Thursday, 9 February 2006

Sex.com

Congratulations to freelance investigative journalist Kieren McCarthy on signing a contract for the publication of his forthcoming book, "Sex.com".

I met Kieren as the only other person to set foot in the press room -- scrupulously avoided by any ICANN staff, although it did provide me with a more comfortable and undisturbed place to write than the hostel where I was staying -- at ICANN's most recent meeting in Vancouver.

Kieren is uniquely qualified to tell this continuing saga to a larger public than has followed it through his articles in "The Register" (UK).

Those who wonder what I mean by "reading law for fun" should sample the first half of the decision in one of the Sex.com lawsuits by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. I expect Kieren's book to be even more entertaining than Judge Kozinski's recitation of the legally relevant portion of the factual history.

Mind you, there is no sex in this story (at least none in any of Kieren's published articles to date) -- although there is swindling, shootouts with Mexican bounty-hunters, colorful characters , battles for control of everything from secret overseas bank accounts to a Southern California mansion, and a whole lot of money.

And, lest I forget, this is a story about Internet governance: how the operators of the central registry of domain names (under contract to the government of the USA) transferred the Internet's most valuable domain name away from its rightful owner, and then refused to accept any responsibility for their actions. This is also a story of the lengths and personal expense to which that rightful owner had to go to obtain even a figment of "justice", and how he's still out tens of millions of dollars he is owed.

Perhaps that's why (aside from the missing sex) the story appeals to people like Kieren and me who are, at our own expense as freelancers, trying to expose the reality of Internet "governance" by cronyism and back-room deals, and how it affects even ordinary Internet users and those with less valuable domain names than Sex.com.

Let's hope some of those who buy the book for the promise of sex find in it a lesson: The procedures have changed slightly, but none of the fundamental causes of the Sex.com fiasco have been fixed. That would require, at minimum, a fundamentally different, and better, system of accountability and oversight .

Link | Posted by Edward on Thursday, 9 February 2006, 10:10 (10:10 AM) | TrackBack (0)
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