This week the Department Of Homeland Security's ICE office began seizing additional domain names in their copyright, counterfeit goods and child porn initiative that we've been covering for several weeks
. The effort has been a rather Keystone-cops-esque affair and rife with serious problems, most notably including the seizure of legitimate foreign business domains
that weren't engaged in illegal activity. This week things were taken to an entirely new level with the news that the DHS accidentally shut down about 84,000 websites
that had nothing to do with child porn after they seized -- then released -- the domain of a free DNS provider
As with previous seizures, ICE convinced a District Court judge to sign a seizure warrant, and then contacted the domain registries to point the domains in question to a server that hosts the warning message. However, somewhere in this process a mistake was made and as a result the domain of a large DNS service provider was seized. The domain in question is mooo.com, which belongs to the DNS provider FreeDNS. It is the most popular shared domain at afraid.org and as a result of the authorities’ actions a massive 84,000 subdomains were wrongfully seized as well. All sites were redirected to the (ICE/DHS warning graphic, right).
Note that there's very solid evidence that what Homeland Security is doing probably isn't legal
-- though as we've seen with domestic surveillance practices by the government, what's legal isn't really something many people in the intelligence community (or the telecom companies that help them) really spend much time worrying about
. In fact the DHS at this point doesn't even want to provide a yes or no answer
to whether they screwed up and took 84,000 websites offline.
Meanwhile, the controversial COICA censorship bill has returned once again at the behest of the entertainment industry
, aimed at expanding government authority to censor or filter content with little regard for First Amendment rights.