1 July 2015
ICANN Public Comment Forum: https://www.icann.org/public-comments/2013-whois-accuracy-spec-review-2015-05-14-en
Thank you for this opportunity to provide comment on the Review of the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement’s Whois Accuracy Program Specification.
IP Justice is a San Francisco-based nonprofit civil liberties organization that promotes balanced intellectual property rights and Internet policy that enables freedom and innovation.(http://www.ipjustice.org)
IP Justice strongly opposes ICANN’s recommendation that domain name registrars must delete and suspend domain name registrations without due process of law and its recommendation that registrars must verify the identity of customers in case intellectual property lawyers might want to sue them at some point in the future.
This proposal does not respect the privacy rights of Internet users, who have a fundamental right to privacy under numerous international treaties, national constitutions, and other legal instruments throughout the world. Article 29 Working Party has repeatedly informed ICANN of its policy’s divergence from international law, citing chapter and verse of the many violations, to no effect on ICANN.
ICANN’s continuous thumbing of its nose to Privacy Commissioners and Data Protection Authorities was even the subject of a 2014 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Workshop in which multi-stakeholders participated, including a Dutch Privacy Authority and the Council of Europe.
And yet ICANN soldiers on, claiming to represent “the global public interest” while ignoring all regard for what that actually means, including upholding the well-established privacy rights of the Internet users in its policies and operations.
No one’s personal information should be revealed without legal due process, regardless of if the request comes from a legitimate law enforcement agency or from grabby intellectual property rights holders, eager to expand their rights further, and at the expense of other legitimate rights, such as privacy and due process.
Furthermore ICANN’s proposal overlooks the significant harm it puts Internet users in by requiring the worldwide disclosure of their personal details to bad actors to use for any nefarious purpose. ICANN never conducted a “risk” to “reward” analysis to consider whether the risk of exposing activists, dissidents, and ordinary citizens to such an invasion of their privacy was really worth the cost.
This cost of business should not be off-loaded to third-parties, such as registrars, who are increasingly pressured to “police and control” the Internet and become agents of “law enforcement”, providing an easy means for anyone to sue their customers. Intellectual property rights holders are essentially shifting the cost and burden of protecting their rights on to others, ultimately Internet users via domain name registrars.
IP Justice encourages ICANN to begin to understand its role in protecting the privacy rights of Internet users and refrain from imposing these chilling and one-sided policies on the world’s Internet users.