from the a-very-real-threat dept
As we wrote at the time, even though the critic had used Register.com's privacy guard tool, when Carreon showed up, the company coughed up his identity, and Carreon used that to threaten the critic, making it quite clear that he was doing so just to piss off the critic. In a letter to the critic's lawyer, Paul Levy at Public Citizen, Carreon noted "there is essentially no statute of limitations on this claim" and "I have the known capacity to litigate appeals for years." Eventually, Carreon was forced to cough up money for the bogus legal threats.
Gellis was co-counsel with Levy in defending Carreon's critic and her Popehat post details how that experience makes it even clearer as to just how bad ICANN's proposal is:
If you haven't yet seen it, that icann.wtf letter to ICANN is worth reading. It's not only a rare case where anti-harassment advocates and free speech advocates can actually come together and agree on a really, really bad idea, but it lays out the arguments for why this Hollywood-backed proposal is just incredibly stupid and dangerous.
It is a proposal that is extraordinarily glib about its consequences for any Internet speaker preferring not to be dependent on another domain host for their online speech. First, it naively pre-supposes that the identifying information of a domain name holder would only ever be used for litigation purposes, when we sadly already know that this presumption is misplaced. As this letter to ICANN points out (linked to from the independently expressive domain name “icann.wtf”), people objecting to others’ speech often use identifying information about Internet speakers to enable campaigns of harassment against them, sometimes even with the threat of life and limb (for example, by “swatting”).
Secondly, it pre-supposes that even if this identifying information were to be used solely for litigation purposes that a lawsuit is a negligible thing for a speaker to find itself on the receiving end of, when of course it is not. In the case of Carreon’s critic he was fortunate to be able to secure pro bono counsel, but not everyone can, and having to pay for representation can often be ruinously expensive.
Thirdly it pre-supposes that there is somehow an IP-related exemption to the First Amendment, when there most certainly is not. Speech is speech and it is all protected by the First Amendment. Attempts to carve out exemptions from its protections for speech that somehow implicates IP should not be tolerated, particularly when the consequences to discourse are just as damaging to speech chilled by IP owners as they are by anyone else seeking to suppress what people may say.
If you want to contact ICANN to explain why this policy is a problem please do so today -- as it's the last day they're accepting comments on the proposal.