Home / Blogs

The Globe on Terror Goes Digital

The Globe and Mail published an embarrassing feature story on the weekend focusing on terror groups’ use of the Internet and a “Canadian connection.” A story on terror group use of the Internet would have made for an interesting (albeit unoriginal) story, so it appears that the Globe tried to generate greater interest in the story by adding a Canadian connection. The article begins with “Welcome to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia - pivotal battleground in the global jihad.”

Why does the Globe think Yarmouth is a pivotal battleground in the global jihad? Because Register.com, a leading domain name registrar, uses Yarmouth as the base for those want to register domain names anonymously. It is difficult to overstate the extent to which this claim is misguided.

First, just because the registrant information is not posted publicly on the WHOIS database, does not mean that the information has not been collected. Indeed, the information is collected by the registrar (along with payment information) and can be accessed by law enforcement under the appropriate circumstances (typically a court order). In other words, these are not untrackable domains, but rather domains that shield the identity of the registrant from broad public view, akin to an unlisted phone number.

Second, offering proxy or anonymous registrations is not a Canadian issue at all. Dozens of domain name registrars around the world offer the same services. To suggest that this is a Canadian-specific issue is very misleading.

Third, the article mistakenly states that the terror sites reside on servers in Yarmouth. Of course, that is simply not the case - the location of a domain name registration need not have any connection with the location of a web server that actually hosts the site.

Fourth, it is telling that the story does not include a single mention of WHOIS related issues, including the long policy process aimed at providing registrants with greater privacy protection (and thereby eliminating the need for these services).

For a paper of the Globe’s calibre, this is inexcusable.

By Michael Geist, Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law

Filed Under


Comment Title:

  Notify me of follow-up comments

We encourage you to post comments and engage in discussions that advance this post through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can report it using the link at the end of each comment. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of CircleID. For more information on our comment policy, see Codes of Conduct.

CircleID Newsletter The Weekly Wrap

More and more professionals are choosing to publish critical posts on CircleID from all corners of the Internet industry. If you find it hard to keep up daily, consider subscribing to our weekly digest. We will provide you a convenient summary report once a week sent directly to your inbox. It's a quick and easy read.

I make a point of reading CircleID. There is no getting around the utility of knowing what thoughtful people are thinking and saying about our industry.

Co-designer of the TCP/IP Protocols & the Architecture of the Internet




Sponsored byVerisign

Domain Names

Sponsored byVerisign

New TLDs

Sponsored byRadix

Brand Protection

Sponsored byCSC

IPv4 Markets

Sponsored byIPv4.Global

Threat Intelligence

Sponsored byWhoisXML API


Sponsored byDNIB.com