[AfrICANN-discuss] Verisign seizes .com domain registered via foreign Registrar on behalf of US Authorities.

Anne-Rachel Inné annerachel at gmail.com
Thu Mar 1 20:57:34 SAST 2012

 Verisign seizes .com domain registered via foreign Registrar on behalf of
US Authorities.

Written by Mark Jeftovic <http://blog2.easydns.org/author/markjr/> on February
29, 2012 — 29 Comments<http://blog2.easydns.org/2012/02/29/verisign-seizes-com-domain-registered-via-foreign-registrar-on-behalf-of-us-authorities/#comments>

Yesterday Forbes broke the news  that Canadian Calvin Ayre and partners who
operate the Bodog online gambling empire have been indicted in the
and in a blog post Calvin Ayre confirmed that their bodog.com domain had
been seized by homeland
As reported in Forbes (hat tip to The
the cite),

According to the six-page indictment filed by Rosenstein, Ayre worked with
Philip, Ferguson and Maloney to supervise an illegal gambling business from
June 2005 to January 2012 in violation of Maryland law. The indictment
focuses on the movement of funds from accounts outside the U.S., in
Switzerland, England, Malta, and Canada, and the hiring of media resellers
and advertisers to promote Internet gambling.

“Sports betting is illegal in Maryland, and federal law prohibits
bookmakers from flouting that law simply because they are located outside
the country,” Rosenstein said in a statement. “Many of the harms that
underlie gambling prohibitions are exacerbated when the enterprises operate
over the Internet without regulation.”

That is a truly scary quote but we'll emphasize that: "The indictment
focuses on the movement of funds *outside the U.S.*" and that you can't
just "flout US law" by *not being in the US*. What also needs to be
understood is that the domain bodog.com was registered to via a non-US
Registrar, namely Vancouver's domainclip <http://www.domainclip.com/>.
So Here's Where It Get's Scary…

[image: No Bodog.com for
all know that with some US-based Registrars (*cough* Godaddy *cough*), all
it takes is a badge out of a box of crackerjacks and you have the authority
to fax in a takedown request which has a good shot at being
We also know that some non-US registrars, it takes a lot more "due
process-iness" to get a domain taken

But now, none of that matters, because in this case the State of Maryland
simply issued a warrant to .com operator
(who is headquartered in California) who then duly updated the rootzone for
.com with two new NS records for bodog.com which now redirect the domain to
the takedown page.

This is exactly the scenario we were worried about when Verisign originally
tabled their very troubling takedown
Said proposal was quickly retracted, but here we have the same situation
playing out anyway. Granted, this was an actual court order, to Verisign –
not a "request" from a governmental or "quasi-governmental" agency as
originally proposed.

But at the end of the day what has happened is that US law (in fact,
Maryland state law) as been imposed on a .com domain operating outside the
USA, which is the subtext we were very worried about when we commented on
Even though SOPA is currently in limbo, the reality that US law can now be
asserted over all domains registered under .com, .net, org, .biz and maybe
.info (Afilias is headquartered in Ireland by operates out of the US).

This is no longer a doom-and-gloom theory by some guy in a tin foil hat. It
just happened.

The ramifications of this are no less than chilling and every single
organization branded or operating under .com, .net, .org, .biz etc needs to
ask themselves about their vulnerability to the whims of US federal and
state lawmakers (not exactly known their cluefulness nor even-handedness,
especially with regard to matters of the internet).
The larger picture: root monopolies and the need to replace ICANN

The .com root will never be opened to a truly competitive bidding process.
Verisign has pretty well ensconced themselves into the .com and .net roots
indefinitely with built-in price hikes baked into the
I recall a conversation I once had with Tucows CEO Elliot Noss, back when
they still owned Liberty RMS (which ran the .info registry and later sold
to Afilias) – he lamented that if the .com registry bidding process were *
truly* competitive, you would see a registry operator in there doing it for
about $2 per domain. At the time the wholesale cost of a .com domain was $6
and is now $7.85 after their latest *annual increase* which is hard-coded
into their contract.

I mention this because a truly competitive bidding process for the registry
operator job would bring out both cost competition and stewardship
competition: players who would table proposals on just how they would
respect the rights of all their stakeholders, not to mention operators who
may operate outside the United States.

*Where the fsck is ICANN in all of this?*

**They are nowhere. They are collecting their fees, pushing their agenda of
as many possible new-top-level domains and despite the fact that SOPA,
ACTA, PIPA et aim directly at the interests of their core stakeholders, for
whom they are supposed to be advocates and stewards.  ICANN is conspicuous
in their absence from the debate, save for a smug and trite abdication of
involvement (i.e. "ICANN Doesn't Take Down
– translation: "This isn't our problem".

And therein lies the issue. *ICANN needs to make this their problem,
because it very much is.* If ICANN isn't going to stand up, and vigorously
campaign for *global* stakeholder representation in these matters, than
they are not only abdicating any responsibility in the ongoing and
escalating crackdown on internet freedom, they are *also* abdicating their
right to govern and oversee it.

They need to be visible, they need to be loud and they need to come down on
the right side of these issues or they need to be replaced.

*Of course, the replacement of ICANN will never happen.* At least not by a
non-US entity, which means we are once again headed to the unthinkable
place that only crackpots and conspiracy theorists think possible: a
fractured internet with competing roots. On the bright side, life will go
on, and companies like mine will probably become exceedingly wealthy
charging every internet user in the world fees to gain and project
visibility across all the myriad internet roots that will someday exist
because governments will refuse to approach it co-operatively. The only
thing that will remain to be seen is whether we'll be deemed "criminals"
for doing so.
Further Reading:

   - First They Came For The Filesharing
   - Verisign Takedown Proposal Very
   - How SOPA Will Destroy The
   - The Price of Freedom and The Cost of a Domain
   - The Official easyDNS Takedown
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