The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement may intervene in key aspects of the governance of the Domain Name System, according to a leaked draft of the treaty’s intellectual property chapter.
Provisions to extend copyright terms, ban DRM circumvention, and introduce whistleblower busting trade secrets protections have all caused dismay among digital rights campaigners. However, the treaty contains measures that may cause concern among ISPs as well.
The TPP attempts to circumvent ongoing debates about privacy and WHOIS, by mandating in relation to ccTLDs that the signatory countries should make available:
online public access to a reliable and accurate database of contact information concerning domain-name registrants;
The trade agreement also mandates that signatory countries implement:
an appropriate procedure for the settlement of disputes, based on, or modelled along the same lines as, the principles established in the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy, or that is: (i) designed to resolve disputes expeditiously and at low cost, (ii) fair and equitable, (iii) not overly burdensome, and (iv) does not preclude resort to court litigation.
More worrying than the content of this provision is the way it seeks to bypass the multi-stakeholder processes that currently govern the provision of WHOIS databases.
The TPP’s prescription of rules for domain names completely disregards the fact that most country code domain registries have their own, open, community-driven processes for determining rules for managing domain name disputes. More than that, this top-down rulemaking on domain names is in direct contravention of the U.S. administration’s own firmly-stated commitment to uphold the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance.
— Jeremy Malcolm, Senior Global Policy Analyst, Electronic Frontiers Foundation
While the TPP only directly affects the twelve Pacific Rim countries that are due to sign the agreement, it can be expected to influence future trade agreements in other parts of the world.
For more information, see: The Final Leaked TPP Text Is All That We Feared – EFF