Wednesday, June 09, 2010

WHOIS Dat who say WHOIS Dat when I say WHOIS Dat?

What if someone sets up a website and messes with you. How do you find out who they are so that you can mess with them?

Well, first and obvious, many websites have "Contact Us" links that tell you exactly who they are and how to contact them. That would be a good place to start.

But maybe they aren’t so kind. Maybe they haven’t been considerate enough to make your life easy by leaving a calling card. Well, a website involves accounts. Two accounts to look into are (1) the domain name registration and (2) the web hosting account.

The information behind a domain name registration can be gained through WHOIS. The domain name system is a database that can be queried with the domain name. Ask for the information associated with a domain name, and you can get the registrant's name, address, phone number, email address, and IP number for the site. However, and here's the trick, for DNS to work, only the IP number of the site need be accurate. The rest of the information can be – and frequently is – bunkum (the problem of the accuracy of WHOIS has been a source of great consternation for law enforcement and Internet governance – see the "Fraudulent Online Identity Sanctions Act" which "amends the Trademark Act of 1946 and Federal copyright law to make it a violation of trademark and copyright law if a person knowingly provided, or caused to be provided, materially false contact information in making, maintaining, or renewing the registration of a domain name used in connection with the violation."). If the information in WHOIS is accurate, you've made your man. If not, then it's off to door number three.

The individual setting up the messing-with-you site probably set up an account with the host service to host the site. After all, the host site generally likes to be paid, and to be paid they need to know where to send the bill. That means the host probably has decent records about how to accurately extract money from the messing-with-you individual, and that in turn can be used to find out who that individual is.

Which brings us to today's story. In the case Zynga Game Network, Inc. v Williams et al, Case No. CV-10:01022JF(PVTx) (ND CA May 20, 2010), Plaintiff thought that Defendants were messing with it, but was unable to locate Defendants. Plaintiff wanted to issue subpoenas to GoDaddy, Microsoft Office Live, and to PayPal in order to identify and locate Defendants. According to the Court, Plaintiff sought to issue a subpoena in order to obtain

"all billing and account records (including all Internet domain names), server logs, website content, contact information, transaction histories and correspondence for the persons or entities that have purchased services from" the two hosts in question and from PayPal.

Wow! Really?!?! Plaintiff needs all of the server logs and the transactional records in order to know how to contact Defendants? The Court clarifies that the subpoena is a part of limited discovery, and limited means limited. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 26(b). The expressed purpose of this limited discovery is to "obtain the true identities and locations of Defendants." Fine, says the Court. Then you wont be needing all that other information which would give you information about "'any person[] or entit[y] that ha[s] purchased services from' one of the above listed web hosting sites." You don’t need server logs, website content, or other information that is linked to the sites. The Court permits but discovery, but only to "determine Defendants' true identities and locations." Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 4; Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 45.

It is worth noting that in justifying Plaintiff's need for the subpoena, Plaintiff specifically states Plaintiff had engaged in due diligence, and had attempted to locate Defendants using the information from WHOIS.

Let's see what today's lesson is: "Wheel of Morality, turn, turn, turn - Tell us what lesson we should learn." [Whirl, Click, Click, Clock]: "Don’t Mess With A Company That Makes a Product Called Mafia Wars!"


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Job Opening FTC

Job Title: General Attorney (Trade Regulation)
Agency: Federal Trade Commission
Sub Agency: Federal Trade Commission
Job Announcement Number: BCP-2010-0006

74,872.00 - 155,550.00 USD /year
Wednesday, June 02, 2010 to Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Full-timePermanent - Excepted Service
many vacancies - Washington DC Metro Area, DC
All Qualified Candidates

OUR MISSION: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces a variety of
Federal antitrust and consumer protection laws. The FTC seeks to
ensure that the nation's markets function competitively and are
vigorous, efficient, and free of undue restrictions. The FTC also
works to enhance the smooth operation of the marketplace by
eliminating marketing acts or practices that are unfair or deceptive.
The FTC conducts economic analyses to support its law enforcement
efforts and to contribute to the policy deliberations of the Agency,
the Congress, the Executive Branch, and other organizations.

The Bureau of Consumer Protection's divisions each have their own
areas of expertise:

Advertising Practices protects consumers by enforcing the nation's
truth-in-advertising laws, with particular emphasis on claims for
food, over-the counter drugs, dietary supplements, alcohol, tobacco
and on conduct related to high-tech products and the Internet, such as
the dissemination of spyware.

Enforcement litigates civil contempt and civil penalty actions to
enforce all FTC federal court injunctions and administrative orders
that address consumer protection issues, including advertising and
financial practices, data security, high-tech fraud, and telemarketing
and other scams. The Division also coordinates FTC actions with
criminal law enforcement agencies through its Criminal Liaison Unit;
litigates civil actions against those who defraud consumers; and
develops, reviews, and enforces a variety of consumer protection

Financial Practices protects consumers from deceptive and unfair
practices in the financial services industry, including protecting
consumers from predatory or discriminatory lending practices, as well
as deceptive or unfair loan servicing, debt collection, and credit
counseling or other debt assistance practices.

Marketing Practices leads the Commission's response to Internet,
telecommunications, and direct-mail fraud; deceptive spam; fraudulent
business, investment, and work-at-home schemes; and violations of the
Do Not Call provisions of the Telemarketing Sales Rule.

Privacy and Identity Protection safeguards consumers' financial
privacy; investigates breaches of data security; works to prevent
identity theft and aids consumers whose identities have been stolen;
and implements laws and regulations for the credit reporting industry,
including the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The Bureau enforces consumer protection laws through aggressive
litigation in a fast-paced environment. Attorneys get real courtroom
experience, the opportunity to lead cases, and take on primary
responsibility for all aspects of the litigation.

The Bureau's actions include individual company and industry-wide
investigations, administrative and federal court litigation,
rulemaking proceedings, and consumer and business education. The
Bureau also contributes to the Commission's efforts to advise Congress
and other government agencies about the impact of proposed actions on
consumers and industries.

Attorneys tackle high profile policy issues, especially in areas where
emerging technologies pose threats to consumers and business.

The Bureau is primarily seeking attorneys for positions in the
Divisions of Enforcement, Marketing Practices, and Privacy and
Identity Protection, but may also have openings for positions in the
Divisions of Advertising Practices and Financial Practices. Experience
in or strong interest in investigation, litigation, public policy, or
regulatory analysis is desirable. Excellent academic credentials and
references required.


* Possess a JD or LL.B. degree from an accredited Law School.
* Member in good standing of the Bar of a state or territory - US, PR, DC.
* Applicants must provided cover letter and writing sample
* Relocation expenses will not be paid