This is an important story. It effects you as an American, a Domainer and as an internet user.
It starts with child porn. I know everyone’s knee jerk reaction once they hear child porn, is put the bastard away.
I know. I agree.
But you need to understand what went on here.
What the government did.
What happened here can happen to you, there are many things the government says are illegal, including owning certain domain names, if the Snowe bill passes.
So let’s begin. I will comment after the story.
This is a story that appeared in Cnet news and was written by Declan McCullagh.
Roderick Vosburgh, was a doctoral student at Temple University, and also taught history at La Salle University.
His home was raided in February 2007 after he allegedly clicked on a hyperlink that was planted by the FBI, which posted hyperlinks to a site that purported to be for illegal videos of minors having sex.
Federal agents knocked on Vosburgh’s door around 7 a.m. Once he opened the door, they threw him to the ground outside his house and handcuffed him”
They had a search warrant which authorized them to “seize and remove any computer-related equipment, utility bills, telephone bills, any addressed correspondence sent through the U.S. mail, video gear, camera equipment, checkbooks, bank statements, and credit card statements.”
Vosburgh was charged with violating federal law, which criminalizes “attempts” to download child pornography.
Last November, a jury found Vosburgh guilty on that count, and he faces three to four years in prison.
“”””The implications of the FBI’s hyperlink-enticement technique are sweeping. Using the same logic and legal arguments, federal agents could send unsolicited e-mail messages to millions of Americans advertising illegal narcotics or child pornography, and raid people who click on the links embedded in the spam messages.””””
“””””The bureau could register the “unlawfulimages.com” domain name and prosecute intentional visitors. And so on.””””
“”””””While it might seem that merely clicking on a link wouldn’t be enough to justify a search warrant, courts have ruled otherwise. On March 6, U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt in Nevada agreed with a magistrate judge that the hyperlink-sting operation constituted sufficient probable cause to justify giving the FBI its search warrant.”””””””
“”””””From the FBI’s perspective, clicking on the illicit hyperlink is a serious crime.”””
“”””Civil libertarians warn that anyone who clicks on a hyperlink advertising something illegal, perhaps found while Web browsing or received through e-mail, could face the same fate.””””
So let’s be clear here. What happened is this guy clicked on a link.
He could not download any movies or pictures from the site the link went to because the site the FBI set up, had no pictures or content on it, so nothing could have been downloaded.
He did not subscribe or attempt to subscribe to a service.
He did not give his credit card or other personal information to the “site”.
He did not fill out any forms on the site.
He was not in a chat room trying to lure children.
He did not transmit any pictures to anyone, or send any images to anyone.
He clicked on a link.
He clicked on a link for something that is illegal.
He is going to jail.
The really scary part of this is that a lot of things are illegal.
A lot of things that many of us consider no really illegal.
Buying prescription drugs on the internet is illegal.
The government can send you an e-mail with an offer to purchase Viagra and if you click on the link the Feds will be at your door.
You don’t have to buy, you just have to click.
It will not stop there. The possibilities are endless. There are thousands of federal crimes.
Being domainers we tend to look around the internet a lot. See what is going on. See new landing pages. Look for affiliate programs.
We are always looking to see where domains we may be interested in buying or getting on the drop go to or point to in Google search results.
Look around, click around. We all spend a lot of time doing it.
I get well over 2,000 pieces of junk mail a day, each asking me to click on something.
For all of you that think the government will be rational or reasonable in their enforcement of the Snowe bill, be warned they do not play that way.
Once you give the government power over something it’s almost impossible to curb their use of it.
The same government that is putting people in jail for sending spam, can now send you spam, and if you click on a link in the spam, can put you in jail for that.
Did you see the story a few weeks ago that the US had the highest percentage of its population in Jail, in the world?
The US now has 1% of it population in jail. More than China, More than all these “axus of evil” countries like north Korea and Iran. More than anywhere.
You trust your government to treat you right? Not to over enforce a law.
Did you know until 1913, there was no income tax in the United States? Up to then the courts ruled that a tax on income or labor was unconstitutional.
So an amendment to the constitution was proposed, and in 1913 the sixteenth amendment to the constitution was ratified.
When it was voted on congress and ratified by 75% of the states you know what the general tax rate was??
And the tax was a graduated tax, so only the “big” guys, the high earners, would have to pay it.
Do you know what percentage of the population was subject to income tax based on their income when it was first passed?
Yes only 1% of the US population made enough money in 1913 to be subject to the Federal Income Tax.
It was a classic case of; “well if it’s not going to effect me it’s OK”; “If only the “big” guys are going to have to pay, it’s alright”.
“The one’s who have the most to lose, should worry about it not me.”
So how did that work out for all of you, not so “big” guys?
How did it happen that such a great idea that would only effect 1% of the population now effects 100% of it?
Because once you give the government power, it’s impossible to control.
Be careful where you click.
Fight hard before allowing your rights to be given away, even if you think it’s only going to effect the “big” guys.
Because it never stops at that.
I read yesterday these same excuses on domain boards of why they had not joined the ICA.
“Let the “big” guys do it.
“Let the one’s with the most to lose do it.”
“The government isn’t going to enforce it.”
“They certainly aren’t going to enforce it against me.”
“They are not going to set up a task force to come after domainers”
Sleep well at night thinking that, after all you may have to wake up early one morning to answer a knock on your door.