Oh Glorious Friday & The Implications of No Privacy

Due to the impending holiday weekend, the flood of work to do, and the exhaustion of this developer, I'm writing on something totally unrelated to CaseySoftware, dotProject, Mantis, the general software topics I discuss. This time I'll be straying into a bit of politics.

Bob Parsons, the CEO of GoDaddy.com, has his own blog. GoDaddy is the company that put together the Super Bowl ad with the brunette woman in the tank top and pulled a Janet Jackson… well, you'd remember it if you saw it.

Anyway, the point is that that Bob has been railing against the NTIA recently for a very good reason: “National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA – http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ ) ruled, without hearings of any kind, that private domain name registrations for .US domains will no longer be allowed“. And then Bob describes the implications of this.

For years now, people who register domain names have been able to put in any address that they want. For example, there are an absurd number of domain names that are registered to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Since this information is public, it is regularly mined by spammers, junk mailers, and other scum of the earth in order to harass people about “the greatest opportunity ever”. GoDaddy, after getting a concerned call from a customer who was being stalked, started obfuscating this information. They kept the complete information on file, but instead of releasing this publicly, they submitted the name of a holding company for expressly this purpose. In one fell swoop, they cut off the spammers, scammers, and stalkers at the knees, improved the reliability of their data, and created a simple competitive advantage over other registrars. On the other hand, some registrars simply submit the credit card billing information as is… which provides highly accurate information to the spammers, scammers, and stalkers.

Bob points out that by passing this edict, instead of making the Internet a safer place, they've just driven more people underground. If you're a criminal, there is nothing to stop you from providing false information. If you're an otherwise upstanding citizen who just wants some privacy, there is nothing to stop you from providing false information.

All this does is put small businesses and home-based businesses at serious risk because now anyone can find out your exact address. If you're as concerned about this as I am, please contact your House Members and Senators.