What good is authority if you can’t just wantonly expand it? The United States Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has claimed that they have jurisdiction over all .com and .net domains:
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency believes it has the authority to shut down any and all .com and .net websites that run afoul of copyright law, even if the site’s servers are hosted overseas.
Perhaps it has. The reason ICE feels its authority extends to any .com and .net domain overseas is because they’re all routed through Verisign, a registry service based in Virginia. As far as Barnett is concerned, that alone gives ICE the right extradite foreign site owners to the U.S. on piracy charges.
I hereby call bullshit on this. Although all traffic from those top level domains does route through Verisign the actual domain name is owned by the purchaser. For example I am the owner of christopherburg.com (although I use privacy protection to ensure my personal information doesn’t come up with a whois command). As a resident of the United States the federal government could attempt to lay claim that they have jurisdiction over my domain (if they claim that I’ll just laugh and give them the finger). On the other hand if the owner of a domain lives in Canada the United States government has no legitimate claim to the domain because it’s the property of a Canadian citizen.
Of course the United States government, like all governments, doesn’t give two shits about what is and isn’t “legal” for them. They make the rules and thus get to decide what is and isn’t legal. If they wish to perform a warrantless raid on a home you can damned well assure yourself that they will find some “legal” means of doing it (probably under anti-terrorism laws).
In this case ICE’s justification for claiming their actions are legal eliminates the concept of property rights.