March 30, 2004

Network Solutions' Legal Liability for Domain Info Masking?

Greetings. Network Solutions (and other registrars in various ways) have begun offering services to bypass ICANN's requirement for accurate domain holder information being listed in WHOIS.

While the issues of WHOIS information accuracy and availability vs. privacy are complex and controversial, NetSol's particular approach appears to trigger a number of interesting legal questions.

For an extra charge, NetSol will mask the contact e-mail address with an aliased address that changes at intervals, list their own po box for the physical address, and list a phone number that leads to a "no calls accepted" recording.

I do not see an obvious problem with their e-mail alias approach. However, their intercepting and opening of physical mail is a different matter, since it makes it impossible for senders of certified mail to be assured that the material ever reached the actual registrant, and of course the privacy of such mailings is lost. If confidential legal materials were involved, the issues could get very dicey.

Lack of an accurate phone number is also of great concern. In cases of network disruptions (either intentional or not) often the only recourse to restore normal services is to pick up the phone and call the person at the domain in question. Physical mail is too slow, and if systems are disrupted e-mail often won't work.

One also must wonder if NetSol really wants to interject themselves into the middle of legal and related communications involving spammers, pornographers, and others with less than pristine motives for wanting to hide their contact info -- the "John Smith" family who wants to protect their home address is not the major issue.

Finally, what actions will ICANN take to enforce both the letter and spirit of their rules in this regard, while these issues are being hashed out in various policy forums?


Posted by Lauren at 09:35 AM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein

March 27, 2004

TSA Cancels Flight Based on "Psychic Warning"

Greetings. The federal Transportation Security Administration on Friday searched an American Airlines plane in Florida, causing the flight's cancellation, after a warning from a self-described psychic. The search turned up nothing unusual.

The local TSA administrator explained the action by saying, "... in these times, we can't ignore anything."

It's good to know that TSA bases their operations on solid facts and hard science, since these are the same folks who are running the CAPPS II system for passenger profiling, and the upcoming system to allow "trusted travelers" to undergo less scrutiny at airport security checkpoints.

Perhaps soon TSA will lend out some of their experts to provide divining-rod training to drought-ridden communities around the country.


Posted by Lauren at 08:58 PM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein

March 25, 2004

Network Solutions' "A Sucker Born Every Minute" Domain Service

Greetings. When I first heard about this my initial reaction was that it must be a joke. Sadly, it is not. It appears we not only have to worry about spammers, scammers, and other illicit fraudsters on the Net, but now the vested, 800-pound gorilla of domain name registrations, Network Solutions (recently spun-off from our friends at VeriSign) has a new plan to try fleece the masses -- a "100 Year" domain registration service! I kid you not -- they're sending out the e-mails promoting this gem as I type these words.

Yes, boys and girls, just send Network Solutions your non-refundable renewal fee in the amount of $999, and they'll renew your domain every year for an Entire Century. Never mind that domain names and the Internet are unlikely to even exist as we know them now long before a hundred years have elapsed. Forget about the fact that Network Solutions itself, as well as everyone reading this message, are likely to have vanished from the scene well before 2104. For that matter, we'll be damn lucky if civilization still exists by that time.

It appears that we now have a new textbook definition of greed, along with treating the entire Internet community like a pack of imbeciles. But then, anyone who falls for Network Solutions' "No worries for 100 years" service will themselves have given new meaning to the concept of a sucker.


Posted by Lauren at 09:14 PM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein

Bush's Tasteless WMD Joke

Greetings. There's really nothing I can add to this story, other than my observation that Bush's willingness to present such a tasteless "joke" tells us far more about the true personality of the man than all of his speeches and campaign commercials ever could.


Posted by Lauren at 06:12 PM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein

March 07, 2004

PFIR Conference Announcement: "Preventing the Internet Meltdown"


People For Internet Responsibility (PFIR) is pleased to preliminarily announce an "emergency" conference aimed at preventing the "meltdown" of the Internet -- the risks of imminent disruption, degradation, unfair manipulation, and other negative impacts on critical Internet services and systems in ways that will have a profound impact on the Net and its users around the world.

PFIR is planning for this conference (lasting two or three days) to take place as soon as possible, ideally as early as this coming June, with all sessions and working groups at a hotel in convenient proximity to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

More details are at:

Together, we may be able to stop the Internet meltdown.
But we need to act now.


Posted by Lauren at 10:58 PM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein