CIRA’s Whois Debacle

I've written in the past about the hugely disappointing CIRA decision to backtrack on its WHOIS policy and create backdoor access for special interests.  CIRA has now posted the minutes (1, 2, 3) associated with the decision-making process and the deep divide within the board becomes immediately evident.  The minutes show a split board vote on the issue, two days of debate, supplementary comments from five board members explaining their vote, concerns about the lack of transparency, and a decision-making process that violated the central tenets of policy making. CIRA President Byron Holland argued that any delays would harm CIRA's credibility, though I'd argue the revised policy did that.  Perhaps most tellingly, the Government of Canada stepped in and left little doubt that it wanted to see exceptions created for law enforcement and intellectual property interests.  In the face of that pressure, a majority of CIRA's board caved. 

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  1. Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t agencies like the CIRA independent from the Government? The reason being so that the Government cannot influence the agency in any way like in a situation where the government has an agenda that’s being pressured by foreign corporations.

    The Conservative Government is proving itself to be more and more incompetent. It baffles me how they can get away with things. Things have always found a way of balancing themselves out though.

  2. I see from the minutes that it was Industry Canada pushing this access to personal information.
    I wonder just how many fingers Mr. Prentice has to be in so many pies….

  3. law I can understand, as long as there is a process i.e a warrant is required. Intellectual property interest, they should have to have a court order, after they have shown just cause.

  4. A warrant is a court order. The exception for law enforcement is, unfortunately, an exception over and above the normal process of obtaining a court order/warrant. There was never any question that CIRA would observe a warrant. They’re required to, obviously. This exception, however, suggests they’ll give in to demands from law enforcement that have never been vetted by a court for reasonableness.

  5. anon @ 10:24
    Yeah, I messed up explaining. If law enforcement has reasonable belief that it will prevent a crime etc… Then I think they should have the ability to do so without a warrant GIVEN that before they can use the information gathered (i.e. in court) they present the evidence to a judge and they rule that a warrent would have been granted on the evidence. This would be a bit of a sticky position, if the law enforcement can not prove the warrant would have been granted, they lose the evidence.
    This way law enforcment would only use it if the evidence is over whelming and there is a risk of harm to the public. (ok Maybe this sentence should be: This way law enforcment should only use it if…)

  6. It is probably a sign of good health that the CIRA Board would represent the wide range of strongly-held views on a topic such as this, which is proving to be a similarly-complex disciussion in quite a few countries.

    The original philosophy of the web is/was “transparency”, the theory that in the wide open frontier of cypberspace one of the positive constraints is the accountability that accompanies transparency: the notion that now that we can all be publishers if we choose, that we also get to see who is publishing and doing what. A terrific concept, no less enobled by the fact that in the real world, that desire for openness collides with those who would harvest our personal data for less altruistic pursuits. A shame.

    Meanwhile, on the other side of the transparency/privacy coin, we must also take care not to make the web the unbridled domain of miscreants, by going out of our way to afford them a sheltered place to pursue various kinds of malice in comforting anonymity.

    This whole topic is an evolving work in progress, in Canada and elsewhere. There are babies and bathwater here, a balance that needs to be shaped.

    Privacy is a good public goal, to be sure. So are transparency and accountability.

  7. Maupassant says:

    Well at least “” is consistent.

    If I say what I’m thinking Michael will just delete it.

    I’m sure “” would consider people going silent to be an ideal outcome.

  8. Anonymous says:

    who’s “”

  9. Anonymous says:

    CIRA and privacy
    Many years ago, CIRA went through the name field of .ca whois records looking for obvious pseudonyms, I was one they found. I could have used a not so obvious fake, like John Smith, but I chose to make my visitors aware as I’m a privacy advocate. They threatened to take away my domain. I called my registrar, we went to CIRA and argued that I would provide CIRA, any my registrar my real, personal information as long as what they posted publicly remained anonymous. CIRA not only declined, they took possession of my purchased intellectual property, forcing it to expire without me being able to access it.
    Less than two years later they offer an anonymous proxy service, thankfully in part I’m sure to PIPEDA. This was approximately 5 years ago, I’ve boycotted CIRA since because of their technical incompetence and disregard for privacy of their users.
    Fast forward to within the last month, I received a spam from CIRA; and the killer? It had the blatantly obvious pseudonym I had used years earlier as the real name field in my email address that they chose to send the spam too.
    CIRA is an embarrassment; I will continue to boycott .ca domains. It is unfortunate, as the technical competence in this country is amazing overall, it’s too bad we couldn’t be proud of our top level domain.