WHOIS and Prentice’s misuse and motives

Lynn Prentice (lprent) has tried to defend his abusive attack on a young person who was involved in a spoof political site, Kiwi-O-Meter, which has since been taken down by the site owner.

I think his excuses are disingenuous bull.

But there’s another thing that he hasn’t defended. I don’t think he can credibly defend it.

The title of Prentice’s post at The Standard shows it’s attacking and abusive intent – Ben Guerin: a dirty politics fuckwit.

Personal abuse from Prentice is normal, as is over-reacting. Less common is his use of a post to attack someone like this.But what stood out was his posting the personal contact details – email address, phone number and home address – of the target of his apparent anger.

While his intent in doing this could be argued Prentice applied strict moderation, personally clearing all comments, banning some commenters and admitting to trashing about 25% of comments. But Prentice passed this comment from Atiawa:

I just sent him a text letting him know what a shit head he is. Can’t see much harm in anyone else telling him the same.

So Prentice approved of the contact details he posted being used to abuse Guerin, and he approved the comment “Can’t see much harm in anyone else telling him the same”.

Prentice claims to be a Internet expert so he must have been aware of the possibility, even probability, that his publishing personal details would result in personal abuse.

And when challenged on his actions by ‘Izzy’…

I think it’s disappointing that you saw fit to publish his contact information, which apparently commentators here have now used to send him abusive messages.

He said something about your team that you didn’t like, which pissed you off, and that’s chill. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to like his politics, you’re allowed to question whether the site was made in a work capacity or done independently (which he has answered). But he doesn’t deserve the level of vitriol in this post, and he doesn’t deserve texts and emails telling him he’s a piece of shit. Being a Nat doesn’t make him immune to being hurt by this kind of thing. Be kind.

One of Prentice’s excuses was:

The “voitrol” was because he didn’t provide any information on the site to identify who was responsible for it.

That’s an interesting accusation.

If a person wanted to find out who was responsible for The Standard what would they find? Their about page specifically says they won’t identify themselves.

Why don’t you say who you are?

Some of the authors here use their real names, but others choose to blog anonymously for a variety of reasons. Some of us have professional reasons for doing so, others of us are reluctant to expose ourselves to the kind of personal threats sometimes made online. Those of us using pseudonyms discussed this issue long and hard before we began and came down on the side of anonymity. We hope you can see why. You might also want to contemplate the implications of this link.

If you want to get hold of us, have a look on the Contact Page.

The contact page also doesn’t identify who is responsible for the site. It gives two email addresses, but when i emailed one of them last week on a serious matter I didn’t get a reply.

So it appears that Prentice is applying one standard to Guerin, using it as an excuse to reveal personal contact details, but  ignoring that standard himself.

What Prentice has done looks like it could be a breach of conditions of use of the WHOIS look up – I detailed this in Prentice actions “strictly forbidden” by InternetNZ.

% Users are advised that the following activities are strictly forbidden.
%
% Using any information contained in the WHOIS query output to attempt a
% targeted contact campaign with any person, or any organisation, using any
% medium.

Prentice’s response to this:

Bearing in mind the gutless wonders that you and other people are about acting on your words, which in this case should be to make a complaint, I’ll write to InternetNZ – firstly asking them to inform me of any complaints (I anticipate none to date), and secondly asking for a ruling on what you fuckwits should be asking them based on your idiotic allegations.

If he thinks that the correct way to deal with misuse is to submit a complaint to InternetNZ why didn’t he do that regarding his complaint about Guerin rather than launching an online attack on him and not only deliberately or recklessly exposing him to abuse but also personally allowing abusive comments including a comment encouraging more abuse using the contact details posted.

Another double standard.

Prentice has defended his use of WHOIS contact information.

I didn’t incite anyone. I wrote an opinion about a domain owner deliberately misusing their domain by non-transparently masquerading as someone else. To do so, I used and published the chain of evidence that showed who owned the domain and what their affiliations were. There was nothing in my post that was a ” ….attempt a targeted contact campaign with any person, or any organisation…”

This is exactly what the whois is intended for.

His post is more than ‘an opinion’, it is a vindictive looking attack on Guerin and it encouraged others to attack Guerin using publicised contact information.

Prentice has also stated:

But as usual, rather than dealing with the issue that was in my post, you chose to make a big deal about publishing the information. Including the identifying information that is specifically public to allow the identification of the owners and operators of domains. You appear to have been too lazy to look at why that detail was actually published in my post. It was there to make it quite specific exactly who I was talking about. That is something that is typically done with addresses, emails addresses and phone numbers.

Prentice has previously complained about phone numbers and addresses being published on Whale Oil. He is well aware of what can happen when details like that are promoted on attack blogs. Another double standard.

He has also stated:

Actually I suspect that you are too rigidly cast into your unthinking attitudes to actually look at any evidence.

But others who still operate their intelligence may actually read the whois policies amd why they are formed. That is useful for the ongoing debate.

I frequently look for evidence, I think I do this more than most in political forums.

Here are excerpts the Terms of Service from WHOIS:

1. Acceptance of Terms

By using http://www.who.is (“Who.is”) you agree that you are over 18 years of age and have the ability to enter into a binding agreement. Any access to or use of Who.is constitutes acceptance of the following Terms of Service (“TOS”).

IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO ANY PROVISION IN THE FOLLOWING TOS OR IF ANY SECTION OF THE TOS IS BREACHED BY YOU; YOU ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO, AND SHALL NOT USE OR CONTINUE TO USE, OUR SERVICES.

2. Responsibilities and Regulations

Use of our services requires that you agree to uphold the following responsibilities and abide by the following regulations. Failure to do so in any constitutes immediate breach of this TOS.

You may not use our site to engage in any behavior that violates any local law or any law or regulation that is applicable to the venue created in this agreement. This prohibition includes, but is in no way limited to, use of our products or services in any way associated with activities that:

(b) attack, harass, threaten, defame, or otherwise infringe on the legal rights of any other individual or entity including but not limited to protection afforded to them via applicable criminal or privacy regulations.

Prentice’s post certainly looks like an attack on Guerin. It also enables harassment in the comments by allowing more abuse to be published. And by posting contact details and allowing a comment that admits using those details to abuse and harass Guerin and encourage further abuse Prentice appears to be a willing party to this.

(c) violate or would cause Who.is to violate any law, regulation or ethical standard. Who.is reserves the right to determine and establish what constitutes both what qualifies as a violation or ethical standard in our sole discretion at any time.

Prentice violates ethical standards he himself writes and complains about and imposes on others. I don’t know specifically what current WHOIS ethical standards are.

Prentice also wrote:

I wasn’t asking for a right of reply – I really just think you are being a stupid idiot. I was merely informing you of the steps I’d be taking to shut the internet morons like yourself up by exposing exactly how little you understood about why the whois is there.

This is what WHOIS suggests it’s information is for:

What is WHOIS data used for?

WHOIS is indispensable to the smooth operation of the DNS and is used for many legitimate purposes, including:

  • To determine whether or not a given domain is available.
  • To contact network administrators for resolution of technical matters related to networks associated with a domain name (e.g., DNS or routing matter, origin and path analysis of DoS and other network-based attacks).
  • To diagnose registration difficulties. WHOIS queries provide information that is often useful in resolving a registration ownership issue, such as the creation and expiration dates and the identity of the registrar.
  • To contact web administrators for resolution of technical matters associated with a domain name.
  • To obtain the real world identity, business location and contact information of an online merchant or business, or generally, any organization that has an online presence.
  • To associate a company, organization, or individual with a domain name, and to identify the party that is operating a web or other publicly accessible service using a domain name, for commercial or other purposes.
  • To contact a domain name registrant for the purpose of discussing and negotiating a secondary market transaction related to a registered domain name.
  • To notify a domain name registrant of the registrant’s obligation to maintain accurate registration information.
  • To contact a domain name registrant on matters related to the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights.
  • To establish or look into an identity in cyberspace, and as part of an incident response following an Internet or computer attack. (Security professionals and law enforcement agents use WHOIS to identify points of contact for a domain name.)
  • To gather investigative leads (i.e., to identify parties from whom additional information might be obtained). Law enforcement agents use WHOIS to find email addresses and attempt to identify the location of an alleged perpetrator of a crime involving fraud.
  • To investigate spam, law enforcement agents look to the WHOIS database to collect information on the website advertised in the spam.

I don’t see anything  there that suggests publishing contact information as a part of petty politically motivated attacks. Nor vindictive personal attacks.

Lynn – you say you wrote the post and managed the comments to expose Guerin (for doing similar things to what is done on The Standard).

Your words:

The “voitrol” was because he didn’t provide any information on the site to identify who was responsible for it. As far as I’m concerned he was concealing who was responsible from the public.

You easily found out who was responsible – that’s what WHOIS is for, isn’t it. Guerin had also been open about his involvement elsewhere in social media and other blogs had posted about who was responsible – without going to the level of abuse and exposure you did.

But all that aside Lynn can you explain this:

Why, after publishing abuse from yourself, contact information and abuse from others, and this comment from Atiawa:

I just sent him a text letting him know what a shit head he is. Can’t see much harm in anyone else telling him the same.

Why, after Guerin advised you that as a result of what you posted he been abused (and you published):

Unfortunately, after my personal details including phone number, postal address and email address were published on an article on The Standard, I receive a significant amount of hatred-filled vitriol directly at me personally via txt message, phone calls, emails and messages sent to my personal Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Why, five hours after Guerin posted that so you were well aware of what happened after you posted his contact details, in direct response to Guerin, why did you post this?

I have been busy this morning and lunch is a bit short for a full reply.

Here is Pete George, registrant of yournz.org.nz (just because I am thinking about complaining to him about his stupid and ignorant post this morning pushing this PR line)

This is explicitly public information to allow people to be able to check who is responsible for a domain, and for them to be able to contact them if there is an issue. This is a concept known as personal responsibility. Get used to it.

Lynn, why did you do this?

Prentice actions “strictly forbidden” by InternetNZ

Lynn Prentice often tells the world how well he knows the Internet, but Duncan Brown did a bit of simple checking and shows that when Prentice published the physical addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of Ben Guerin and myself he clearly breached conditions of the use of WHOIS registry searching.

What he did appears to be “strictly forbidden” by InternetNZ – not just a one off slip, it was a series of deliberate actions by Prentice over a two day extended period.

Duncan has details in Vindictive Prentice breaks the rules.

Prentice can’t claim ignorance (maybe). In his  Ben Guerin: a dirty politics fuckwit post he provided a link to clear warnings at the head of the information he re-published:

Registrar Info
% NZRS Limited 
% Users confirm on submission their agreement to all published Terms 
%
And just underneath:
% 
% Users are advised that the following activities are strictly forbidden. 
% 
% Using multiple WHOIS queries, or using the output of multiple WHOIS 
% queries in conjunction with any other facility or service, to enable 
% or effect a download of part or all of the .nz Register. 
% 
% Using any information contained in the WHOIS query output to attempt a 
% targeted contact campaign with any person, or any organisation, using any 
% medium. 
% 
% A breach of these conditions will be treated as a breach of the .nz Policies 
% and Procedures.  Sanctions in line with those specified in the policies and 
% procedures at http://www.dnc.org.nz may result from any breach. 
% 
% Copyright InternetNZ

It looks clear to me that Prentice breached “Using any information contained in the WHOIS query output to attempt a targeted contact campaign with any person, or any organisation, using any medium.”

In his post he encouraged people to contact Guerin:

FFS: Could someone inform the pathetic dickhead that Dirty Politics was so last year.

He made it clear that he would carefully check any comment before allowing it to go public:

Just a wee warning. Because of the amount of diversion trolling going on on my post (some people like to live dangerously), I’ve put a full moderation on this post.

I’m letting through any half way reasonable comment and mostly answering them. But it’d inadvisable for the usual trolls to try diversion trolling. I’m really not in the mood for it, but I am finding it hilarious to do permanent bans for the fools who do it.

He cleared this comment (which was in response to one of his own):

Atiawa 9.1.1

I just sent him a text letting him know what a shit head he is. Can’t see much harm in anyone else telling him the same.

So he approved of someone using the information he provided to abuse Guerin and who also encouraged more harassment. He heavily censored others and banned several commenters, seemingly more out of spite or anger than anything.

‘Izzy’ responded to Atiawa:

I think it’s disappointing that you saw fit to publish his contact information, which apparently commentators here have now used to send him abusive messages.

Prentice replied to tha, indicazting he was well aware of abuse as a result of WHOIS information he published:

The information that was published was the public information that every registrant for a domain must make public. If you want to change that then I suggest that you talk to IANA.

It is there specifically to allow people to find out who is responsible for uses of that domain. Perhaps you should bestir yourself to find out what the responsibilities are for a domain name holder.

Prentice should have found out what the responsibilities of WHOIS users are. Actually he did find out, he posted a link to them and then breached them.

And allowed and encouraged people to do his dirty work.

He can’t claim he had no knowledge of the abuse as Guerin made it clear in a comment.

Unfortunately, after my personal details including phone number, postal address and email address were published on an article on The Standard, I receive a significant amount of hatred-filled vitriol directly at me personally via txt message, phone calls, emails and messages sent to my personal Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Prentice responded to that by posting my own private address and phone number, and said (amongst other things):

That information is available for ALL domain names and their registrants, admins, and technical contacts. That is because domain names are a privilege requiring personal responsibility. If you put up a website or mail server or anything else under a domain, then you are responsible for the content published under it. The contact details are there for people to contact you. Sometimes that contact may be unpleasant.

He made the contact details available to others at The Standard and encouraged contact that was unpleasant.

From your whinging, personal responsibility appears to be something you are uncomfortable with. Perhaps you should not put up websites until you are better able to bear the burden.

It’s not likely Prentice will follow his own advice, he frequently ignores the rules he imposes on others.

I this case it looks clear he has broken some one else’s rules, something that is clearly “strictly forbidden” by InternetNZ. For all his claimed knowledge about the Internet ignorance is hardly an excuse he can use, and it wouldn’t wash anyway.

Responsibility is not something Prentice has any idea about unless trying to force it on others