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U.S. Government “Accidentally” Seizes and Shuts Down 84,000 Websites

DOJ seizes 80000 domains

Two months ago, we wrote about the U.S. Department of Justice’s largely unilateral seizure of domain names of commercial websites that were engaged in counterfeiting. We’ve now seen the danger of that process, with the government pulling a major “whoopsie” and mistakenly shutting down a large number of perfectly innocent sites, as the government went after child pornography sites.

As we previously discussed, the seizure process is one-sided, with a judge reviewing a Justice Department affidavit, with no input from the accused sites. Worse, the prior affidavit was based at least partially on information from the Motion Picture Association of America.

This time, the government goofed. The domain, part of the DNS provider FreeDNS, was shut down in the process. Sites registered through displayed a banner ad suggesting that the sites were engaged in child pornography. How many sites were affected? Try 84,000. It took a day and a half for the seizure to be reversed, and another three days for all the inflammatory banners to disappear.

Is anybody worried about the unilateral seizure of domain now? Or is this a price worth paying in the fight against child pornography?

U.S. Anti-Child Pornography Operation Accidentally Shuts Down 84,000 Sites [Huffington Post]

Man smacking head image from striatic.