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Police Demand Summary Domain Takedown, Traffic Redirection 251

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 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.
  • Easy answers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El_Muerte_TDS ( 592157 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @03:43PM (#45074235) Homepage

    The money decides what's illegal.

  • 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:Douche-o-matic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thaylin ( 555395 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @03:56PM (#45074379)
    You do know that they do not distribute copyrighted material, right?
  • Re:Douche-o-matic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @04:00PM (#45074447)

    But again, who decides what is Illegal? The UK demanding a Canadian based firm use UK law while in Canadian, while domain in question is for a company in a Singapore? There are three different countries that have laws here. so what law do you follow? Should the UK just block all traffic to that site? its ahell of a lot more complicated then you make it out to be.

  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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. :/

  • Re:Douche-o-matic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kelemvor4 ( 1980226 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @04:20PM (#45074701)

    Get over yourself. It's pretty fucking obvious these domains are torrent sites, and make a shit load of money from adverts and "donations for servers" while their only product is the illegal distribution of copyrighted material. They also sell seedbox subscriptions. The days of bedroom torrent trackers are gone, this is organised crime venturing into new fields and easy money.

    Due process is due process. Doesn't matter what your opinion is on the matter unless you're a judge or jury member.

  • Re:Douche-o-matic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jonbryce ( 703250 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @04:26PM (#45074811) Homepage

    But have they made any money from anyone within the jurisdiction of the City of London Police. Just in case you don't realise, the City of London is the smallest city in England, with a population of just over 7000 people. Most of what people think of as London is covered by other cities and boroughs such as Westminster, and the Metropolitan Police looks after them.

  • Re:Douche-o-matic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @04:28PM (#45074833)

    Yep, we should close all for-profit news channels, they benefit from all the horrible things happening in the world.

  • Re:Douche-o-matic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unrtst ( 777550 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @04:40PM (#45074979)

    This is a DOMAIN REGISTRAR, not the host of the content. They don't give you this information, they just tell you where to get it.

    And yet many sites HAVE been shutdown for doing just that - linking to content. It's wrong, and it's a slippery slope, but this is the next step - enjoy the slide.

    That said, by no means should they be forced to redirect it to a site of the UK's choosing. They should just let it go to ICANN, or involve legal now and push the issue back on them immediately.

  • 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.

  • Re:Douche-o-matic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by djdanlib ( 732853 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @04:50PM (#45075093) Homepage

    It seems to me that it's more like walking around saying that Yellow Pages Inc. (or whatever, your favorite phone book) allows the immoral John Doe to list himself in their book.

    They are not providing the website, the content, the hosting, or any of that. Domain registrars point numbers to names.

    The registrar isn't there to decide morality. The hosting company is responsible for the content in their datacenters, not the domain registrar. I say they should take it to ICANN and watch the request be officially denied. Can't do anything there.

    I'm just saying, use the appropriate channels to shut down content, rather than forcing the phone book to shut its doors over one person in the book.

  • Re:Douche-o-matic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anon, Not Coward D ( 2797805 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @04:55PM (#45075153)

    they do not only benefit from them, they are the cause! (same as the "piracy" argument)

  • Re:RCMP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by c-A-d ( 77980 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @05:01PM (#45075207)

    This is the correct reply. Force them to work in the proper jurisdiction of action.

  • Re:Douche-o-matic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jxander ( 2605655 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @05:12PM (#45075323)

    The initial cause? No.

    They are a force multiplier, and act directly to keep the pain and suffering rolling.

    The farcical news organizations drum up extreme hate and discontent among their target audience (be it left or right, young or old, etc) which serves only to prevent reasonable discourse and problem solving. The more bile they spew, and the longer they keep everyone's hackles up, the more they profit.

  • Re:Douche-o-matic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bucc5062 ( 856482 ) <bucc5062.gmail@com> on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @05:37PM (#45075573)

    Which is to say that these Organizations are not focused first on news, but on entertainment. Some drum louder then others, but I do agree with your point. Just as some say Nixon would not be accepted in the republican party today, Cronkite or Morrow would be shown the door for not "coloring" the news.

  • by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @05:40PM (#45075601)
    You put all the words together in a large pot, stir it a couple of times, pull them out in a different order, and then highlight them to prove you are right.

    The fact that the request has something to do with someone potentially breaking the law doesn't mean it is a "legal demand". A "legal demand" would be "based on this law we are demanding that you do something." They made no claim to legal jurisdiction. There was no demand. A "legal demand" is a cop telling you to turn off the camera you are using to videotape him in action (and note, "legal demand" doesn't mean the demand itself is legal!). Think of it as "a demand made from a legal basis." A foreign police agency asking you to review a customer's adherence to your own "laws" (TOS) is not a "legal demand". It's the same kind of request anyone could make.

    If I see my neighbor's kid riding his bike without a helmet on the street (a violation of law in this locale) and I tell my neighbor "could you suggest to your kid that he wear his helmet", even though you'd call it a "legal demand" it really isn't.

    They also didn't demand immediate obedience, which is what 'peremptory' means. They weren't "insistent". You forgot to highlight that there are TWO adjectives to "request" in the definition of demand, neither of which apply. A "demand" is more than a "request", otherwise they'd be synonyms and there wouldn't be a need for additional adjectives in the definition.

    No, say I legal dare meets it meets demand the literal and true of definition a.

    See what I did there? I put all your words in a large pot and stirred them all up and this is what came out. It makes as much sense as what you did with the request from the City of London police. Perhaps you should stop "facepalming" and read what the request actually was. Then you might notice that it is a request for easyDNS to review it's own TOS and if their customer is complying or not. It didn't demand anything. Not a single damn thing.

    You're helping whip up the tempest in a teapot. It's fun, but hardly productive or useful.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"