In this month’s VoM, we highlight Dave Clark’s recent presentation, concerning the role of the IETF in Internet protocols and human rights, made to the plenary at IETF 98 in Chicago. Clark reflects on the recent efforts proposing guidelines for human rights considerations in IETF standards work. He recalls earlier efforts (RAVEN) to prevent legal intercept requirements from being standardized by the IETF, and compares that to other SDOs like 3GPPP which took a more active role to facilitate demands of LEAs. He concludes with strong support for the use of human rights as a foundational value in considering technological design considerations, but asks do we design for a preferred outcome and let the “tussle” happen in a way which we have little control, or do we design for a range of outcomes some which we (individually or collectively) may not prefer?

PuntCAT under fire: Internet vs political identities

Spain is undergoing a traumatic crackdown on freedom of expression, as part of a larger political convulsion over the Catalan province’s attempt to hold a binding referendum on independence. As one resident tweeted:

Webs R closed or blocked. Media are summoned not 2 “inform” about referendum. Anybody expressing support [for the referendum] is threatened w criminal charges.

The Catalan referendum is scheduled to take place on October 1st, but a ruling from the Constitutional Court of Spain annulled the Catalonian Parliament resolution implementing the vote. Section 2 of the Spanish Constitution asserts “the indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation, the common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards;” but it also “recognizes and guarantees the right to self-government of the nationalities and regions of which it is composed and the solidarity among them all.”

One of the key targets of this crackdown is the .CAT top level domain. Continue reading

Smearing Section 230: A counterattack

Recently, the Internet Association, a trade group for online service providers, introduced a praiseworthy idea into the NAFTA re-negotiation. It asked for the revised trade agreement to include a principle that online platform providers should be immunized from liability for the content that some of their users post. As the IA put it,

NAFTA should prohibit governments from making online services liable for third-party content. Mexico and Canada lack a clear legal principle like Section 230, creating increased risks for U.S. internet service exporters. In fact, Mexico has proposed increasing liability for e-commerce companies.

Section 230 is widely credited with enabling innovative, free and open online services. Sadly, however, it’s become impossible to talk about Section 230 without also talking about human trafficking, and in particular sex trafficking of minors.

Child sex trafficking and Section 230? How on earth did these two things become linked? That’s a long story – and unfortunately, it’s a story of conscious media manipulation, politicized “facts,” and intellectual dishonesty in the service of an ideological construct. Continue reading

After Charlottesville: Registrars, content regulation and domain name policy

The Internet governance implications of Charlottesville are becoming clearer. When a white supremacist protest resulted in the murder of Helen Heyer, the Daily Stormer published repugnant, hate-filled content about her on its website. This provoked numerous Internet service providers (domain name registrars, DNS proxy services, a DDoS mitigation service and a hosting provider) to terminate Daily Stormer’s services for a variety of alleged Terms of Service (ToS) violation(s). Attempts to register new related domains in different TLDs (e.g., or similar strings (e.g., are being refused or similarly met with termination of service. Until recently, the Daily Stormer website was only accessible on the “dark web” via a .onion address.

Is this all to the good, an example of how the Internet’s private actor-driven governance model responds to abuse and problems on the web? Or is it a worrisome deviation from net neutrality that may come back to bite us? We’ve been following these developments, and in this post we look more closely at the role of domain name registrars and policies in regulating content and domain names.

Continue reading