I'm completely shattered and I'm not exactly sure why either as I got a decent nights sleep. It really makes no sense why exactly.
Since many net citizens have complained about the suspension of goates.cx I offer the following perspective.... The .CX ccTLD represents Christmas Island and is the on-line representation of that community on the Internet. Individuals or organizations from outside that community are invited to register in portions of that name space but should be aware are (to quote from out publicly posted polices) that...
"the policies for the .CX country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) are set by the Board of Christmas Island Internet Administration Limited (CIIA) and are designed to reflect the legal systems, values, and ethnic diversity of the community of the Territory of Christmas Island. They are an attempt to balance the historical principals of fairness and access to the DNS with the concerns of registrants and Internet users regarding privacy, lawful activity and protection of intellectual property and other third party rights."
"CIIA cannot, and does not, monitor, screen or otherwise review a Domain application to verify the Registrant's legal rights to use a particular word or term in its Domain prior to registration. CIIA does not get involved with disputes over rights to particular domains. CIIA may however suspend or revoke a domain if the use of a .CX Domain is unlawful or infringes on the rights of a third party. By way of example CIIA policy does not attempt to screen or restrict the registration or use of a .CX domain, however registrants should be aware that if the use of a .CX domain name clearly infringes on the rights of a third party as defined in the CIIA AUP, or is any way unlawful then that domain name may be subject to suspension or revocation. "
Technically speaking CIIA is both a community owned non profit ISP and the Trustee for the CX ccTLD on behalf of the Christmas Island community. Although Christmas Island is an external Territory of AU, CIIA is an Australian company functions largely under the legislative framework of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Although many ccTLD registries might attempt to argue that they are not in any way a part of the network that delivers/publishes Internet content, this view (in CIIAs opinion) is best summed up as a "commercial convenience" and abdication of responsibility to act as a Trustee for the community represented by the name space. As the Internet has matured there can be no doubt that it is increasingly being used as a tool for illegal activity. The argument that individual Internet users (wherever they may be) should be required to contact ISP's in Belarus, the US, Rwanda etc... to report unlawful activity or content places an unfair burden of on individuals who may not have the time resources or skills to bring an action or outcome. The widespread use of broadband and technologies such as dynamic DNS make most much of this sort of prohibited traffic a moving target - and action based solely on convincing the "hosting provider" to remove content generally ineffective.
There can be no doubt that a ccTLD registry is a key choke point for enforcing policy and that it has enormous theoretical power to ensure polices and use comply with the desires and values of the community represented by that name space. This "power "is also viewed by CIIA as a responsibility, although it would be inappropriate and irresponsible for a trustee of a name space to make arbitrary / capricious decisions or to follow a "personal ideological agenda" this is not the case in the CX TLD. In reviewing complains CIIA assesses them against the criteria established not by ourselves but to legislation and policy set by government and the relevant community.
In the case of CIIA when reviewing a complaint we look to the ABA (Australian Broadcasting Authority - http://www.aba.gov.au ) for guidance on what is prohibited Internet content under the laws applicable to Christmas Island. Although a complex legislative framework "the law defines Internet content as stored information which is accessed over an Internet carriage service, including material on the World Wide Web, postings on newsgroups and bulletin boards, and other files that can be downloaded from an archive or library".
Although some may debate it, the registry is a key, (although passive) element in the delivery of Internet content. To argue otherwise is not (IMO) sensible, a registry can suspend a domain - effectively blocking access (if you ignore hacking to contaminate ISP's cache servers as has been the case in the suspension of goatse.cx) so clearly they are a key in the part of the delivery of that content, - if they were not then suspending would have no effect.
At CIIA we do not monitor but we are compelled (under applicable legislation and the corporate policy which defines the stewardship of the CX ccTLD) to receive and process complaints, and if it can reasonably considered to be "prohibited content" as defined by the legislation we, under the AU self regulatory scheme remove or restrict access if we are able to so. This is the framework CIIA operates in, and quite frankly we are quite happy to do so. We have no problem restricting access to child porn bestiality etc... CIIA considers it a responsibility to do so when it is brought to our attention.
To assert that a registry is simply a carriage provider and to shift the burden of restricting access (where the content is prohibited by legislation) onto others is a quite simply "cop-out". CIIA generally takes great steps to protect the privacy of registrants - which aside from controlling the harvesting of data serves to encourage freedom to advocate "this and that". From a policy perspective since CIIA limits the access to detailed "who-is" information refusing to take action on formal complaints ourselves it would be highly irresponsible and an abdication of our responsibilities as a trustee for the CX name space.
CIIA will not investigate a complaint about something a person disagrees with or simply does not like, if it is not otherwise legally defined as prohibited content or unlawful activity . We agree such complaints should be directed to the authors of the content.
In the case of goatse.cx the site was suspended ( primarily) because the author chose to "hard code" (as opposed to a link posted to an un moderated forum) a link to a bestiality site which provided a FAQ on how to have sex with dolphins. CIIA takes the view that hard coding of links is functionally the same as providing a navigation button to that content. This is "prohibited Internet content" as defined by the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA http://www.aba.gov.au) and we have no qualms about suspending the name to restrict access.
Because one "can" do something does not mean they have a "right" to do it, and they certainly do not have a "free speech" right to use the CIIA network to publish anything they want on the net (child porn, unlawful distribution of software etc) or to use the network engage in, or promote unlawful activity. This is our view as custodians for the CX TLD on behalf of the Christmas Island community and it is supported by the members of that community who have endorsed CIIA to manage the name space.
Whether one falls into the DNS is a public resource or the DNS is part of a private network school of thought, the outcome in terms of policy is the same. There is little debate that the DNS should be considered (by the custodians of a TLD name space) as a global resource. To argue, as many have, that the DNS is a public resource and that CIIA has not authority to manage it, or set rules for it's use nonsensical. To say that a national park is a public resource and therefore anybody can do anything they want in that space is incorrect. As a public resource there are allowed / permissible uses as well as and uses which are not permissible. Even a public resource is managed in accordance with the desires of the relevent community.
The CX ccTLD is a sub-set of the global name space and is managed as accordance with the laws and desires of Christmas Island community. The CX ccTLD is not a gTLD and has not wholly adopted ICANN "UDRP", "who-is" . CIIA has developed localized polices which reflect the culture and values and legal systems of the Christmas Island community.
At the end of the day, if as has been asserted in numerous emails, the goatse.cx web site was an Internet icon which represented the theory that net citizens had rights and freedoms which they may not have in society generally, then the suspension of goatse.cx represent the natural evolution of society, cyber or otherwise an abuse of rights and freedoms (outside of purpose for which society has mutually agreed to provide those rights and freedoms) can generally be expected to be met with attempts to place reasonable limits on those rights and freedoms.
These limits in the CX ccTLD name space reflect the values customs and legal systems of the Christmas Island. The polices for registration in the CX ccTLD name space provide substantial protections for of registrants in the CX ccTLD name space, but those right are not without limits. At the end of the day if one is not comfortable with the limits set for the CX name space they may register and publish thier content elsewhere, as some will.
CIIA Policy Panel
(the person who made the determination to suspend - based not one one but on numerous complaints)