Maybe I Was Right & Those Government Domain Seizures Weren’t Such A Good Idea After All

The news is full of stories the last couple of days on how during the the last domain seizure “raid” by Homeland Security 84,000 Innocent website wound up getting shut down.

You can read some mainstream coverage on this issue here, here, and  here.

However on the domainer side of things I have to give credit to Dotweekly.com who was first to pick up on this story and find out about all of the  unintended consequences of one site being seized which effected now what appears to be 84,000 websites.

Much worse than being down for a several days, the effected websites have a much longer lasting problem.

You see the sites that were seized were done so for child porn.

So visitors to the innocent websites got this wonderful message:

“Advertisement, distribution, transportation, receipt, and possession of child pornography constitute federal crimes that carry penalties for first time offenders of up to 30 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution,”

Of course that was accompanied by the official seal of the ICE office as well.

The even bigger problem for these poor website owners is that the search engines have index this message that was attached to these site so many owners  are going to be damaged for a very long time as they have to explain to people they are not child pornographers.

For the government’s part, not much in the way of any apology seems to be coming to anyone effected by the action and certainly no compensation has been offered

Now when the 1st seizures took place last year, I stood up to say that the government should not seize property without due process, meaning that those accused of a crime should have an opportunity to defend themselves BEFORE their assets are seized.

This is exactly the situation I feared that a few innocents would be permanently tarnished if the government took unilateral action by seizing domains based off of one agents allegations.

Of course at the time there were those that argued that if the government takes your  property your guilty anyway, but I have always been an ” innocent until proven guilty” kind of guy knowing that a lot of these matters are pretty complicated and mistakes happen.

Over in The EU yesterday they also had a discussion about stopping child porn and rather than concentrating on just seizing domain names they had a better solution:

European Parliament Decides to Block Child Porn at Source” says the article from xbiz.com

“”The European Parliament decided yesterday that European Union member states must attempt to block child porn images at the source rather than forcing complete Internet blocking.””

“”Reports said that members of the Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee ruled that blocking access to websites is acceptable only in exceptional circumstances as when a host server from a non-E.U. member country refuses to cooperate or takes too long to comply.””

“”The unanimous 40-0 vote sides with Internet rights activists and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who were concerned about Internet freedom.””

“”The move supports the idea that simply blocking a website does not guarantee that some offensive images may remain in cyberspace. And blocking could mistakenly remove a site that supports child protection as was the case where a Dutch website reportedly campaigning against child abuse was blocked twice by mistake.””

“Blocking will be permitted under unusual circumstances but the ruling stated it “Must be set by transparent procedures and provide adequate safeguards, in particular to ensure that the restriction is limited to what is necessary and proportionate, and that users are informed of the reason for the restriction.”

“In addition, content providers must be informed of their right to appeal.”

“The decision also calls for tougher penalties for those who sexually abuse or exploit children that include a minimum penalty for 22 criminal offenses, including so-called online “grooming” of children, and allowing E.U. member states to impose tougher measures and sentencing.”

Right so instead of seizing a domain name and letting the material reappear on another domain name outside of say the US or EU jurisdiction, how about just getting to the people that have the child porrn or the fake bags or the protected content and put them in jail.

Wow.

What a great idea.

That just might work better, but of course that takes a lot more work.

I guess its easier just to seize domains and let the chips fall where they may.

Comments

  1. says

    I think if there are any savvy internet lawyers here they have a class action suit on their hands.
    If a popular site of mine displayed that ICE message for a few days, I could imagine people posting blog articles or comments around the internet saying how my site was shut down for child p0rn. People searching for my site in Google would see these articles/comments and the damage is irreversable.

    How did the government get it wrong… 84,000 times?

    Illegal search and seizure comes to my mind.

  2. says

    Hello Mike,

    It is never a good idea to lynch people or sites before a fair trial, makes you wonder about our conuntries diturbing developments, all ushered in by Patriot Act ?

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger)

  3. Louise says

    How about putting blame where blame is squarely due? Not on the government, but on ICANN, the major Registrars, and Verisign, for allowing these violations against THEIR OWN TERMS and putting the burden on government? You keep blaming government, but if Registrars addressed violations at their level, it NEVER would have had to go that far, is the way I see it.

  4. Louise says

    Additional to that, you don’t want more taxes. Oh, no. When private enterprise put the burden of their responsiblities on government, it costs the taxpayer.

    Private enterprise is only allowed to profit, benefit from living in this country, and register their businesses under sham boards in Wyoming, Nevada, or Delaware, so they can send their profits to the Caymans, where it cannot be touched by government! Invest in a process to nip violiations in the bud? What? Oh, no. Leave that to government, to the taxpayer, to the chumps who pay taxes on their entire paycheck, which is an ever-dwindling pool as citizens smarten up and register businesses in their wives’ names in Nevada, to protect their pile.

    They can’t take it with the.

  5. Landon White says

    @MHB

    Back last year when this all started with the innocent “Media Pirate Sites”
    tag you and every one on here posted that it was good that they were
    doing the right thing to protect and serve ….

    I was against it all,
    and saw what was coming “Any Breach of Civil Liberties” under ANY disguise
    leads to Repression …

    I am glad Mike that you have done a 300% turnaround on
    “Free speech no matter what” on this issue AND i will state that
    of ANY BLOG yours is NOW! #1 when it comes to non-Government
    involvement on the Internet and for freedom of speech..

    FOOTNOTE: Back then (last year) when Howard Neu posted coming Government infringements on his Blog, there was a certain Government spook named ‘Louise who made statements that Danny Pryor ( Louise ) posted was appalling and Fascist, in fact this very same Louise posting herein was just
    booted from a very popular Blog for trying to restrict artistic expression by making demands, you will be spammed in you click its link. DON’T!

  6. Louise says

    Sorry if I come off offensive to anybody. I’m not worried of the government; I’m worried of ICANN, Verisign, the major Registrars helping themselves to my dot coms. The mob is in there, and only the government can smack them down, imperfect though that arrangement is.

    You people aren’t seeing it, but I have to keep saying it!

    Thanx, MHB, allowing me to vent once in a while. I’ll stick with 3D thread for lighter chat . . . :D

  7. Anon-A-Bear says

    I’ve always avoided adult like the plague, even to the point that when buying a small portfolio of old domains from a webmaster, the only one I didn’t take was an adult name (and a pretty strong one at that), in spite of it being cheap.

    Has nothing to do with some moral crusade- I look at porn like every other male human being with internet access- but on the provider side, there are very scary gray areas in terms of content that could cause a headache. Yes yes yes, I know the courts have ruled that 3rd party sites aren’t liable to 2257, but those of us who’ve been around for a while all remember Landslide. The Max Hardcore case showed everyone that so much of this stuff is ‘test case territory’ even if certain laws need to be dusted off in order to further a political agenda.

    Scary scary stuff. Still, adult is just the front lines of a larger battle. The precedences and case law established there will see itself cross-applies to everyone else.

  8. Landon White says

    #

    THE TRUTH?

    Repost from Howard Neu Blog

    Mafia Concern or…
    a Fascist at Heart
    ……………………………. you decide!

    FROM Richard Pryor:

    @Louise,
    I find your statement appalling.
    I don’t want my government taking responsibility for people who don’t want to perform their own due diligence. The notion that government must protect its citizens from each other – as though everyone is out to get everyone else – is the harbinger of fascist things to come, and you will NEVER convince me otherwise.

    This is a dangerous and deplorable piece of legislation that grants excessive power to an agency that has no elected officials. That must not stand!

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