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.
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.
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.