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Police Demand Summary Domain Takedown, Traffic Redirection 251

Posted by Soulskill
from the please-and-thank-you-or-else dept.
Stunt Pope writes "This morning, Toronto-based domain registrar easyDNS received a request from the City of London (UK) police demanding that they summarily take down a BitTorrent search site based out of Singapore — or else they would 'refer the matter to ICANN' — suggesting easyDNS could lose its accreditation. The police further directed easyDNS to point all traffic for the domain to an IP address that promoted competing commercial online music services based out of London, UK." easyDNS raises some important questions in the blog post they put up after receiving the request. Quoting: "Who decides what is illegal? What makes somebody a criminal? Given that the subtext of the request contains a threat to refer the matter to ICANN if we don't play along, this is a non-trivial question. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I always thought it was something that gets decided in a court of law, as opposed to 'some guy on the internet' sending emails. While that's plenty reason enough for some registrars to take down domain names, it doesn't fly here."
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Police Demand Summary Domain Takedown, Traffic Redirection

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  • by elloz (3382559) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @03:39PM (#45074163)
    I summarily summarize this as an exercise in douchedom by dumb policemen.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I didn't know Jack Thompson was licensed to practise law in the UK.
  • by newcastlejon (1483695) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @03:42PM (#45074203)

    The City of London is not the city of London (as if Britain vs UK wasn't confusing enough for foreigners). The City of London is about one square mile where a large number of big businesses operate. In the City of London, these businesses get to vote in local elections, normal people can't just run for political office, and the police are about as far away from publicly accountable as it's possible for law enforcement to get. When people in Britain refer to "The City" (compare with "Wall Street"), they're talking about this tiny piece of the capital.

    In short, someone in big business has been crying to their rent-a-cop again.

    • by kthreadd (1558445)

      Maybe .uk should outlaw City of London since it seams highly inappropriate.

    • by spacefight (577141) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @03:59PM (#45074443)
      This. Read up on the City of London (not London...) and learn... it blows your mind. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_London [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_London_Corporation#Criticism [wikipedia.org] Talk about the establishment...
    • by _Shad0w_ (127912) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @04:02PM (#45074483)

      The City of London is actually older than England. Just to confuse people more.

      And then you have The Temple...

    • RCMP (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Roger W Moore (538166) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @04:16PM (#45074669) Journal
      The distinction between the metropolitan police and City of London police is not really relevant here. The important issue is that a police service in a foreign country has attempted to order a foreign company around. The correct response is to politely let them know that Canada has been independent from the UK for a while now and that UK law not apply. Indeed it is somewhat surprising that they do not know this since many Londoners seem to think that anything beyond the M25 is in a foreign land. In addition, as a matter of courtesy, they should really have contacted the RCMP who I'm sure would be delighted to hear from their British colleagues and would love to explain the charter of rights and freedoms to them.
      • The City of London probably has no jurisdiction, although Canada and Singapore are both parts of the Commonwealth. Going directly, like this, has no merit at all, but it's a brazen attempt at huffing and puffing. Can one be extradited? Maybe on a good day after lots of back-and-forth legal prattle, and that's the point. The shot across the bow (sorry for too many metaphors) is notice that various barristers and solicitors may now enter the mix, meters running, to add nastiness to the equation.

        Were I one of

      • Re:RCMP (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @04:29PM (#45074865)

        I used to get all kinds of demand letters while working at a registrar based in Canada. I just told them to go get a Canadian court order and we'd be happy to oblige. Never heard back from a single one.

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @04:17PM (#45074673)

      In short, someone in big business has been crying to their rent-a-cop again.

      Why not? It costs nothing to file a complaint and give some bluster. It's not like they're going to be fined for submitting a false report, engaging in mob-style business tactics, etc. Every business should do this, not just big ones. Now, back to the article...

      Who decides what is illegal?

      People who are above the law.

      What makes somebody a criminal?

      Anyone who is upsetting the status quo.

      ...if we don't play along, this is a non-trivial question.

      No, it is a trivial question. You're just young and naive. Sorry; I wish I had better news, and could tell you life was fair, but to quote the Man in Black in Princess Bride, "Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.â

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but I always thought it was something that gets decided in a court of law,

      ICANN was established in 1998, and gained limited international participation in 2005. There has never been a court of law to decide who gets to own a name on the internet. It's far worse than a court; This shit gets decided by committee.

      ...as opposed to 'some guy on the internet' sending emails.

      This isn't an e-mail. This is a business making a legal demand. You may be unaware of this, but anyone can make almost any legal demand in the United States, and indeed most westernized countries, without any substantial liability. You can be sued for anything as well -- color of your hair, look of your face, body fat content... and you have to show up to contest it. Now in those examples, it would be declared a frivolous action (in the USA) because it's obviously and patently absurd, but if you give it even the slightest hint of legitimacy, you can avoid that. My point is that the legal system is massively balanced to favor people who have wealth. You can abuse and harass the crap out of people, practically indefinately, if you're willing to kick a few schekles into the system. And... some wealthy individuals and businesses opt to do exactly that.

      Now, winning your case... that's a whole 'nother can of worms. But when there's no penalty for losing save the filing fee and associated legal costs of retaining counsel, and a financial incentive if you win, then the equation is quite simple: If your costs divided by the risk is less than the benefit multiplied by the risk... it's good business.

      While that's plenty reason enough for some registrars to take down domain names, it doesn't fly here."

      Except that's exactly how ICANN is structured to operate. Is it unfair? Yup. Anti-competitive? Certainly. Corrupt? Arguments can be made. US-centric? Nailed. Hopelessly incompetent? Arguments can be made. Your tax dollars at work. :/

      • by Obfuscant (592200) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @04:48PM (#45075075)

        This isn't an e-mail. This is a business making a legal demand.

        If you actually read the message, you'll see what it is. It isn't a demand, thus fails the test of "legal demand".

        It starts with a simple statement. Paraphrasing, "we believe that someone you are providing registration services for is doing something illegal and has invalid registration data." Then it makes a request. "Please investigate whether your customer is violating your terms of service " Who decides "what is illegal" in this case? easyDNS does. It's interesting that you claim that easyDNS is "above the law", since they are the ones who are making this determination. If easyDNS doesn't think they should be making this kind of determination, they should remove it from their TOS.

        They ask for a hold to be put on the DNS registration data, and that if easyDNS does act to cut off service to the client that the domain name be pointed to a certain place. That's if easyDNS decides to act.

        And then, most egregiously, they ask "please let us know what you've decided, one way or the other."

        Yes, they point out the ICANN rules about correct registration data being a requirement. Big deal. I've pointed out the same requirements to the registrars of spammers many times. I've obviously been overstepping my bounds as a private citizen and demanding people be put in jail. Not.

        Tempest in a tea pot.

      • by Ravaldy (2621787)

        I like your arguments.

        In a perfect world this kind of power would first be used to shutdown drug distribution, fishing scams and other types of cyber content that can endanger/ruin people's lives. It would then become available to shutdown piracy and other copyright issues and that would be fine by me. Unfortunately John Doe gets a brown envelope and all this goes to hell. You can't trust anybody with any amount of power. Even groups cannot be trusted with any amount of power. So as much as I would defend t

    • by hondo77 (324058)
      We have one of those [wikipedia.org] in Los Angeles.
  • by TechyImmigrant (175943) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @03:42PM (#45074209) Journal

    Go to the ip address in the complaint http://83.138.166.114/ [83.138.166.114]

    It's got the message from the police, along with a bunch of logos of commercial companies, like the BPI.

    So it's evident who they are working for.

    • "You have tried to access a website that is under criminal investigation by the UK:"

      Wait, they're investigating their own website? Or are they just so lonely they're not prepared for people intentionally going to their site?

    • by mwvdlee (775178) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @04:25PM (#45074793) Homepage

      If I have a legal media company in the UK, can I demand they put a link to my site on there as well?
      Could media companies sue them for unfair competition?

  • by seifried (12921) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @03:42PM (#45074215) Homepage
    They have solid service, and not just the simple stuff, but the ugly bits as well (granted they did let a few porn/gambling sites go after a series of massive DDoS attacks, but they gave them time to move as I understand it, they didn't summarily boot them off). When picking a DNS registrar/provider make sure you pick one that won't just turn your DNS off if someone decides to send an angry email to the registrar.
  • by harvestsun (2948641) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @03:43PM (#45074227)
    Intellectual Property Crime Unit: London would be the worst crime drama ever. It would consist entirely of people sitting at desks, sending strongly worded emails.
    • by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @04:01PM (#45074473) Homepage Journal
      Yes, but what would distinguish it from other potential shows featuring strongly-worded email-at-desk action is that the people doing it would be completely fucking unbearably obnoxious self-entitled arsebuckets. Or, at least employed, by them. So it'd really be more like a reality show.
      • ...the people doing it would be completely fucking unbearably obnoxious self-entitled arsebuckets.

        Throw in "self-righteous" and you'd be describing CSI perfectly.

    • by dgatwood (11270)

      No, they'd also have lots of cool effects where text is flying all around their screens and they would use a l33t cracking tool called WhoIS to find out who really owns a domain.

      • by whoever57 (658626)

        No, they'd also have lots of cool effects where text is flying all around their screens and they would use a l33t cracking tool called WhoIS to find out who really owns a domain.

        Except that the "whois" would be wrapped in a web page that put up a flashing "Searching" image for about 5 seconds, while it cycled through images of many website home pages in a small window, until it produced the results, along with an image of the account holder, except where the storyline demanded that it was a proxy regist

    • by mwvdlee (775178) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @04:22PM (#45074735) Homepage

      It'd make a great buddy cop show:
      A straight-laced deskjockey forced to team up with a maverick with blatent disregard for the law in the City of London.
      Together they write stern letters with no legal merit whatsoever.

    • You should see the promotions [youtube.com] for it.
    • by jxander (2605655)
      As compared to the spin-off : IPCU : Canada. Same thing, but the emails are very polite and apologize for any inconvenience.
    • Three people would have to be using each keyboard simultaneously. Otherwise, this is still the title holder. [youtube.com]
  • Easy answers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <elmuerte.drunksnipers@com> on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @03:43PM (#45074235) Homepage

    The money decides what's illegal.

  • Don't be silly. Punishment after conviction is so old-fashioned. Today we've made the police far more efficient by allowing them to punish people before they're convicted.

  • Fuck 'Em... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fallen1 (230220) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @03:55PM (#45074375) Homepage

    They have no actual authority. Let them "send it to ICANN" and see if that international body doesn't basically shrug and say "Who gives a fuck. This is outside your jurisdiction." Even if ICANN doesn't, at least you will have your day in "court" so to speak.

    • Re:Fuck 'Em... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by spacefight (577141) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @04:12PM (#45074591)
      Did you say Fuck'em too when the DHS went even further and just coniscated the domains without due process?
      • by fallen1 (230220)

        Yes. Why should I change my decision making process based on whether the City of London police are doing the wrong thing or if the United State's Department of Homeland Security is doing the wrong thing.

        THEY BOTH DID THE WRONG THING. We, as citizens of these countries (or residents of cities, and so forth), should stand up for what we know to be wrong - even if the consequences be harsh. Until WE do, THEY will continue to do almost as they please.

    • by Viol8 (599362)

      They're just hoping the word "police" will make the admins wet their pants. Its all bluff and hot air, there's nothing they can do other generate more hot air. Eventually they'll get bored and move on to real crimes that are in their jurisdiction instead of trying to play world policeman.

  • it doesnt seem to be far off where the internet is split into many parts with no centralized registry.

  • Do these people have any concept of jurisdiction and courts of law?

    So a police force in London demands a registrar in Toronto take down a site based in Singapore?

    Me, if I got a request like that from a foreign police force, my response would be "fuck you, show me some paperwork from a court in my jurisdiction, until then, you don't matter".

    This is no different than any piss pot country from trying to control the internet. It doesn't work like that.

    If it isn't a .co.uk domain, the police force of the City o

    • by Obfuscant (592200)

      Do these people have any concept of jurisdiction and courts of law?

      Yes. In the request, they refer to UK law, not Canadian.

      So a police force in London demands a registrar in Toronto take down a site based in Singapore?

      No. There is no demand in what they wrote.

      Me, if I got a request like that from a foreign police force, my response would be "fuck you, show me some paperwork from a court in my jurisdiction, until then, you don't matter".

      They are asking you to review one of your customers and whether they are violating your own terms of service. Why should it take a court of law for you to do that? If you don't want to enforce your own TOS, why do you have one?

      If it isn't a .co.uk domain, the police force of the City of London have no standing.

      They have every right to point out a potential violation of your TOS to you and ask that you review it. And they have every right to ask that you let them know what you've decided.

  • by ljw1004 (764174) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @04:13PM (#45074623)

    Read the actual police request. It says:

    We request that you review your processes to see if you provide a service for the identified domain(s). If so, we would ask you to review the terms and conditions on the basis of which that service is provided and withdraw or suspend the service if you are satisfied that the terms and conditions have been breached

    And the police helpfully highlight the relevant line from EasyDNS terms of service:

    easyDNS Terms of Service: easyDNS reserves the right to revoke any or all services associated with a domain or user account, for policy abuses. What constitutes a policy abuse is at the sole discretion of easyDNS and includes (but is not limited to) the following: ... copyright infringement ...

    But now the easyDNS got on his drama-queen high horse. Here's what he wrote:

    Who decides what is illegal? What makes somebody a criminal? Given that the subtext of the request contains a threat to refer the matter to ICANN if we don't play along, this is a non-trivial question. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I always thought it was something that gets decided in a court of law, as opposed to "some guy on the internet" sending emails

    Well the answer's clear. From his own terms of service, HE is the one who decides whether easyDNS should terminate service, at his discretion. Not a court. The police's request was solely that easyDNS should themselves determine whether this user had breached their own terms of service.

    • by Dretep (903366)
      Has EasyDNS even actually contacted London UK police to verify this is legit? Could just be the "competing commercial online music services based out of London, UK" spoofing the police to drum up business. How could the police expect traffic to be redirected? Sounds phishy...
    • by omnichad (1198475)

      Exactly. Police helpfully highlighted their own stupidity.

    • [quote]easyDNS Terms of Service: easyDNS reserves the right to revoke any or all services associated with a domain or user account, for policy abuses. What constitutes a policy abuse is at the sole discretion of easyDNS and includes (but is not limited to) the following: ... copyright infringement ...[/quote]

      Right, and interestingly enough the site in question is not serving copyrighted information. It's a torrent site. It hosts information on copyrighted content, but has none itself.
      If they want easyDNS to

      • by ljw1004 (764174)

        One easy answer is for easyDNS to say "We have not investigated whether they are violating our terms of service, and have no plan to investigate. We note that the terms of service grant us the RIGHT but not the OBLIGATION to revoke service for a violation of our terms of service."

        Another easy answer, as you say, is for easyDNS to write back and say "we have investigated the matter but have not been able to determine whether the owners of the site are engaged in copyright infringement. If a court finds them

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Stunt Pope (3287)

      The AUP is an agreement between a service provider and its customers. That's it. So the only two entities who have any say in whether there's an issue with the agreement are the two parties to it. Somebody else wants to shoehorn their own agenda into that, get a court order or go to hell.

      That's why easyDNS can and does say that they are the arbiters of what constitutes a violation of the AUP.

      Or as George W Bush would say, "We're the deciders".

  • The Internet is decentralized. You will now either make DNS redundantly decentralized or die by your foolish decision to have it centralized in the first place.
    This is the siths' time for your planet's organic womb to birth a world wide neural network, and we are exceeding efficient at harnessing it.
    Do you know any two people who have the same first names? How do you tell them apart? That's the only hint I'll give you filthy disgusting, humans.

    When they said all the organics were all full of crap, I thou

  • I especially liked the part of the request that asked to redirect the domain to their local corporate sponsors in the content industry. As if commercial seizure of the domain is even appropriate.

  • I think the proper response would be to have an attorney draw up a letter saying "We appreciate your concern, and will comply with all legal demands. We will redirect that domain immediately upon receipt of a copy of the court judgement or order directing such. We await your prompt forwarding of said judgement or order. We have also initiated an inquiry with ICANN regarding the propriety of a third party demanding control of a domain without having obtained it through a valid registration, dispute resolutio

  • This looks fake. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @04:42PM (#45075003) Homepage

    The "police page" at 83.138.166.114 [83.138.166.114] may be fake. That address resolves via reverse DNS to "S82574.clubonside.dk". But "clubonside.dk" isn't in DNS or the .dk registry. It was live in 2006, and was a site for soccer fans, then moved to "clubonside.com", and is now defunct. The IP address is hosted by Rackspace in London.

    Also note that on the page, there are no links to any law enforcement organization. All the links are ads for "safe and reliable online content". A domain actually taken over by the Serious Organized Crimes Agency in the UK looks like this. [rnbxclusive.com] No ads, links only to a UK government site.

    This looks like some private "IP protection" company impersonating a police agency.

    • by CCarrot (1562079)

      The "police page" at 83.138.166.114 [83.138.166.114] may be fake. That address resolves via reverse DNS to "S82574.clubonside.dk". But "clubonside.dk" isn't in DNS or the .dk registry. It was live in 2006, and was a site for soccer fans, then moved to "clubonside.com", and is now defunct.
      The IP address is hosted by Rackspace in London.

      Also note that on the page, there are no links to any law enforcement organization. All the links are ads for "safe and reliable online content".
      A domain actually taken over by the Serious Organized Crimes Agency in the UK looks like this. [rnbxclusive.com] No ads, links only to a UK government site.

      This looks like some private "IP protection" company impersonating a police agency.

      Hmm, interesting.

      Would be a brilliant spear-phishing ploy...just have your scary 'police' page point to fake-but-legit-sounding sites, collect data from gullible (and probably a bit jumpy) users, profit!

  • This has the ring of being a scam to me. The police have a lot wrong with themselves, and are corporate tools, but I still find it hard to believe that they would threaten a business, half a world away, into redirecting traffic to a specific COMMERCIAL website.

  • That easyDNS refused to rollover and instead called their bluff with, "nope, you're full of shit, kindly fuck off," is refreshingly satisfying.

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