Law

Law / Recently Commented

Mistrust of ICANN Is Fully Vindicated

Recently, I have been reporting on a highly questionable auction scheme for a single domain name, o.com, which is currently being improperly warehoused by ICANN along with a number of other .com and .net domain names. This violates ICANN's Bylaws -- but, so what? more

Facebook's "Supreme Court" Has Implications for International Law

Last year, Facebook created its widely dubbed "Supreme Court" (officially the Oversight Board) in an effort to outsource some of the platform's most difficult content decisions. By all accounts, Facebook hoped the Board would have global legitimacy to make the toughest content decisions and help avoid reputational damage for being biased, arbitrary, tone-deaf, or worse. more

The Insult and Injury of the U.S. Government's Failure to Enforce ICANN's Contractual Obligation

Someone recently observed that many stakeholders have fallen victim to a "chilling effect" resulting from fear of retaliation by the rich and powerful bullies currently infecting the multistakeholder community, ICANN, and Internet governance. I related to what I was hearing because I've been personally targeted and libelously attacked and it is deeply dismaying enough having to worry about threats to revenue and reputation along with other harmful effects of such thuggery. more

An Anti-Competitive .com Fait Accompli?

In a recent article, Is ICANN Staff Misleading the Board Into Violating Obligations to the U.S. Government, I wrote: The referenced Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is the vehicle by which the U.S. government delegates to ICANN the responsibilities for overseeing the technical management of the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS)... This is important for many reasons, and much remains to be analyzed for additional context that can help expose the rot at the Internet's root. more

Is ICANN Staff Misleading the Board Into Violating Contractual Obligations to the U.S. Government?

Recently, I had time to reflect on various matters after the alternator in my vehicle decided that the middle of a mountain pass was the appropriate time and place to go to that great big pick-and-pull scrapyard in the sky while leaving me stranded with no cell signal on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Until that point, I had been seriously considering applying to ICANN's Nominating Committee for one of the three open seats on ICANN's Board of Directors. more

Multistakeholderism Is Working: A Short Series of Articles

I was in a conversation with a close friend the other day, you know the kind where you have been friends for so long that you have endured each other experimenting with changed politics, evolving religion, and if you are unlucky, flirtations with multilevel marketing. We were discussing politics that day, which is not unusual given our ancient friendship and the recent change at the helm of the United States. more

Is ICANN Running a Racket?

On March 13, 2019, I published an article on CircleID, Portrait of a Single-Character Domain Name, that explored the proposed release and auction of o.com, a single-character .com domain name that was registered in 1993 and assigned to the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) by Dr. Jon Postel. Although the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has since raised serious objections... more

Ending U.S. Government Amnesia About Its Legacy Internet Registries is in the Public Interest

On July 2, 2002, Damien Cave published an interview on Salon.com with John Gilmore, "original 'cypherpunk' and all-around Internet supergeek," titled "It's time for ICANN to go." In this wide-ranging interview, Gilmore -- an early employee of Sun Microsystems who also co-founded Cygnus Software (acquired by Red Hat) and was an early supporter of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Internet Society (ISOC) -- offered blunt insight and eye-opening historical detail... more

Emergence, Rise and Fall of Surveillance Capitalism, Part 1: Emergence

One of the consequences of the Jan 6th events is a renewed attention towards Surveillance Capitalism as a key doctrine undermining democracy. This 2-part series of articles discusses the emergence, rise, and fall of Surveillance Capitalism under the premise that the better we understand the danger at the door, the better we are able to confront it. more

Why the Internet is Not Like a Railroad

When one person transmits the speech of another, we have had three legal models, which I would characterize as Magazine, Bookstore, and Railroad. The Magazine model makes the transmitting party a publisher who is entirely responsible for whatever the material says. The publisher selects and reviews all the material it published. If users contribute content such as letters to the editor, the publisher reviews them and decides which to publish. more

The Netizen's Guide to Reboot the Root (Part I)

In the world of ICANN and Internet policy, complexity is manufactured to create an illusion that issues are impenetrably technical such that normal and everyday principles can't apply. This causes a pervasive and entrenched phenomenon of eyes that glaze over at the mere mention of the word "ICANN" -- including those of government regulators and other officials that might otherwise take more of an active interest. more

.com Is A Clear and Present Danger to Online Safety

"The Internet is the real world now." This assessment was offered by Protocol, a technology industry news site, following the very real violence on Capitol Hill during the counting of the electoral college votes that officially determines the next president of the United States. The media outlet went on to say that, "[t]he only difference is, you can do more things and reach more people online -- with truth and with lies -- than you can in the real world." more

NTIA Objects to Planned o.com Auction

According to media sources, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) wrote to Verisign last Friday, objecting to the company's plan to auction o.com to the highest bidder. The planned release for o.com - described by the Second Amendment to the .com Registry Agreement and intended as a pilot for the remaining reserved single-character .com names - involved an opaque consideration process that ignored community input and set aside hard-won trademark protections developed by stakeholders in order to maximize dollars earmarked for an unidentified cadre of non-profit organizations. more

Holding Trump Accountable Under Public International Law

Trump and his enablers are well known to disrespect if not disdain legal systems, including public international law. He has effectively abrogated every treaty instrument relating to international communications at the whim of a tweet. His behavior has dishonoured the USA in a way that will take years to remedy. Trump's actions to ban access to Android Operating System updates on Chinese products have significantly harmed cybersecurity worldwide. more

Is Booking.com a Generic Term?

A fundamental rule of trademarks is that they have to be distinctive, and that nobody can register a trademark on a generic term like "wine" or "plastic." In a case decided today by the U.S. Supreme Court, the court decided 8-1 that online travel agent Booking.com could register its domain name as a trademark. In this case, I think the majority got it wrong, and Justice Breyer's lone dissent is correct. more