We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Urgent action needed to head off a threat to internet privacy

Maria of Crooked Timber has posted this, warning that there are proposals afoot to oblige those who register domain names to give lots of personal information.

Here is a clip from Maria’s post:

Next week the body that oversees the technical co-ordination of the internet, ICANN, meets at Carthage in Tunisia. The top item on the agenda, for anyone who cares about privacy and freedom of expression, is the WHOIS database. This is the set of data of domain name owners which was originally collected so that network administrators could find and fix technical problems and keep the internet running smoothly.

Of course no collection of personal data can remain long without various interests campaigning to open it up to a variety of unintended uses. In this case, those interests include IP rights holders, law enforcement, oppressive regimes, stalkers, and of course spammers.

While the first two groups have some legitimate interests in this data [Some of us here might disagree re law enforcement - NS], the others clearly do not. (I have blogged before about the unholy alliance of law enforcement and IP holders on this issue.) But instead of pushing for proportionate lawful access requirements, the latter are demanding that the entire database be policed for accuracy and published on the internet for all to see. Which means that if A.N. Other wants to publish a website, he/she must be content for his email and postal address to be made completely public. There are plenty of good and legitimate reasons to want to publish a website anonymously (and you don’t have to be a Chinese dissident to think of them)…”

The rest of the post includes some sample letters to the bods at ICANN. I am not sure I would sign up to every word in them, but it does look to me as if now might be a good time to register our protest.

2 comments to Urgent action needed to head off a threat to internet privacy

  • No need to be a Chinese dissident indeed.

    God (and some Londoners) knows what I’m talking about…

  • Andrew Duffin

    Isn’t it already public?

    I just looked up the WHOIS database for Samizdata.net and there was Perry’s home (?) address and phone number out in the open for all to see.

    No rocket science required.