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US Asserts Super-Jurisdiction Over Dot-Com, Dot-Net, and Dot-Org Domains 395

An anonymous reader writes "Michael Geist reports that last week State of Maryland prosecutors were able to obtain a warrant ordering Verisign, the company that manages the dot-com domain name registry, to redirect the website to a warning page advising that it has been seized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The message from the case is clear: all dot-com, dot-net, and dot-org domain names are subject to U.S. jurisdiction regardless of where they operate or where they were registered. This grants the U.S. a form of 'super-jurisdiction' over Internet activities, since most other countries are limited to jurisdiction with a real and substantial connection."
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US Asserts Super-Jurisdiction Over Dot-Com, Dot-Net, and Dot-Org Domains

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  • by Strawser ( 22927 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:09PM (#39263871) Homepage

    Won't this just encourage other companies, or even US companies, to switch to a national domain?

    • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:10PM (#39263895)
      Of course. But then many of them already operate under international domains and just use the US .com domain to redirect to their main site. But I suspect that the people behind this legislation have no real idea how such things work.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:18PM (#39264055)

        I imagine that someone thought this was a creative way to attain a short-term objective (shutting down a web site) without regard to the long-term impact (loss of trust in the US).

        I sometimes think that's the difference between cleverness and wisdom.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:40PM (#39264477)

        Just for sake of accuracy, this was a court ruling - and a state court at that, not legislation that passed.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @03:07PM (#39264929)

        ...just use the US .com domain...

        Um, .com is an international domain for "commercial". The US domain is .us.

        That is why this situation is so disconcerting.

        • by elbonia ( 2452474 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @04:25PM (#39265943)
          No the .com domain belongs to the US. .com, .net, .gov, .mil, .edu, .and org are ALL US domains. Since the US invented the internet through ARPNET those extensions do not need the .us at the end. This was specifically designed to follow the stamp model. The UK came up with the idea of standard postage and it's the only country not needed to identify itself.

          Jurisdiction is clearly under the control of the US. .com was originally made and administered by the US Department of Defense. Anyone can register and get a .com domain name but it's clearly under US jurisdiction.

          • by Aaron B Lingwood ( 1288412 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @06:37PM (#39267605)

            No the .com domain belongs to the US. .com, .net, .gov, .mil, .edu, .and org are ALL US domains.

            I refute this claim.

            [.com .org .net .edu .int ] were classified as 'World Wide Generic Domains' while [ .gov .mil .us ] were US-only according to RFC 1591 [^1]

            I highly recommend that you read the paper titled "WRONG TURN IN CYBERSPACE: USING ICANN TO ROUTE AROUND THE APA AND THE CONSTITUTION" by A Michael Froomkin. [^2]

            In 1998, ICAAN was formed and given management rights of the [ .com .net .org ] TLD's by the USC. In 2000, ICAAN's rights were formally recognized by the DoC and separate (and conflicting) agreements were signed. U.S government retained control of [ .int .edu ] domains and set restrictive polices on both (against the RFC). Please note that ICAAN is required to comply to RFC 1034, 1035 and 1591 [^3][^4]

            Today, we no longer have the 'World Wide Generic Domains'. These have been replaced with a different TLD system which specifies Generic Top Level Domains (gTLD) as domains that operate directly under policies established by ICANN processes for the global Internet community. [^5] [ .com .org .net ] are classified as gTLD's and thus are for the global Internet community. [^6]


            Nowhere in this factsheet does it say that [ .com ] etc belong to the US. This is simply regarding an agreement transferring management from the U.S government to ICAAN.

            I'll see you're source and raise you 6

            [^1] []

            [^2] []

            [^3] []

            [^4] []

            [^5] []

            [^6] []

    • I'm sure it will. Though I suspect most won't move away from .com but will add on other domains. So you might have a and a and a For an operation that is turning a profit (not your average website) it's not much of an additional cost or administration headache.

    • by aaaaaaargh! ( 1150173 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:38PM (#39264441)


      That's why you would have to point your browser to [] instead of .com if you wanted to watch movies for free.

      But, of course, I do not recommend that, because it would presumably be illegal.

    • by ackthpt ( 218170 )

      Won't this just encourage other companies, or even US companies, to switch to a national domain?

      You mean they haven't? I see more domains with .tv .it, whatever, every day. If there were a tld .bm I expect IBM would grab

    • I guess they are trying to imply that all domains are national domains. Capital is allowed to act transnationally, but tools available to the people are not.
    • This is probably a big reason why GoDaddy has started marketing the .co domain. The US can't assert jurisdiction over Columbia's national domain.
  • Web site? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Which web site would that be?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:14PM (#39263977)

    I think it has now become vital to remove control of the internet's root services from the US. I'm sure the process is now underway.

    • by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:38PM (#39264435) Journal

      And give it to whom?

      • by green1 ( 322787 )

        ideally a decentralized service that no one country can have any authority over.

        • But then how do you handle disputes? What happens when the World Wrestling Federation and World Wildlife Fund both claim WWF? What happens when some enterprising little scammer starts a company called Incorporated Bastard Millionare for the express purpose of beating IBM to their claim and forcing them to buy it off him at a hugely inflated price?
          • by ODBOL ( 197239 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @03:19PM (#39265107) Homepage

            Perhaps it's time to move away from total dependence on domain names. Their value comes inherently from qualities that invite dispute.

            With search services, it's quite possible to find hosts that have no domain name at all. I can't post my favorite example, because the server has insufficient power to handle lots of hits, but such things definitely exist. There's still some problem with control by the search companies, but there's a finer granularity of competition there.

            Once you get to a given host, you can determine whether it's World Wrestling or World Wildlife. That doesn't have to be certified (very unreliably) by a DNS registrar.

      • And give it to whom?

        Give it to Iran or China perhaps? That was it will be more likely that governments around the world will stand up for the rights of their citizens if those countries decide to start asserting control.

    • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:52PM (#39264673)
      Actually, lots are outside the US. []

      While only 13 names are used for the root nameservers, there are many more physical servers; A, C, F, G, I, J, K, L and M servers now exist in multiple locations on different continents, using anycast address announcements to provide decentralized service. As a result most of the physical root servers are now outside the United States, allowing for high performance worldwide.

      The question is if the company running them us US based? RIPE (Amsterdam) is not. Nor is WIDE (Japan), or Autonomica (Sweden). Once they stop accepting updates from US DNS, things will get ugly fast.

  • Of course (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:14PM (#39263983) Homepage
    Last I knew, .com, .net, .gov, .mil, .edu, .org, and .us were all United States TLDs. For websites outside the US that want to keep all of their systems out of US jurisdiction, don't use a US-based domain name. Does this company also act surprised that the US government could access any US-based bank accounts it has?
    • IMHO, ".us" is the US TLD, while .com, .org, etc are the "International ones". For example, redirects to ( in my case). The same goes to all major international websites.

      • Well, sure... that's how they're used, and how it ought to be (in my opinion, as well)... but I don't recall a time where someone in power (ICANN) said "these TLDs belong to everybody". DNS started in the US, and those TLDs were the first, so they fell into US jurisdiction. Now, bearing in mind that I wasn't a big network user back then so I may be wrong, but I believe those TLDs predate the practicality of a globally-connected and globally-accessible Internet.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        > IMHO, ".us" is the US TLD, while .com, .org, etc are the "International ones".

        You'd think, but that's not actually the case. .com, .org, .mil etc all were developed as US domains (the internet was almost entirely a US phenomenon at the time), and they were never "given away" to the international community. They've always been fully controlled by the US. The country domains were created for each country to control their own: the .ca, .jp, and so on that you see around.

        The entire DNS system originated

      • Re:Of course (Score:5, Informative)

        by shogarth ( 668598 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:32PM (#39264339)

        Not so much. Those were created while this whole Internet thing was a DoD/DoE/NSF (and other TLA) plaything. Anyone expecting that there would be a neutral, internationally managed jurisdiction was being idealistic and/or naive.

        The problem is that governments have an established interest in and right to set the ground rules within their respective jurisdictions. For most of the internet, that comes down to boxes in their physical territory and the relevant CcTLD. The US has a first-mover advantage (or headache) in that they also created the .ORG, .NET, .COM, .MIL, and .EDU zones and can make a reasonable jurisdictional claim to them.

        This is also why I think the open registration for TLDs is a bad idea. These jurisdictional issues are complicated enough (and will likely require a treaty or two to work out) without corporations in one country registering a TLD from a registrar in another to use for business worldwide. It's similar to the problem that had to be worked out internationally as corporate legal fictions became the norm in international commerce.

      • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

        I am in the US and doesn't redirect anywhere. Your own logic proves that .com is a US tld.

    • Re:Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

      by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:32PM (#39264331)

      Does this company also act surprised that the US government could access any US-based bank accounts it has?

      I suppose it would be. By taking this aggressively authoritarian stance on global commerce, the United States is threatening its own interests: The financial power of the US is tied directly to its financial markets. The US signed treaties with many countries that, even if war were declared, their assets would be left alone. For this reason, many countries use the dollar as their only form of currency, store their assets in US-controlled financial systems, etc. As a result, the US government is the largest bank in the world, by far. The internet is fast becoming the major driver of economic power worldwide, and the fact that the US is not putting its internet connections on the same level threatens its status as a superpower.

      Countries are moving away from the dollar. The Chinese is divesting itself of dollars every day, growing larger economically while we grow weaker. Corporations based in this country are outsourcing at a record pace, even during the longest recession in history. Everyone is jumping ship because the public policy the US government has instituted is no longer beneficial to them economically, politically, or even morally. In ten years, the United States will no longer be the dominant superpower. They won't be able to maintain a vast military, their infrastructure will have finally reached a point of decrepitation that requires such enormous capital investment versus the (now substantially reduced) economic benefit, that large sections of infrastructure will be abandoned or scaled back.

      In short, America is dying. And it didn't die because of a lack of natural resources, or because it was attacked by terrorists, or got hit with a natural disaster. It died because a select few people, perhaps less than 20,000, opted to raid the treasury, and then pass a bunch of laws to ensure the country never recovered.

      So yes, to see the US killing its last viable resource that could be used to keep it in the game is a bit surprising. Without a free internet, there's no reason to choose US labor, good, or services, over that of its competitors who, while they may have a restricted communication network, offer better economic opportunities (read: China).

  • Switching to a non-US TLD....

  • by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:16PM (#39264003)

    Well shit, I only have the .com, .net and .org versions of my domain name. Maybe it's time to grab the .co GoDaddy keeps pimping as "the new .com".

    • Re:Well shit (Score:4, Informative)

      by joaeri ( 583880 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:31PM (#39264315) Homepage
      Just dont get it though GoDaddy or any other US based company or they can probably close down your site anyway.
    • Re:Well shit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by philip.paradis ( 2580427 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:31PM (#39264319)

      You should be aware that co is the ccTLD for Colombia, a country the United States enjoys a close relationship with. Well, it's a cozy relationship with one of their governments, anyhow. They've got the official government, the government with half the guns, and the government with most of the drugs. In any event, it's the official government that would be the issue if push came to shove over a domain.

      Also, GoDaddy pimping anything is frequently a good reason to avoid whatever they're pimping.

  • *.is ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by J'raxis ( 248192 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:16PM (#39264007) Homepage

    This would be an excellent opportunity for Iceland, which has been working on become a haven for free speech [], to drum up a few million dollars worth of business for their ccTLD.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:17PM (#39264037)

    We invented it and we own it. Eat shit eurotrash. Make your own Internet and stop leeching if you don't like it.

    • um, modded "Funny"? Hes not trying to being funny. He speaks passionately from his heart!
    • by Tom ( 822 )

      We do. It's called "the Internet". Built with our hardware, our cables, our routers, our servers, our providers, etc. etc.

      Oh wait, you mean no matter how much we contributed, it is always the property of the one who invented it?


      Ok, time to dig up all the stuff that Europe invented, say before the US ever existed, and ask you to stop using that. Start with toilets and cutlery while I look up the rest.

  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:19PM (#39264069) Homepage

    Currently I use OpenSRS but they are also based in the US so from the looks of it they'd be forced to break any Canadian privacy laws to give out domain name info. I've never had problems with them. Now obviously they might not be able to give out info past the .com/org/net domains but I don't want anything to do with a company doing business with the US.

    Any one know of any registrars that have no business doing with the US? I still have an old Stargate/ account that I can transfer all my domains to...

  • Being an option, and knowing that big business can motivate US law enforcement to cross borders, must now look like a viable target to be included in Apples next injunction attempt.
  • Holy BALLS! That has some ludicrously deep ramifications, what the hell are they... oh wait, timothy submitted this from "anonymous"?
    Alllright, lemme just wait for the +5 insightful comments to clear this up before I get my rage on.
  • Switch off these domains.
    I'm thinking of switching to Dot-FuckyoUS
  • Am I confused here? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:32PM (#39264333) Journal
    While I'm sure that the feds managed to do something tasteless and possibly illegal with this power, I'm a bit confused by the summary:

    In order to 'have' a domain name, you have to pay for the appropriate registration with Verisign, a US corporation, who handles those domains. If the feds secure the appropriate court order, they can direct Verisign to have your point to a different IP.

    Ok. Hasn't that always been the case?

    Some sort of argument that a site having a .com pointing to it placed the site, server(s), or operator(s) under US jurisdiction would be rather more dramatic; but the DNS record that points to your IP has always been under American jursdiction...
    • Well, there's been a bit of naivete about ".com". Specifically, the idea that if you "buy" your ".com" from a non-US registrar, somehow that makes the ".com" immune to US interference. People haven't realized up until now that the US allows everyone else to play in their ".com" playground under US sufferance and by US rules, since the US registrar (Verisign) owns the whole megilla. So the shock of "I never had nuffin' to do wit' da US" is not really justified, but pretty shocking nonetheless, I guess.


  • So, any country can declare a global legal jurisdiction, and pass laws directing everyone on the planet to comply? Or only those countries with very large militaries, indicating that might not only makes right, but assures authority over legal matters outside the nation's boundaries.

    I don't think so, fascist state.

    • The answer would be that, yes, any country can do so, and several have. The following countries have declared that they have the authority to prosecute those who violate certain of their laws, no matter where the crime is committed: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
  • by Roogna ( 9643 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:42PM (#39264531)

    How is this different from like Libya exercising control over the sites being hosted under .ly domains?

    "International law
    Shortened internet links typically use foreign country domain names, and are therefore under the jurisdiction of that nation. Libya, for instance, exercised its control over the .ly domain in October 2010 to shut down for violating Libyan pornography laws. Failure to predict such problems with URL shorteners and investment in URL shortening companies may reflect a lack of due diligence.[19]"

    Not to say any kind of censorship is right, but at the moment, us treating the US based TLDs as, well, US based, is just the way jurisdiction has been being handled when it comes to domain names.

  • Dear Justice Department, Can you please take down Thanks,
  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:44PM (#39264549) Homepage

    Verisign is inside the USA and that is where all .coms are registered. The "registrars" are just sales agents. Get youself a .ru domain.

  • Come on. Who should have control of these (and .gov)? I think that we all knew that this was the case.
    The problem becomes if we ever think that we own any of the national levels other than .US. Likewise, I would think that the same is true of other alphabets.
    Sadly, I can see this coming that some idiot will scream that we do.

    Now, the question is, who owns the new ones coming up?
  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by schroedogg ( 596283 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:47PM (#39264601) Homepage
    All your domain are belong to U.S.!
  • Let's face it, the .com domain registry is in the US and the the US does have jurisdiction by the logical extension to the Internet of old case law.

    US servers are being told to resolve domains.

    Courts, prosecutors, the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security (and other things) being able to arbitrarily seize domains IS the problem.

    The only purpose for seizure as it was intended to be used when restrictions on search and seizure were added to the Constitution was to gather and preserve evidence.

    That is its only LEGITIMATE purpose still, unless someone has been convicted of a crime and it is part of their sentence or to stop a terrorist attack.

    And if they don't have the Department of Homeland Security STOP worrying about bullshit and just deal with actual homeland security, I'm afraid another 9/11 is extremely likely. Having them involved in the War on Drugs and the War on Piracy and the War on Gambling is going to make us lose the War on Terror (the only one WORTH fighting).

    And FreeNet is easy to take down.

    Try, convict and then sentence node owners to 20 years in prison. The rest will shut themselves down.

    You don't even need to convict people. Here in Las Vegas, someone was accused (not even yet tried) of possessing child pornography. Rather than try the alleged pervert, they assigned him a cellmate in the Clark County Detention Center (*) who was an accused murderer of a child (killing his own nephew!), who, get this, ended up killing (BEAT and STABBED to death) the alleged pervert. Imagine that.

    That was a hit.

    So now people know that just being accused can result in an indirect death sentence. Even those innocent could die.

    And guess what one running a FreeNet node could be accused of trafficing in? They could be set up with bogus/planted evidence, arrested, set up in prison and brutally killed with in a week! No need for a trial where someone could be found not guilty.

    Talk about a chilling effect!

    (*) This jail is way out of control. Maybe not as bad as Rikers Island in NYC, but close! Some years back they put someone accused of marijuana possession in with hardened criminals and he got raped in the shower. I don't think that was an accident.

    Sam Donaldson of Stop Prison Rape (now Just Detention International) was set up in the DC jail to get raped - read the story. (**) [] [] []
    "In 1997, Robert was arrested for possession of marijuana and taken to the Clark County detention center in Las Vegas where three men raped him in the shower. Now, 18 months out of prison, he is still trying to come to terms with the experience."

    Guess they taught him a lesson for daring to possess the "evil reefer"!

    (**) []

  • by Newer Guy ( 520108 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @04:47PM (#39266267)
    Seriously though, is there any doubt that the USA is fast becoming the schoolyard bully of the world? And we wonder why other countries hate us so!
    • Fast becoming??? Where have you been for the last 20 years? Under a rock somewhere?

      The U.S. has always been a bully. From Iran and Iraq to Brazil and Bolivia, it has always stuck its hands, nose, and sometimes more nefarious parts into other countries' businesses.

      Countries have hated us since the end of WWII. You're probably only just noticing this bcause we've just about finished spending all of the political capital we amassed during the Cold War. Where before, countries will sit there quietly and take it

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle