Boing-Boing editor Cory Doctorow caused a storm in a teacup yesterday, after he urged his legions of readers to complain to ICANN about copyright-based domain name seizures and the abolition of Whois privacy services in .net.
Neither change has actually been proposed.
Doctorow wrote: “Among the IPC’s demands are that .NET domains should be subject to suspension on copyright complaints and that anonymous or privacy-shielded .NET domains should be abolished.”
Neither assertion is accurate.
Nobody has proposed abolishing Whois privacy services. Nobody has proposed allowing VeriSign to seize domain names due to copyright infringement complaints.
What has happened is that ICANN’s Intellectual Property Constituency has asked ICANN to make the Uniform Rapid Suspension policy part of VeriSign’s .net contract.
URS is a variation of the long-standing UDRP cybersquatting complaints procedure.
It was created for the ICANN new gTLD Program and is intended to be cheaper and quicker for trademark holders than UDRP, designed to handle clear-cut cases.
While the URS, unlike UDRP, has a number of safeguards against abusive complaints – including an appeals mechanism and penalties for repeat reverse-hijacking trolls.
But the domainer community is against its introduction in .net because it has not yet been finalized – it could still be changed radically before ICANN approves it – and it is currently completely untested.
The IPC also asked ICANN and VeriSign to transition .net to a “thick” Whois, whereby all Whois data is stored at the registry rather than with individual registrars, and to create mechanisms for anybody to report fake Whois data to registrars.
Not even the IPC wants Whois privacy services abolished – chair Steve Metalitz noted during the Congressional hearing on new gTLDs last week that such services do often have legitimate uses.