Did Tucows Get Off Easy?

I’ve been thinking about our “Liberty Village Renamed Toronto’s Porn Alley”.

Is it just me or did Tucows get off really easy here? In the MSNBC version of the Dateline NBC story, it says (emphasis mine):

We arrive at the address. It’s a postal drop — just a little mailbox. It seems like a dead end. But when we go back to our computer we find there’s another Toronto company affiliated with “Spunkfarm.” This one is called “Python,” and there’s even an address. Maybe the porn mailer is there. We go to the location, not a mail drop. But it certainly doesn’t look like an office. The space was going to be a Middle Eastern restaurant. Another dead end.

There is one place in Toronto that might help us: It’s called Tucows. That’s the place that registers those Web site names. It’s what led us to Toronto to begin with. The receptionist is happy to look up the name “Spunkfarm” for us. We get another address — this one very nearby.

My reading of this story is that Dateline didn’t know what to do after looking at the WHOIS for the site in the story. But when they went to Tucows, the receptionist gave them the real address of the people involved. If Tucows hadn’t handed over the information to an undercover reporter this story may never have surfaced. It seems that Joey’s post nicely deflected the privacy issue by picking on the sensationalistic aspects of the story (which there certainly were). And Tucows CEO’ blog is silent on this (and has been silent all year for that matter). Had Steve Rubel picked this up like it was a Kryptonite lock they might not be off the hook so fast. Joey is clearly a nice guy, a smart blogger, and well-loved by most in the blogosphere. It seems that his post diffused what might have been an issue had he not been there. Maybe Joey is a valuable resource for Tucows much as Scoble is for Microsoft in that they both serve as lightning rods for the blogosphere — taking the hit to leave the corporate message intact. And because they were out there ahead of controversy they are more likely not be jumped on like a blogless Kryptonite or clueless Dell.

Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on August 10, 2005.