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

Vika Mpisane vika at zadna.org.za
Fri Mar 2 12:35:59 SAST 2012

It is very, very troubling indeed:-(

From:  Brian Munyao Longwe <blongwe at gmail.com>
Reply-To:  <africann at afrinic.net>
Date:  Thu, 1 Mar 2012 22:49:40 +0300
To:  <africann at afrinic.net>, KICTAnet ICT Policy Discussions
<kictanet at lists.kictanet.or.ke>
Subject:  Re: [AfrICANN-discuss] Verisign seizes .com domain registered via
foreign Registrar on behalf of US Authorities.

This is very troubling. And an unwelcome precedent...

On Thu, Mar 1, 2012 at 9:57 PM, Anne-Rachel Inné <annerachel at gmail.com>
> Verisign seizes .com domain registered via foreign Registrar on behalf of US
> Authorities.
> http://blog2.easydns.org/2012/02/29/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>
> Share   
> Yesterday Forbes broke the news  that Canadian Calvin Ayre and partners who
> operate the Bodog online gambling empire have been indicted in the U.S.
> <http://www.forbes.com/sites/nathanvardi/2012/02/28/feds-indict-former-online-
> gambling-billionaire-calvin-ayre/> , and in a blog post Calvin Ayre confirmed
> that their bodog.com domain had been seized by homeland security
> <http://calvinayre.com/2012/02/28/legal/calvin-ayre-indicted-by-feds-calvin-ay
> re-releases-statement> . As reported in Forbes (hat tip to The Domains
> <http://www.thedomains.com/2012/02/28/feds-not-only-seize-the-domain-name-bodo
> g-com-but-indict-the-4-ownersoperators-including-calvin-ayre/>  for 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.
>> ³Sports betting is illegal in Maryland, and federal law prohibits bookmakers
>> from flouting that law simply because they are located outside the country,²
>> Rosenstein said in a statement. ³Many of the harms that underlie gambling
>> prohibitions are exacerbated when the enterprises operate over the Internet
>> without regulation.²
> 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 <http://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 ScaryŠ
> <http://blog.easydns.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Screen-Shot-2012-02-28-at-
> 11.22.31-PM.png> We 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
> honoured 
> <http://blog.easydns.org/2012/02/17/the-price-of-freedom-and-the-cost-of-a-dom
> ain-name/> . We also know that some non-US registrars, it takes a lot more
> "due process-iness" to get a domain taken down.
> <http://blog.easydns.org/2012/02/21/the-official-easydns-domain-takedown-polic
> y/> 
> But now, none of that matters, because in this case the State of Maryland
> simply issued a warrant to .com operator Verisign
> <http://cdn3.bit2host.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/BodogWebsiteSeizureWarran
> t.pdf> , (who is headquartered in California) who then duly updated the
> rootzone for .com with two new NS records for bodog.com <http://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 proposal
> <http://blog.easydns.org/2011/10/11/verisign-domain-takedown-proposal-very-wor
> risome/> . 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 SOPA
> <http://blog.easydns.org/2011/12/22/how-sopa-will-destroy-the-internet/> .
> 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 cake
> <http://blog.easydns.org/2007/04/16/verisign-raises-fees-on-com-and-net-easydn
> s-doesnt/> . 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 Websites
> <http://blog.icann.org/2010/12/icann-doesn%E2%80%99t-take-down-websites/> ") ­
> 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 Domains
> <http://blog.easydns.org/2010/11/27/first-they-came-for-the-file-sharing-domai
> ns/> 
> * Verisign Takedown Proposal Very Worrisome
> <http://blog.easydns.org/2011/10/11/verisign-domain-takedown-proposal-very-wor
> risome/> 
> * How SOPA Will Destroy The Internet
> <http://blog.easydns.org/2011/12/22/how-sopa-will-destroy-the-internet/>
> * The Price of Freedom and The Cost of a Domain Name
> <http://blog.easydns.org/2012/02/17/the-price-of-freedom-and-the-cost-of-a-dom
> ain-name/> 
> * The Official easyDNS Takedown Policy
> <http://blog.easydns.org/2012/02/21/the-official-easydns-domain-takedown-polic
> y/> 
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Brian Munyao Longwe
e-mail: blongwe at gmail.com
cell:  +254715964281
blog : http://zinjlog.blogspot.com
meta-blog: http://mashilingi.blogspot.com

"Give us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for,
because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything."

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