09 October 2006

They Can Because ICANN

The court case against Spamhaus is outrageous on plenty of levels:

A lawsuit filed in an Illinois court by David Linhardt (aka e360 Insight LLC) against The Spamhaus Project Ltd., a British-based organisation over which the Illinois court had no jurisdiction, went predictably to default judgement when Spamhaus did not accept U.S. jurisdiction.

To get the 'SLAPP' lawsuit case accepted in Illinois, David Linhardt fabricated, under oath, that Spamhaus "operates business in Illinois". Illinois District Court Judge Charles Kocoras, although being aware Spamhaus was a UK non-profit organization, did not require any proof before ruling the UK organization to be in Illinois jurisdiction. Spamhaus in fact operates no business in the United States, has no U.S. office, agents or employees in Illinois or any other U.S. state.

The default judgement awards Linhardt, a one-man bulk email marketing outfit based in Chicago, compensatory damages totaling $11,715,000.00, orders Spamhaus to permanently remove Linhardt's ROKSO record, orders Spamhaus to lie by posting a notice stating that Linhardt is "not a spammer" and orders Spamhaus to cease blocking spam sent by Linhardt.

But one point which has only been mentioned in passing is that the latest threat of being suspended by ICANN is only possible because the latter is subject to US jurisdiction.

Which means that effectively US law is being imposed on the Internet, wherever people may be located. Which, in its turn, is yet another argument why ICANN needs to be pulled out of the US and situated somewhere less likely to be at the beck and call of courts in countries with histories of rampant litigation.

And no, I don't have any good suggestions where that location might be: any ideas?

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