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More foreign registered .coms seized by US government

By Anne Sewell     Mar 10, 2012 in Internet
The recent seizure of a Canadian gambling website caused an online outcry as it was registered outside the USA and thought to be out of its jurisdiction. Now it turns out 750 more domains have also been seized.
A recent Digital Journal article reported that a Canadian gambling website,, owned by Canadian billionaire Calvin Ayre, had been seized by homeland security.
It turns out this is not an isolated case and US customs official Nicola Navas has confirmed that the US government has taken control of 750 domains, "most with foreign-based registrars" over the past few years.
According to RT an operation dubbed "In Our Sites", which is an initiative run jointly by US and Immigration Customs Enforcement is dedicated to shutting down "illegal websites". These websites are allegedly involved in the distribution of copyright works and copyright goods.
The operation was created in 2010 to police US-owned domains but by federal court orders their reach has been extended to shut down .com websites registered abroad.
EasyDNS, a multinational domain-hosting company. has stated that: “The ramifications of this are no less than chilling and every single organization branded or operating under .com, .net, .org, .biz etc. needs to ask themselves about their vulnerability to the whims of US federal and state lawmakers.”
In the case of Ayre's gambling website, the domain was shut down because internet gambling is illegal in the USA. However the website was registered to a Canadian server and in Canada it is perfectly legal.
Homeland security justified the move citing “the movement of funds from accounts outside the US” as the reason.
It would be thought that such a move was beyond the jurisdiction of the US, but this is not the case. Through Verisign, which is the only organization authorized to issue new .com domains, the US can get at ANY .com domain. Verisign also manages .net, cc, and .tv domains. All the US has to do is to issue Verisign with a court order, which would then effectively shut down the "offending website".
In the case of .org websites, the Public Internet Registry, which is also US based, can shut down .org domains on the order of the US Government.
In a recent statement, Verisign told Wired magazine that it had acted "above board" and “responds to lawful court orders subject to its technical capabilities.” Wired Magazine was one of many thousands of websites who "blacked out" in the recent SOPA protest online.
Many online activists, protesting against the threat of internet censorship, are up in arms at the US's seemingly total and unbridled power to shut down any website it wishes.
Activists say that while the situation is bad now, one can only imagine what will happen if SOPA, PIPA, ACTA or something similar is passed into law.
More about Internet, Censorship, Com, illegal websites, Verisign
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