ICANN Confirms That It's Going To Make It Easier For Governments To Seize Domains Around The Globe

from the not-cool,-icann dept

This just gets worse and worse. After pointing out that ICANN was missing a big (and important) opportunity by not speaking out against governments seizing domain names, we were disappointed to see ICANN release a white paper that was more of a how-to manual for governments on seizing domains. Now, Paul Keating points us to the depressing news that ICANN is now publicly saying that it will work more closely with governments around the world to help them seize and censor domains. The writeup is a little vague, but it says that seizing domains for copyright infringement was a “hot topic” at ICANN’s recent meeting — including promises from ICANN that it would work more closely with law enforcement around the globe and the various registrars to help law enforcement be more effective in censoring these websites. This is really unfortunate and once again highlights ICANN’s uselessness in protecting the internet. Instead, it appears to be actively working against basic internet principles.

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Comments on “ICANN Confirms That It's Going To Make It Easier For Governments To Seize Domains Around The Globe”

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90 Comments
Sneeje (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m inclined to agree. This is written about a lot on this site and we all see it, but I am continuously amazed by how blind people are to only the perceived benefits of their actions and not the side-effects or unintended consequences.

We’ve read over and over again about how other countries (China, Italy, France, etc.) have problems (pick one) with many of the major US Internet companies. Do we really believe that the only seizures are going to be of comepiratethis.com?

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

This will be used in a very anti-competitive way much like the DMCA take downs are. Once that happens other nations will to take control of their own DNS. There will be a split in the DNS. Then the “Geeks” will get involved, standards will happen, and it will be removed from government control.

The internet is built on trust relationships, who do you think people and corporations will go to in the end? Gov or geek?

Sneeje (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Completely agree–ICANN is being very foolish here. They will very much rue placing themselves in the middle of the inevitable disputes. And the minute they are perceived as either not handling them timely or not handling them consistently (or both), the power will be yanked from them and likely handed to someone else which will invariably be worse for the rest of us I imagine.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It is more under corporate control than government already. But what would the difference be, exactly?

Also, there are, and have been since the dawn of the public internet, alternate roots for DNS. Not very successful, but they already exist. Use them if you want to support them.

Best wishes on seeing an internet controlled by “people”.

Sneeje (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You’re focusing too narrowly. The dispute is not entirely, central control versus “people” control. It is, abusive control versus control that is resilient to abuse.

That is a much more nuanced issue and is what we’re trying to get at here. If ICANN established (and adhered to) some principles that acknowledged that the internet exists for the benefit (and not just economic) of all not the few and established methods for equitable (and not just equitable for those with money) dispute resolution, there might less of an issue.

If the goal is for governments and MNCs to gain control over the internet, then other options WILL arise because there will exist an unmet need (a need that has existed since forever) to communicate, innovate, and share culture freely.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Diaspora

And people should have the freedom to choose a different DNS network than the default one.

This has always been a weakness of the system – and one that has been discussed for many many years. The only saving grace was that no government was trying to break the DNS system enough to force people to find alternatives, and now that’s starting to disintegrate.

If they had just left it alone, nobody would have wanted to choose an alternate network, and now everyone is considering it.

Who will you trust? The government-censored system?

It’s going to take us back to the “internet dark ages”, and the politicians could give a shit less while they try to censor this “wild west”. They have no idea what they’re unleashing.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Diaspora

t is one thing to say you are getting started on a alternate DNS system and another to actually do it.

There is still activity on the p2p DNS SourceForge site. It really isn’t a replacement DNS, but it will create it’s own distributed TLD (.p2p) that isn’t under the control of any one government or entity.

http://p2pdns.sourceforge.net/

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Diaspora

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_DNS_root

NameCoin

Retroshare also may use some sort of URI system since they do have the ability to have forums so it must have a way to route that anonymously.

GNUNet does have their own URI system and so do TOR.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnunet
https://www.torproject.org/download/download-easy.html.en
After downloading the TOR Bundle you can use the onions.

http://eqt5g4fuenphqinx.onion/

There is also I2P
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.i2p

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Diaspora

“Then, from the people there rose up the private DNS server networks, ignoring the ignoble stupidty of ICANN.
And there was much rejoicing.”

Then you were the victim of a man in the middle attack, lost all your savings, and wonder why the fuck you ever bothered.

The cure is way worse than the cause.

aldestrawk says:

Re: Re: Vague, and wrong

Kevin is right. The article mentions copyright infringement and domain seizures but the core of the article is a discussion of a session between the ICANN board and ICANN’s GAC which covered 12 recommendations by law enforcement authorities. You can read a summary of the 12 recommendations here:
http://www.icann.org/en/resources/registrars/raa/raa-negotiations-progress-report-01mar12-en.pdf

None of them deal directly with domain seizures or copyright. The Computerworld article mentions one of them:

Some of the 12 recommendations relating to registrar agreements was inclusion of a clause that holds registrars responsible through negligence for registering domains engaging in criminal activity.

Sure, this is related to enforcing copyright but does not discuss it or how enforcement will happen. The other recommendations deal with the registrars authenticating domain buyers and increased accountability in this whole process. I believe the mention of copyright and domain seizures was a poor journalistic attempt to tie-in what was currently a very public controversy involving ICANN.

aldestrawk says:

Re: Re:

You are on to something here. I am sure there are a lot of behind the scenes battles. ICANN exists because it was a step the US had to take to mollify international interests and their effort to put the IANA function under international control (e.g. ITU). ICANN has just had their arm publicly and painfully twisted by DOC NTIA and yet the pressure is still building from countries who want to see the IANA function more independent from US control. The root (pun intended) cause here is using DNS as a tool for controlling copyright infringement, speech, and lawlessness in general on the Internet. In a way, ICANN is stuck in the middle and it’s role has become that of a whipping boy.

Anonymous Coward says:

“we were disappointed”

Why exactly? You Mike? The IT world expected this, and knew it would happen any day now. No one is disapointed, we knew it all along. ICANN is a private govt funded entity. They reply on it to exist (close to billions of dollars) so it’s only logical that they will do their bidding.

Another argument to decentralize everything, but more importantly remove it from USA control, government or not.

Anonymous Coward says:

“This is really unfortunate and once again highlights ICANN’s uselessness in protecting the internet.”

Actually, I think it is proof that they are trying to find a balance between “anything goes, we won’t look” and the lock down mentality that you seem to fear.

There are just way too many people out there breaking the law, because they think they are safe or hidden by the internet. That isn’t fair for people who follow the law, and operate within it.

It’s not just a question of making copyright holders happy, but also in dealing with the real business issues that face internet startups who may not make it because they cannot compete with illegal sites.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There are just way too many people out there breaking the law, because they think they are safe or hidden by the internet. That isn’t fair for people who follow the law, and operate within it.

Wait. I think your view is a bit distorted because you see the word “internet”.

There are also way too many people speeding on our freeways because they think they won’t get caught. That isn’t really fair to those who drive the speed limit and have to spend more of their time driving, is it? No one is out there advocating that we limit all the freeway access ramps to “approved” drivers are they?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Your speeding on the highway doesn’t change my life. You are missing the key connections.

What you are missing is that many startups are missing out because they either cannot sell the products for a reasonable price, or cannot extract enough value from their presentation / distribution to make it work out. They cannot do it because they are specifically competing with the same product being given away for free.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

What you are missing is that many startups are missing out because they either cannot sell the products for a reasonable price, or cannot extract enough value from their presentation / distribution to make it work out. They cannot do it because they are specifically competing with the same product being given away for free.

Are you new to this site? One can absolutely compete with free.

If a startup relies on an artificial monopoly in order to be successful, then I view that as a poor business model to begin with. I certainly wouldn’t invest in them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Oh, don’t point at a Techdirt opinion piece and expect me not to rip you a new eye hole. Come off it.

You don’t compete with free. You go find another business that can’t be ripped off as easily, and call it even.

That’s why musicians are playing mini-putt for a living, because clearly being a musician is useless.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“If a startup relies on an artificial monopoly in order to be successful, then I view that as a poor business model to begin with. I certainly wouldn’t invest in them.”

BULLSHIT STRAWMAN!

Nobody wants a monopoly – just nobody wants to compete with their own product given away for free by someone who isn’t paying for it to start with. That’s not a question of monopoly, that’s a question of right and wrong.

You are incredible dense if you cannot see the difference.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Says the incredibly dense person that doesn’t actually understand what “strawman” means.

If you don’t want a monopoly, then forgo copyright and patent protection. If you don’t believe those are monopolies, then I guess the whole part about them being an “exclusive legal right” is lost on you.

Competing on price is a loser’s bet, unless you can do something no one else can. Every business school, business book, economics book, etc. will tell you that.

“…nobody wants to…”
Nobody wants to really work for a living either, yet that is the fate of the 99%, sorry. Just because you create, does not mean you get paid–you have to offer a reason to buy that your competitors do not.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Wanting should have nothing to do with anything a granted monopoly is a horrible thing and everybody knows that, now why should any business get a monopoly for anything?

They shouldn’t, the lack of a granted monopoly didn’t stop McDonalds from becoming the 4th largest employer in the world, it didn’t stop million dollar open source companies from appearing either, it also didn’t stop the fashion industry, so we all just know you are full of shit.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Nobody wants a monopoly…

Copyright IS an artificial monopoly.

…just nobody wants to compete with their own product given away for free by someone who isn’t paying for it to start with.

Then don’t compete with it. Use the non-scarce as a loss leader to sell the scarce. Look, you can spend all your time and energy trying to fight illegal copying, but it isn’t going to go away – just about everyone has a digital copying machine in their pocket or purse nowadays. Thirty years of escalating copyright laws haven’t even dented the surface of piracy.

That’s not a question of monopoly, that’s a question of right and wrong.

You are somewhat right. There’s no question that copyright is a government enforced monopoly. As for the rest of that sentence, you are talking morals and I don’t argue morals because they are personal and subjective. What I may think is immoral, you might not and vice versa.

DigitalDao (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“What you are missing is that many startups are missing out because they either cannot sell the products for a reasonable price, or cannot extract enough value from their presentation / distribution to make it work out. They cannot do it because they are specifically competing with the same product being given away for free.”

1) What startups are you talking about? Do you mean hypothetical startups?

2) If a startup is failing because because it’s trying to sell something that its prospective customers can already get for free the problem is not that people can get it for free.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Of course completely ignoring two additional facts: that doesn’t prevent illegal behavior and you don’t get your privilege revoked without due process.

Don’t know why you believe that you are entitled to “due process” within TOS. If you pay your credit card late they add a penalty, jack your rate and even lower your available credit.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There are just way too many people out there breaking the law, because they think they are safe or hidden by the internet.

Maybe so, maybe not — but this action won’t affect that at all. People can, and will, be just as “safe” and “hidden” as they are now.

It’s not just a question of making copyright holders happy, but also in dealing with the real business issues that face internet startups who may not make it because they cannot compete with illegal sites.

That’s not just wrong, but backwards. It decreases the integrity of DNS, and makes it easier for competitors harm startups by causing them to lose their domain names.

At the same time, it won’t significantly impact piracy. There is no upside to this for startups. The only upside is for governments and major corporate interests.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Alternate DNS Not Likely

A dark net or alternate DNS system could be stymied pretty fast by simply enacting a law saying that every ISP filter out all but DNS requests made to their own servers.

They would have to outlaw VPN’s first. And that won’t happen anytime soon since so many businesses and government entities rely on them for secure encrypted communication.

Overcast (profile) says:

A dark net or alternate DNS system could be stymied pretty fast by simply enacting a law saying that every ISP filter out all but DNS requests made to their own servers.

But could DNS be considered ‘free speech’? It should be.

Something like that would kill a legit service like OpenDNS that many people use to filter out content. I use OpenDNS to keep my kids and their friends off of objectionable sites – including many torrent sites – how would that help the industry?

Who can define why I may use an OpenDNS type of system – perhaps it’s for education, work, or research?

What if someone copy wrote/trademarked their DNS system – then we start really opening up the Pandora’s box of questions.

Or maybe they would call it something other than DNS – then that law wouldn’t apply.

Or perhaps it could all be tunneled through SSL and the ISP wouldn’t even really know what the data contains.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“But could DNS be considered ‘free speech’? “

Nope. You are still free to enter the IP address of what you want, or to use other means to reach the destination site by doing DNS locally on your own machine. That is your choice. Your free speech rights are NOT limited because your ISP uses a mandated DNS, any more than your free speech rights are limited because TV stations can only broadcast on certain frequencies. It’s a rule of the road, nothing more.

You can come up with 1000 ways to get around it, but each one becomes more and more complicated, more and more prone to failure, and most importantly, more and more prone to man in the middle attacks or other mischief. You are a fool if you want to step out of the current DNS system to protect your right to rip off movies and music.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

You are a fool if you want to step out of the current DNS system to protect your right to rip off movies and music.

But am I a fool for stepping out of the current DNS to avoid other censorship? Because that’s what I would do. I don’t pirate, but I certainly will route around any of these blacklists and will help others to do the same.

V (profile) says:

“Your speeding on the highway doesn’t change my life. You are missing the key connections.

What you are missing is that many startups are missing out because they either cannot sell the products for a reasonable price, or cannot extract enough value from their presentation / distribution to make it work out. They cannot do it because they are specifically competing with the same product being given away for free.”

I love how people who know nothing and do nothing try to comment about things they know nothing about by reciting Big Media talking points.

I am an author. I sell books. I also sell software/phone apps. I also sell CD’s/DVD’s.

I have no problem competing against free. In fact, I never both to check to see if my products are pirated… I don’t care.

If someone pirates my books, CDs, apps, etc… that person has a much better chance to become a customer of my other products.

And if not, big deal… I’m always creating new streams of revenue.

I DON’T make one thing and then expect to sit back and reap the rewards for the rest of my unnatural life.

None of the great artists throughout history did. Did Mozart stop after his first symphony and expect to live on it for the rest of his life? Bach? Van Gogh? Shakespeare? Mark Twain? Robert Frost?

No, all great artists have one thing in common. They kept creating.

Coincidentally… so do I.

If you make something people find value in, they will buy it. Will some people pirate it? Sure… but either 1) They will become customers because they like it, or 2) They really wouldn’t have been customers anyway.

Piracy is the excuse of men with weak wills, weak imaginations, weak drive or all of the above.

And that’s from someone who KNOWS… because I DO it. Not because I’m reading some Big Corp’s talking points.

There are and always will be opportunities for intelligent, motivated people to make money.

Anyone who tells you differently is selling misery.

aldestrawk says:

Computerworld article is misleading

The Computerworld article this story referenced is a bit misleading. Domain seizure and copyright infringement were not directly discussed. The open session at ICANN’s recent board meeting was between the ICANN board and ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee (GAC). Some 12 recommendations, that came from law enforcement authorities were discussed. I list them below.

http://www.icann.org/en/resources/registrars/raa/raa-negotiations-progress-report-01mar12-en.pdf

LEA REQUEST 1:
(a)If ICANN creates a Privacy/Proxy Accreditation Service, Registrars will accept proxy/privacy registrations only from accredited providers;
(b) ?Registrants using privacy/proxy registration services will have authentic Whois information immediately published by Registrar when registrant is found to be violating terms of service?

LEA REQUEST 2:
To RAA paragraph 5.3.2.1, language should be added to the effect ?or knowingly and/or through gross negligence permit criminal activity in the registration of domain names or provision of domain name WHOIS information??

LEA REQUEST 3:
All Accredited Registrars must submit to ICANN accurate and verifiable contact details of their main operational and physical office location, including country, phone number (with international prefix), street address, city, and region, to be publicly disclosed in ICANN web directory. Address must also be posted clearly on the Registrar’s main website. Post Office boxes, incorporation addresses, mail-?‐drop, and mail-?‐forwarding locations will not be acceptable. In addition, Registrar must submit URL and location of Port 43 WHOIS server

LEA REQUEST 4:
Registrars must publicly display of the name of CEO, President, and/or other responsible officer(s).

LEA REQUEST 5:
Registrars with multiple accreditations must disclose and publicly display on their website parent ownership or corporate relationship, i.e., identify controlling interests.

LEA REQUEST 6:
Registrar will notify ICANN immediately of the following: a. Any and all changes to a Registrar?s location(s), office(s);
b. Changes to presiding officer(s);
c.Change in controlling ownership;
d. Any criminal convictions, and any civil convictions causal or related to criminal activity. Registrar will concurrently update their website upon notifying ICANN of (a)?(c) above.

LEA REQUEST 7:
Registrar should be legal entity within the country of operation, and should provide ICANN with official certification of business registration or license.

LEA REQUEST 8:
Reseller Accountability and disclosure obligations.

LEA REQUEST 9:
Registrar collection and maintenance of data on the persons initiating requests for registration, as well as source IP addresses and financial transaction information.

LEA REQUEST 10:
Validation of Whois data upon receipt from registrant

LEA REQUEST 11:
Registrar creation of an abuse point of contact, and provision of a well-?‐defined, auditable way to track complaints.

LEA REQUEST 12:
ICANN should require Registrars to have a Service Level Agreement for their Port 43 servers.

There was agreement in principle to every one of these recommendations except for request #9. In general, this deals with law enforcements ability to find and contact individual domain owners. It eliminates the ability to own a domain anonymously, that is anonymous from law enforcement. This could be a free speech issue. China has restricted registrars within China from allowing anonymous domain ownership. The other issue is making registrars liable for permitting criminal activity in the registration of domain names. It is not clear to me yet if this covers criminal activity by the domain owner in general related to using the domain. These are important issues but do not directly deal with domain seizure or copyright enforcement.

jsf (profile) says:

This kind of thing is nothing new really when it comes to ICANN. There have been many concerns about how they operate since the day ICANN was established. I remember many articles and editorials in the late 90’s about the board member’s were selected, the lack of transparency in their operations, and the fact that many of their policies really only benefited large business.

Anonymous Coward says:

The piracy debate is a waste of time and eventually will be stopped using deep packet inspection, fines and the simple fact that you cannot trust warez or even some pdf’s. One of the biggest problems of the whole “piracy debate” is the inability of piracy advocates to honestly discuss the problems that piracy has caused creating an environment that leads people to resort to extreme measures such as DPI and fines. Piracy has also created an environment where “free” software is heavily embedded with tracking code that harvests personal information and sold for much more then most people realize. Selling software is no longer necessary because tracking is where the money is and “most people will probably just pirate the software anyway”. The Internet will be better if piracy and tracking are controlled and kept at a minimum instead of the way they both exist today. Keep in mind that Open Source software is completely different then pirated pay-software and the huge market for pirated warez only reinforce the idea that pay-software still has real value. Open Source software also has value however its value compared to pay-software is a completely different discussion.

Joe says:

Re: Re:

You’re new to this whole Internet thing, aren’t you? Not to be insulting, but there’s some rather easy ways to get around even the ‘magical silver bullet DPI’ if you don’t want to be spied upon, yet alone do anything illegal. (Although some want to make privacy itself, illegal) I2P, Freenet, and so on, all have to be blocked 100% or not at all. It’s “all or nothing” in other words. It’s easy to get ahold of a list of user’s IP addresses and block them all from being reached by your customers, but then you’ve blocked all the non-infringing traffic as well. Some places have already used the sledgehammer (well more, atom bomb) tactic of blocking/throttling SSL and other encrypted traffic to the point of uselessness for online banking. We’re talking speeds less than 1KB/second, packets or entire sessions randomly dropping, altering unencrypted connections to the same IP address, faking TCP “resets”, and so on. DPI was supposed to let them keep doing that but not block the banking sites. :/

Jim Trengrove says:

ICANN's role

There?s an important point that needs to be restated here concerning ICANN?s role in domain name seizures – it doesn?t have a role, and that?s by design. ICANN exists to coordinate the domain name system and its technical underpinnings. It doesn?t decide issues of content. ICANN won?t enforce nor prevent a site seizure, nor could it. Those decisions are made by law enforcement and the governments they represent. If you don?t like the laws your government is enforcing, work inside its legal framework to change them.

And you can speak out within ICANN as well. ICANN frequently opens public forums online for transparent discussions about all issues affecting the Internet. And the public forum at our international meetings invites anyone (you have to register to attend, but it?s free) to comment on anything internet-related. If you can?t attend in person, do so remotely. You can submit your comment online. Keep it within the boundaries of civility and we?ll read out it in real time and give members of ICANN?s Board a chance to respond. Our next meeting is in Prague in June, so show up ? one way or another.

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