart Lynn posted his "ICANN - The Case for Reform". more

Domain Name Theft, Fraud And Regulations

When it comes to domain name disputes, no domain name has captured more media attention than sex.com. Of course, disputes about sex often obtain a great deal of attention, and the sex.com domain name dispute can grab its share of headlines because the case involves sex, theft, declared bankruptcy, a once-thriving Internet porn business, and fraud, instead of the typical cybersquatting allegations. Indeed, this case is remarkable for its potential impact on the development of caselaw concerning whether there is a valid basis to assume that trademark interests should overwhelm all non-commercial interests in the use of domain names. The answer is no, but the caselaw to support that answer is in tension with cases that strongly imply a contrary conclusion. more

TLD Registration Enforcement: A Call for Automation - Part I

The past year has brought a rise in so-called "open and chartered" top-level domains (TLDs). Like the traditional open TLDs of .COM, .NET, and .ORG, these namespaces encourage large-scale registrations, but they differ in that they limit who can legitimately register domains. So far, many thousands of their registrations seem to break the stated rules. It's therefore worth thinking through their respective enforcement efforts -- before the situation gets out of control. more

ICANN And The DOC Can't

The former contract with ICANN and the US Department of Commerce (DOC) was due to expire on September 30, 2002. In the statement announcing the renewal, the DOC acknowledged that ICANN was the subject of many complaints from many sectors of the Internet community. Some of these complaints had been presented to the US Congress during a hearing held in June 2002 by a Senate Subcommittee. At the hearing, a General Accounting Office (GAO) spokesperson, Peter Guerrero, testified, noting not only that ICANN had failed in its mandate, but that the U.S. Department of Commerce was also at fault in failing to properly oversee ICANN activities. He explains... more

September Deadline: Can The ICANN Model Be Revised?

On September 30, 2002, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the US Department of Commerce (DOC) and the corporation created to privatize the infrastructure of the Internet will expire. This corporation, known as ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has had a very contentious existence from its earliest days. On July 10, 2002, a US Department of Commerce official, Nancy Victory, sent a letter to ICANN. She wrote that the agreement between ICANN and the DOC "will expire on September 30, 2002 and in the coming weeks, the Department of Commerce will assess whether to renew, extend, or modify this agreement. To assist in this review process," Victory asked, "I request that you provide me with a report detailing ICANN's efforts in these areas, as well as any other information that might inform the Department in its decision-making with respect to this agreement." Victory said that the response to her letter should be sent no later than August 15, 2002. more

Have You Monitored Your DNS Performance Lately?

Domain Name System (DNS) surveys such as that recently conducted by Men & Mice continually demonstrate that the DNS is riddled with errors. Since the DNS continues to work, this raises three questions:

1. Does it matter that the DNS is riddled with errors?
2. Why is it riddled with errors?
3. How can it be fixed? more

ICANN, President Roosevelt And The Thralldom of Names

Former President Theodore Roosevelt is not one whose remarks are usually associated with the domain name industry, but his commentary in 1913 could just as easily have been written today:

"The mob leaders usually state that all that they are doing is necessary in order to advance the cause of 'liberty', while the dictator and the oligarchy are usually defended upon the ground that the course they follow is absolutely necessary so as to secure 'order'. Many excellent people are taken in by the use of the word 'liberty' at the one time, and the use of the word 'order' at the other, and ignore the simple fact that despotism is despotism, tyranny tyranny, oppression oppression, whether committed by one individual or by many individuals, by a state or by a private corporation." more

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