Home / Blogs

Why Don’t GAC Representatives Follow Their Own National Law?

A few weeks ago ICANN’s domain name policy making organ (the GNSO) decided that the purpose of Whois was domain name coordination and not compulsory surveillance of domain name registrants. The US and Australian governments expressed their opposition.

The US government’s lack of concern for privacy is well known. But what about Australia? The Australian ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) representative, Ashley Cross, tried to use his authority as “a government” to intimidate the GNSO, sending it a message announcing that “Australia” supports a broader definition of Whois purpose that gives ICANN a blank check to provide free data mining services to trademark and copyright lawyers at the expense of user data protection. What does “Australia” really support, however? Here’s a radical idea: Let’s look at its own laws.

Take a look at the Australian national privacy principles under the heading “Use and disclosure.” They state: “An organisation must not use or disclose personal information about an individual for a purpose ...other than the primary purpose of collection…”

The law goes on to state that secondary use is allowed only if law enforcement agencies have a real reason “to suspect that unlawful activity has been, is being or may be engaged in, and uses or discloses the personal information as a necessary part of its investigation of the matter or in reporting its concerns to relevant persons or authorities” or is otherwise “required or authorized by or under law” following due process.

The Australian national privacy principles also state: “If an organisation uses or discloses personal information under paragraph (h), it must make a written note of the use or disclosure.”

So, at least in Australia, law enforcement activities are already covered under the privacy laws. What is not envisaged in the privacy laws is that the method to provide data to law enforcement should be via public publication. There is literally no practical way to restrict the subsequent “use” of data once it is published in the public.

In light of the above, is the Australia GAC representative contradicting Australia’s national policy or suggesting that its laws be changed?

Another interesting question is why the Australia GAC representative is supporting a policy that contradicts the policies of the .au ccTLD. .AU has a Whois policy and purpose that respects privacy. Is Mr. Cross criticizing his own country’s ccTLD policy? Is he suggesting that it be changed? If not, why should gTLDs be treated differently?

By Milton Mueller, Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology School of Public Policy

Filed Under

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.

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

Comments

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.

Related

Topics

Threat Intelligence

Sponsored byWhoisXML API

Domain Names

Sponsored byVerisign

IPv4 Markets

Sponsored byIPv4.Global

Cybersecurity

Sponsored byVerisign

Brand Protection

Sponsored byCSC