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Fwd: Corporate vote-buying OK, satire not OK.

>November 5, 2000
>RTMark.com reveals its role, offers cash to the first person who can
>redirect the domain of a major candidate's website to
>    Voteauction: mailto:pr@[]
>    Bill Jones: (916) 653-7244
>    ICANN: mailto:icann@icann.org
>    Andy Mueller-Maguhn: mailto:andy@ccc.de
>    Domain Bank: mailto:shemphill@domainbank.net
>    Network Solutions: mailto:cregan@netsol.com
>    RTMark: mailto:voteauction@rtmark.com
>       http://rtmark.com/voteauction.html
>       http://rtmark.com/etoynsi.html
>Voteauction, the satirical website which bills itself as "the only
>election platform channelling 'soft money' directly to the democracy
>consumer," has fallen victim to a heavy-handed and sometimes illegal
>campaign against free speech by two corporations and several public
>On November 1, Network Solutions (the private for-profit corporation in
>charge of all .com, .net, and .org domains) shut down Vote-auction.com
>without warning or explanation, shortly after public attacks by the
>California Secretary of State, and after the Chicago Board of Elections
>filed an election fraud lawsuit against the domain. Neither the owners nor
>the service providers received any notification or warning of the
>shutdown, and Network Solutions has refused to comment on the issue. (See
>http://rtmark.com/etoynsi.html for an earlier example of illegal and still
>unexplained acts by the company.)
>California Secretary of State Bill Jones seems to have set the stage for
>this blatant disregard of Constitutional free speech protections by
>stating last week on CNN that corporate financing of elections is one
>subject that cannot be discussed: "whether this is a parody... makes
>absolutely no difference whatsoever in California... because you are
>talking about the corruption of the voting process."
>RTMark sponsored Voteauction.com in June (project VOTE, listed at
>http://rtmark.com/featured.html#VOTE) precisely because the satirical site
>helps highlight the ways corporations already effectively purchase votes.
>As law professor Jamin Raskin said about Voteauction, "...we have now
>evolved a system in which it's OK for money to buy elections, and yet we
>somehow cling to the fantasy that there's something deeply immoral about
>the purchase of an individual vote."
>RTMark and many others believe that if U.S. authorities such as Bill Jones
>wish to purge the election process of corruption, they should start by
>preventing corporations from spending unlimited sums on electing particular
>candidates, not by stopping a satire that highlights the problem. As one
>commentator wrote, "few would disagree that the problem with money in
>politics today is the hundreds of millions of dollars at the top, not a
>few dollars at the bottom. Which is why the short-lived vote sale should be
>seen less as a serious act of sabotage and more as guerrilla theater."
>Network Solutions' illegal deletion of the Vote-auction.com domain is just
>the latest blow in a series of actions that have closed the satirical
>website three times since it opened in August.
>1: In August, Voteauction.com founder James Baumgartner, a graduate
>student, was told by New York State Board of Elections officials that they
>would press charges against him; they even implied that he could be guilty
>of treason, which is punishable by execution. Baumgartner, faced with what
>amounted to an official state-sponsored death threat, had little choice but
>to close the site on August 18, at which point RTMark helped transfer the
>domain to its current Austrian owner, Hans Bernhard, who immediately
>re-opened Voteauction.com with new features.
>2. On October 21, Domain Bank, the U.S. company with which Voteauction.com
>had been registered, illegally froze the domain. Bernhard responded by
>registering Vote-auction.com (with an added hyphen) with a company located
>outside U.S. jurisdiction.
>3: On November 1, to circumvent this approach, Network Solutions, without
>warning and in clear violation of international law, removed
>Vote-auction.com from its root servers (the computers that provide domain
>information to all others). It is unknown who requested this action, and
>under what authority Network Solutions feels justified in performing it.
>Andy Mueller-Maguhn, a newly-elected director of ICANN, the non-profit
>corporation responsible for all internet domains, agreed this was an
>illegal move and said "I guess we will have to do something about this."
>In response to Network Solution's attack, the Voteauction team has begun
>gathering Vote-auction and Voteauction domains around the world and is
>calling on other domain owners to point their domains or sub-domains to
>, the Voteauction IP (IP addresses are not dependent on
>domain name registrars or on Internic). If you have a domain or sub-domain
>that you can point to, please do so and forward the
>information to mailto:pr@[] to be added to a list of
>In addition, RTMark has secured a $500 investment, of which $300 will be
>offered to the first person who can redirect the domain of a major US
>political candidate (for federal or state office) to
>The remaining $200 will be offered to the first person to re-route the
>domain of a major media outlet covering the elections to the Voteauction
>RTMark's primary goal is to publicize corporate subversion of the
>democratic process. To this end it acts as a clearinghouse for
>anti-corporate projects.
>                              # 30 #