Fabricating Controversy

I’m always amused when non-technology publications attempt to write about technology. They either get the details laughably wrong or they try to drum up controversy over nothing. The Washington Post decided to post an example of the latter:

BROOKLINE, Mass. — Researcher Garth Bruen long has investigated the seamier corners of the Internet, but even he was shocked to discover Rapetube.org, a site urging users to share what it called “fantasy” videos of sexual attacks.


Sickened, Bruen tried to determine who operated the sites, a first step toward possibly having them shut down. But he quickly hit a wall: The contact information listed for Web sites increasingly is fictitious or intentionally masked by “privacy protection services” that offer ways around the transparency requirements built into the Internet for decades.

Oh. My. God. These pornography sites are so seedy and evil that they’re concealing their WHOIS information! They’re up to no good and this proves it! Except it doesn’t prove anything. Many domain owners utilize privacy services to conceal their personal information from WHOIS look ups. In fact I use such a service. If you do a WHOIS look up for this domain you’ll receive the following response:

The Registry database contains ONLY .COM, .NET, .EDU domains and
Registry Domain ID:
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.tucows.com
Registrar URL: http://tucowsdomains.com
Updated Date: 2013-02-26 07:56:55
Creation Date: 2009-03-06 02:30:35
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2014-03-06 02:30:35
Registrar: TUCOWS, INC.
Registrar IANA ID: 69
Registrar Abuse Contact Email:
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone:
Reseller: Hover
Reseller: help@hover.com
Reseller: 416.538.5498
Reseller: http://help.hover.com
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited
Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Registry Registrant ID:
Registrant Name: Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 0130416343
Registrant Organization: Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 0130416343
Registrant Street: 96 Mowat Ave
Registrant City: Toronto
Registrant State/Province: ON
Registrant Postal Code: M6K 3M1
Registrant Country: CA
Registrant Phone: +1.4165385457
Registrant Phone Ext:
Registrant Fax:
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email: christopherburg.com@contactprivacy.com
Registry Admin ID:
Admin Name: Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 0130416343
Admin Organization: Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 0130416343
Admin Street: 96 Mowat Ave
Admin City: Toronto
Admin State/Province: ON
Admin Postal Code: M6K 3M1
Admin Country: CA
Admin Phone: +1.4165385457
Admin Phone Ext:
Admin Fax:
Admin Fax Ext:
Admin Email: christopherburg.com@contactprivacy.com
Registry Tech ID:
Tech Name: Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 0130416343
Tech Organization: Contact Privacy Inc. Customer 0130416343
Tech Street: 96 Mowat Ave
Tech City: Toronto
Tech State/Province: ON
Tech Postal Code: M6K 3M1
Tech Country: CA
Tech Phone: +1.4165385457
Tech Phone Ext:
Tech Fax:
Tech Fax Ext:
Tech Email: christopherburg.com@contactprivacy.com
Name Server: NS1.HOVER.COM
Name Server: NS2.HOVER.COM

Am I doing something nefarious? No. I simply don’t want my personal address and phone number accessible to anybody with enough know how to type whois christopherburg.com into their command line. Pornographers most likely want the same protection because their business is seen by many in this country as dirty, immoral, and deserving of punishment. In fact this story affirms the value of a WHOIS privacy service. It’s talking about a man who is on a personal crusade against so-called violent pornography websites. While that’s not my particular kink I see no reason to harass pornographers creating fiction for those with more violent fantasies.

Media outlets always try to insinuate that those utilizing anonymity tools are up to no good. In reality most users of anonymity tools merely want to protect their privacy. Time and time again we see media outlets try to drum up controversy over onion routers, encrypted communications, and location hidden services. These attempts are desperate grasps for ratings by old media outlets that are incapable of changing with the times.