The United State’s Censorship Powers Extend Beyond Its Borders

After the failures of SOPA and PIPA I brought up the fact that both pieces of legislation were irrelevant because the government would just act as if the laws were passed. Merely taking down MegaUpload wasn’t enough to satisfy the United State government’s appetite for censorship and now they’ve started enlisting the help of private domain registrars to take down more “undesirable” websites:

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., and in a blog post Calvin Ayre confirmed that their domain had been seized by homeland security.


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

Verisign is the ultimate authority in all .com domains. When you register a .com domain through other sites such as GoDaddy, eNom, or Hover they’re merely acting as resellers, middlemen, between you and Verisign. What this means is that Verisign can technically take down any .com domain, and the United States government used their authority to make Verisign take down a .com website even though the site was hosted outside of the government’s official reach.

This demonstrates quite succinctly that the government doesn’t actually need to pass any Internet censorship bills, such legislation would serve as a simple formality. What the government wants to do they do and anybody who attempts to stand in their way will find themselves crushed under the weight of the leviathan.

Does this mean everybody should rush out and register their sites with top-level domains controlled by organizations residing in foreign lands? You could attempt to do that although I highly doubt it would accomplish much. The United State’s government has a lot of pull and can likely get any domain they wish seized. It’s certainly a decent backup plan though, even if it is likely a temporary one. What we really need is a decentralized Dynamic Name System (DNS) that not central authority holds control over.