(No.118) Law Enforcement via Domain Names: Caveats to DNS Neutrality

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Status: 
Accepted
Workshop Theme: 
Security, Openness and Privacy
Theme Question: 

Questions 5

Concise Description of Workshop: 

In many countries, Internet domain names and addresses in the global Domain Name System (DNS) are more frequently used for legal enforcement purposes, such as anti-piracy and counterfeit, attacking cyber-crimes and prevent pornography and obscenity, etc. Under the law enforcement measures, a domain names may be ceased resolving, redirected to a new location (i.e. legal warning page from authority) or transferred to another party. When domain names are subject to intellectual property protection, anti-phishing, protection of public order or morality or any other legal enforcement purpose, information flow on the Internet will inevitably be affected. The critical issues herein are whether the law enforcement purposes are justified to utilize the means of domain names, whether such utilization would tamper the security, stability and integrity of the Internet communications, and whether enforcement via DNS would become a short-cut to suppress free speech and other human rights without the sufficient legal supervision and check-and-balance mechanism. In addition, legal enforcement via DNS is a caveat that enforcement measures are penetrating from the application level through ISPs deep down to critical Internet resource level through domain name registries and registrars. After ISPs have been commonly used for taking down contents and even policing their network, it seems the turn of domain name registries and registrars to join the "private" enforcement model. However, apart from the domain name strings, do domain name registries and registrars have the expertise, resources and legal protection (such as safe harbor) to interfere the contents on the Internet? Shouldn't DNS neutrality be preserved against the aggressive legal enforcement advancement? The workshop will present a comparative study on these issues particularly from the prospective of the emerging global economies in Asia, such as India and China. Legal enforcement measures via DNS in these world-largest Internet communities would have note-worthy global impact.

Organiser(s) Name: 
  • Hong Xue, Director of Institute for the Internet Policy & Law (IIPL), Beijing Normal University, Academia, Asia Pacific
  • Carlos Affonso Pereira de Souza, Vice-Coordinador, Center for Technology and
    Society at Getulio Vargas Foundation Law School (CTS/FGV), Brazil, Latin America
  • Bertrand de La Chapelle, Director of the Internet & Jurisdiction Project at the International Diplomatic Academy in Paris, France, Europe
  • Vivekanandan, Director of Global Internet Governance & Advocacy (GIGA), NALSAR University, Academia, Asia Pacific
  • Leo Liu, Chinese Domain Name Users Alliance, Civil Society, Asia Pacific
Submitted Workshop Panelists: 

 Agenda and Confirmed Panelists

  • Hong Xue, Director of Institute for the Internet Policy & Law (IIPL), Beijing Normal University, Academia, Asia Pacific  (confirmed)

  Topic: Law Enforcement Measures through ccTLDs

  • Carlos Affonso Pereira de Souza, Vice-Coordinador, Center for Technology and Society at Getulio Vargas Foundation Law School (CTS/FGV), Brazil, Latin America (confirmed)

   Topic: Civil Society's Role in Law Enforcement

  • Bertrand de La Chapelle, Director of the Internet & Jurisdiction Project at the International Diplomatic Academy in Paris, France, Europe (confirmed)

   Topic: Law Enforcement and Jurisdiction

  • Vivekanandan, Director of Global Internet Governance & Advocacy (GIGA), NALSAR University, Academia, Asia Pacific  (confirmed)

   Topic: Intermediary Liability in India

  • N. Ravi Shanker, Addl. Secretary, DOT, Government of India, Asia Pacific (confirmed)

    Topic: Governmental Role in Law Enforcement

  • Mr. Keith Davidson, Vice Chair, Asia Pacific Top Level Domain Association, Asia-Pacific (confirmed)

   Topic: InternetNZ Principles for ccTLDs
 

Name of Remote Moderator(s): 
Jing Ma, China Science and Technology Association
Gender Report Card
Please estimate the overall number of women participants present at the session: 
About half of the participants were women
Report
Reported by: 
Hong Xue, Organizer and Moderator of the Workshop
A brief substantive summary and the main issues that were raised: 

 

(No.118) Law Enforcement via Domain Names: Caveats to DNS Neutrality

 

November 8, 2012, 11:00-12:30; Room 1

 

We had a multi-stakeholder panel, with ccTLD managers, academics and civil society activities. It

was also geo-graphically diversified panel with panelists from Brazil, Russia, India, China and

France. So we called it BRIC+ discussion.

 

The Panel primarily talked about how Internet domain names and IP addresses are growingly

being used for legal enforcement purposes, such as anti-piracy and counterfeit, anti-cyber-crimes,

anti-pornography and IPR protection, in many jurisdictions.

 

Under the law enforcement measures, a domain names may be ceased resolving, redirected to a new location (i.e. legal warning page from authority) or transferred to another party. The Panel compared the respective laws, policies and practices in Brazil, Russia, India and China with respect to DNS filtering. The Panel noted that the study on DNS filtering in ccTLD name space is underdeveloped and much needed. Although most ccTLDs in these countries don’t making content filtering policy or take down or filter domain names by themselves, they would definitely enforce the decisions from domestic public authorities (i.e. court orders and/or administrative decisions). Some ccTLD would even fast track the law enforcement requests from foreign authorities. 

Conclusions and further comments: 

 

All the Panelists strongly concerned the negative impact of DNS filtering on free speech and free flow of information on the Internet as well as on Stability and Security of Domain name system. The Panel was against to use DNS as a control panel for content regulation. The Panel also addressed the danger of segregation or differentiation of Internet traffic in different territories. The Panel believes states should exercise their sovereignty carefully so as not to restrict cyber-travel in the truthfully globalized and

borderless network.