GoDaddy is only fighting for privacy because they make $9.95 a year providing it.
Having accurate, traceable, whois information is valuable. It grants any user on the internet use tools like dig and whois to take the first step in discerning the legitimacy of their sources. It also stems from the origins of the internet as not just a “good, wholesome place”, but one of collaboration.
Providing accurate information isn’t currently mandated by the government, but it is already mandated by ICANN and exists as a contractural clause on all domain registrations — if a registrar is alerted that someone has breached this clause, they revoke the domains automatically. However this shouldn’t just be viewed as a legal contract, but a social one. In exchange for the right to host speech, you give up the right to a certain type of anonymity.
I’m a big advocate of internet privacy — every email I send or access is encrypted, as are all of my file transfers. I change multiple passkeys so often that my dreams have become swirls of letters numbers and symbols — and I don’t think anyone will truly have privacy unless we live in a system where Jim Bell’s crazed “Assassination Politics” could actually be a reality.
The concept of private registrations, however, creates privacy at the loss of accountability. The accountability isn’t just there to let you realize that whitehouse.com isn’t owned by whitehouse.gov, or that emails from paypal.zzzz.com aren’t really from paypal — but also to let you know that supposed homepages of famous celebrities are really sad cries for attention by desperate midwestern housewives, and the white house’s favorite reporter Jeff Gannon is both a shill for the Christian Right and the owner of a gay military escort service — at once.
Even with requirements and possible laws, there are always ways to maintin sufficient anonymity. One can use PO Boxes, create dummy corporations to house multiple blogs, register a single domain for anonymous users and let it be known as such, or just use an anonymous account on livejournal or blogger.
On another facet, domain registration information gives the average user the ablility to notify the domain contacts that their web site has been defaced, someone is fraudulently sending emails from their systems, or just the simple ‘your web server is broken’.
With or without a private registration, the government will be able to get detailed information about the owner. The real debate is whether or not this information will be available to the average user.