July 03, 2003

Says it all really

From Milton Mueller on ICANNWatch, a quote on the ongoing privacy debate surrounding access to the WHOIS database.

“Legal process is an impediment to law enforcement.”
—John LoGalbo, U.S. Department of Justice, explaining why law enforcement needs to keep all WHOIS data public as an alternative to subpoenas or other verification mechanisms.

This is a burning issue in debates over ICANN. Law enforcement, intellectual property rights (IPR) people and much of the business lobby are lined up on one side, and data protection authorities and privacy advocates are on the other. But the quote from the law enforcement people has wider implications; it speaks to an attitude that applies across many contemporary issues in which law enforcement interests are pitted against broader social concerns .

In fairness, legal process can indeed be an impediment to criminal investigations (that’s kind of the idea), and quoting the DoJ rep outside the context of whatever else he might have said, is almost a parody of the law enforcement argument.

But what’s not at all clear from the DoJ is why they would want WHOIS information to be public instead of a provision for proper access procedures, when law enforcement authorities have a real need for the data. It suggests that they’re trying to stitch things up with their new friends in the IPR community by keeping the way open for civil procedures, and not just criminal investigations. For those who are interested, ICANN had a series of meetings last week in Montreal. The WHOIS issue will be considered by a steering committee which will report to the ICANN board at its next meeting.

One of the main outcomes at ICANN last week was an agreement that should help to bind the fractious ccTLDs to the organisation. There’s plenty that’s wrong with this relationship, but the alternative seems to be the International Telecommunications Union, which is trying to entice the ccTLDs into its beckoning arms. ICANN’s not really my thing, but it seems to me that having the ccTLDs go elsewhere, and to a hidebound international treaty organisation at that, wouldn’t much help the Internet to run smoothly and adapt quickly to change.

Lawrence Solum blogged the ICANN Montreal meetings - well worth a look.

Posted by Maria at July 3, 2003 11:55 AM | TrackBack

I watch big brother

Posted by: Michael at October 21, 2003 06:52 AM

thank’s for info regards

Posted by: Gerry Osborn at December 27, 2003 10:06 PM
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