[AfrICANN-discuss] Domain name seizures: The end of the dotcom dominance?

Anne-Rachel Inné annerachel at gmail.com
Fri Feb 24 12:44:36 SAST 2012

  Domain name seizures: The end of the dotcom dominance?
By Andres <http://www.technollama.co.uk/author/admin> On February 22,
2012· Leave
a Comment<http://www.technollama.co.uk/domain-name-seizures-the-end-of-the-dotcom-dominance#comments>


Back in November 2011 the US Department of Justice announced its
of domain name seizures under the authority of the Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. At the same time, ICE removed the domain
from 150 sites allegedly infringing copyright. Back then, I felt that this
would be a big development in the ongoing War on Piracy. Then we were hit
with the Megaupload arrests, an important part of which was the seizure of
its .com domain by US authorities using existing powers.

Last week we saw another incredible example of domain name seizure when
JotForm, a free web-based WYSIWYG form builder, had its .com domain
GoDaddy under request of the US Secret Service. It is believed that
was done because some people were using the service for phishing, but that
is besides the point. What is really interesting is that the domain
take-down has become the latest weapon in the US regulator arsenal, and it
seems like registrars are more than willing to comply with any order, even
if it is not judicial.

This has lots of worrying implications, but I believe that there must be
growing concern amongst legitimate businesses around the world about the
viability of keeping a .com domain name, specially if the business has any
sort of involvement with users and user-generated content. It is clear that
sites which engage in copyright infringing are starting to migrate outside
of the US, with The Pirate Bay being the most prominent example when it
moved to a .se domain.  But should legitimate operators do the same? The
answer to me is yes. With the presence of trigger-happy law enforcement
agencies running amok in the US with the domain name system, I cannot see
how an international business would endanger its name by keeping a .com
name. Sure, they were useful once, but in the age of Google their
importance is overstated, and it doesn’t really matter anymore if your
domain is .co, .ly or .ca. It seems clear that keeping a domain with a
US-based registrar may open one to have any domain seized with little or no
prior notification, and with no apparent legal recourse.

Similarly, a big concern for any business should be that by keeping a
domain name in a US registrar could also be the equivalent of signing up to
American jurisdiction. Needless to say, if your country has an unfairly
harsh extradition<http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2087135/Richard-ODwyer-US-extradition-pact-misused-says-Sir-Menzies-Campbell.html>agreement
with the United States, you should not make it easier for you to
be sent to one of their jails.

In the short-term, I predict a slow trickle away from US registrars. Now,
that’s an interesting business opportunity for countries around the world…
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