Network Solutions and Hoarding

Network Solutions, the monopolistic domain-name registrar and database holder now owned by VeriSign, has been keeping expired domain names off the market with the apparent intention of auctioning them off, according to critics.

The situation has attracted a lawsuit alleging illegal hoarding.

Network Solutions denies it’s doing anything of the sort. “We delete names as they expire” from the central database, says Doug Wolford, NSI’s group general manager of Web presence services.

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in this case. Someone’s not telling the truth.

A Privacy Fraud

Congress seems poised to pass a so-called “privacy bill” that prohibits the sale of Social Security numbers — except that the legislation is so ridden with loopholes that it actually makes the problem worse.

As the Washington Post reported yesterday, “One exception also would permit state and local governments to continue selling records containing Social Security numbers. The provision is worded in such a way that, critics say, it would allow businesses buying those records to use Social Security numbers with no legal restraints.”

This fraudulent reform is apparently being pulled off at the behest of the Individual Reference Services Group, made up of big marketers. These people are defending to the death their right to buy and sell your most personal information — and to deny you the right to have any authority to tell them to stop.

Meanwhile at the Justice Department…

Wall Street Journal: Computer-crime treaty evokes criticism from U.S. tech firms. Another provision outlaws possession, in some circumstances, of network-security tools that experts typically use to diagnose computer systems; authorities fear those tools could be used by hackers. The treaty also would require citizens to disclose passwords or unscrambling keys to unlock data police seize in criminal cases.

The Clinton administration’s outright hostility to civil liberties is on display again. These folks will do anything and go anywhere to defeat your rights in the name of security.

Not that a Republican administration would be much better…

On the Road

I’m heading to Maine for the Pop!Tect conference, subtitled “Being Human in the Digital Age” — a fascinating gathering of technology and the humanities. I’ll be moderating a panel with MIT’s Pattie Maes and author Ellen Ullman. Stay tuned for reports.

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