US Returns JotForm.com Domain; Still Refuses To Say What Happened

from the not-cool dept

There’s been a lot of interest in the story of the Secret Service completely shutting down JotForm.com through a request to GoDaddy. It appears that the suspension is now ending, though it hasn’t fully propagated. What’s amazing is that no one in the US government (or at GoDaddy) seems to be willing to explain what happened. When GoDaddy completely shut down JotForm.com with no notice, the folks at JotForm had to inquire as to what the hell happened to their entire website. They were merely told to contact a Secret Service agent. That agent then told JotForm she was too busy to respond to them and would get back to them within a week.

Think about that for a second. The US government completely takes down a small business’ website and then is too busy to explain why.

JotForm noted that it was willing to cooperate fully if there were specific users that were a problem, but the Secret Service did not seem to care that it had almost destroyed an entire startup’s business:

When I contacted the Secret Service, the agent told me she is busy and she asked for my phone number, and told me they will get back to me within this week. I told them we are a web service with hundreds of thousands of users, so this is a matter of urgency, and we are ready to cooperate fully. I was ready to shutdown any form they request and provide any information we have about the user. Unfortunately, she told me she needs to look at the case which she can do in a few days. I called her many times again to check about the case, but she seems to be getting irritated with me. At this point, we are waiting for them to look into our case.

So far, the Secret Service still isn’t talking, returning a bland and meaningless statement to press requests:

“We are aware of the incident and we’re reviewing it internally to make sure all the proper procedures and protocols were followed.”

GoDaddy, similarly, appears to be staying almost entirely silent.

All of this is completely unacceptable. Almost everything about this sets off alarm bells about over aggressive (and potentially illegal) censorship by the US government of protected free speech. We’ve been seeing a much more aggressive and overreaching effort by US officials against websites over the past 18 months or so, and at some point, they’re going to get smacked down by a court who will explain to them the nature of the First Amendment and the fact that you can’t unilaterally take down entire websites without recognizing the collateral damage on legitimate web businesses.

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Comments on “US Returns JotForm.com Domain; Still Refuses To Say What Happened”

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155 Comments
John Doe says:

I have a Go Daddy account

I have a blog on Go Daddy but after all that I have seen from them, there is no way I will ever do business with them again.

What is really scary is the government is free to do what they want to whoever they want and there is nothing anyone can do about it. We have gone from a country with freedom and liberties to a country that is locking down nearly as badly as China.

Anonymous Coward says:

‘at some point, they’re going to get smacked down by a court’

the sooner the better! and to all the trolls that will say they see nothing wrong with what happened, swap shoes with those that were just in this position and see how you like having your business completely disrupted for NO KNOWN LEGITIMATE REASON AND BEING GIVEN NO EXPLANATION!

Eponymous Coward (profile) says:

There’s a bit more on this story over at Ars Technica http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/02/secret-service-asks-for-shutdown-of-legit-website-over-user-content-godaddy-complies.ars

Looks like the root cause was that there were some spam/phishing forms hosted through Jotform. Jotform stated that they try to keep the site free of this crap, and suspended around 65,000 accounts last year for phishing offenses.

It’s still a horseshit call, especially by GoDaddy, but at least some more info is starting to get out.

adamj says:

BOYCOTT GODADDY! Apparently they didn’t get enough of the public’s wrath with the SOPA issue. So, they took down a client’s domain without hesitation or any prior notice on a questionable claim? Wow. If this is how Godaddy runs its business then any domain that is registered there is subject to suspension at the drop of a hat. Godaddy seems to just roll over when any legacy company or the government pokes it with a stick. Why not stick up for your clients or at least give them a “heads up” when there is a complaint about them? Perhaps Godaddy can’t do that as it seems their head has been placed directly up their collective ass.

byte^me (profile) says:

Re:

That’s not the first time that has happened to GoDaddy customers. Insecure.org, the home of the security tool nmap was registered with GoDaddy a few years ago.

I don’t recall all of the details and I don’t have time to look them up right now, but GoDaddy yanked their domain with no warning after a complaint.

Needless to say, insecure.org is now using a different registrar.

Violated (profile) says:

Them crazy Americans

Is this not the common American way of shoot first and find out if you have a valid victim afterwards?

Well what can you say to this one. Some psycho bitch in the US Secret Service took it down for a laugh. “Why?” is a question we may never find out.

This only leaves me thinking that the Internet needs its own Bill of Rights to clarify how the Governments of the World can correctly interface with this network. Well that and the rights of the citizens who use it.

That would sure be an historic day.

Beta (profile) says:

Never ascribe to malice...

This really looks like a mistake, if you ask me.

1) Somebody at the SS notices phishing form, goes all Eliot Ness without understanding the whole interweb thing, makes a couple of phone calls.
2) GoDaddy folds like jackknife.
3) JotForm calls GoDaddy, GoDaddy passes buck back to the SS.
4) Phone rings on desk of the agent nominally in charge of this kind of thing. She has never heard of JotForm, doesn’t know why it was shut down, but must save face: “I have to review the case; I’ll get back to you in a few days.”
5) She hangs up, looks over case, confirms gross overreaction, sets wheels in motion to lift embargo with no admission of ineptitude by SS. (Identifies underling responsible, makes note on calendar to tear said underling a new one.)

In this case it took only a few days, not a year. That’s progress, I suppose.

byte^me (profile) says:

What are the laws regarding this?

While I agree that the government has been wrong with the recent domain seizures, are there any laws that justify this or are they just assuming they have the right based on a broad interpretation of other laws?

The one thing I find interesting is that some people claim this is a 1st Amendment issue, but it’s really not. the 1st Amendment says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

If there are no specific laws that justify this but instead are using a broad interpretation of other laws, then it’s really not a 1st Amendment issue.

Disturbing and wrong? Yes. Violating the Constitution? Technically, no. Either way, it’s very sad.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

What are the laws regarding this?

1st Amendment requirements go a bit beyond the exact text in the constitution. The courts have analyzed and clarified it several times – and one thing they have strongly asserted is that any legal remedy targeting an expressive activity must be narrowly tailored to only eliminate the offending speech and do minimal collateral damage to protected speech. It doesn’t seem like that happened here, which is why a lot of us feel that it may be a 1st Amendment issue – and even if, legally, it turns out not to be (only a court could decide) it is still a worrying encroachment of government powers on free speech.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think the funniest part of all of this is all I can picture is Mike having a steaming little rant like a 4 year old screaming “censorship, censorship, censorship!”.

My feeling is that while the domain was in limbo some serious data collection was being made to see who was trying to pull certain forms. I am thinking this actually goes somewhere legally.

For Jotform, it should be a wakeup call: If you are going to offer a completely open, anyone can use it for anything product, you should expect this to become a regular part of your business.

They shut of 65,000 phishing forms last year alone. I think they have a serious business model problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

Them crazy Americans

Whoah whoah whoah, calm down with this “typical american” bullshit. Just because these assholes are in charge doesn’t mean the vast majority of us want them in charge or have any power to change things.

People have no power to get people nominated for an office that actually matters, many people doing this crap aren’t even elected officials (they’re appointed by elected officials), and even from there, we’ve lived through 2 terms of a president who didn’t even win the popular vote.

So don’t blame us, we’re just stuck with this crap like the rest of the world.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

And I think the funniest part of this is the way shills find a way to spin things so people actually doing bad things aren’t at blame, but the platform they use is.

If that’s the case, why aren’t you screaming for gun companies to be shut down? Or car companies? Both can and have been used to kill people illegally.

Because that would be ridiculous, since both have plenty of legit uses, and so does a website like this.

GMacGuffin says:

Reparations?

Despite having a pretty leak-proof Terms of Service, there are still ways to get to GoDaddy in extreme circumstances. Last year GoDaddy took a hit in court for wrongfully transferring a domain name.

http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2011/05/ohio_appeals_co_1.htm

… and sometimes, just sometimes, one can get at the government too (but no opinion on this case).

Scott@DreamlandVisions (profile) says:

Go Daddy

I wouldn’t say it was a flop.

They net was positive, but how much higher would it have been without the mass exodus?

If you have 10,000 people leave your business and 12,000 join, then you’re net gain for the period is 2,000. But you still *lost* 10,000 people who would have been there in addition to the 12,000.

Instead of ending up with 22,000 people, you have 12,000.

(numbers are random and for illustrative purposes. Actual numbers were higher, I’m just too lazy to look them up)

Richard (profile) says:

Re:

Hmm – If we took your ideas seriuosly it would pretty much cripple most new technology.

If we’d listened to the likes of you, motor vehicles would still be preceded by a man carrying a red flag.

People do (FAR more) phishing attacks through the post, over the phone, throught regular email and by using the web directly – yet none of that ever gets taken down – so why single jotform out for this treatment?

I’ve had half a dozen phishing phone attacks in the last few months (and that’s only when I happened to be in during the day – no one knows how often they have tried) Does the phone service get switched off? No – of course not.

Jotform only gets hit because it is different, small and vulnerable.

Stuart says:

Re:

why should the citizens be obligated to follow laws that the government is not?

We are not obligated to follow law that the US government does not. That is one of the benefits to this type of government.

Of course even though we are not obligated to follow law that the government does not recognize it has come to my attention that the government has mostly disarmed the people and has the advantage. Freedom only lasts as long as you can keep it.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Reparations?

but Jotform won’t be able to bring a civil action against either the Gov or GoDaddy correct?

GoDaddy is most likely covered from being liable in any way by the fine print in whatever agreement you have to click to register a domain with them.

But I see no reason why they don’t have a case against the government. The Secret Service sent some kind of request or order to GoDaddy without due process. The problem is that they’re not saying what happened, and litigating a case like this can be expensive, so there’s a lot of work for Jotform to do before they can get a ruling.

Berenerd (profile) says:

Re:

So with your logic, ISP’s, Phone companies, companies that build roads, houses, buildings, guns, knives, axes, hammers, pesticides, video games, operating systems, etc should all be shut down because they have potential to be used for illegal means…Good luck with that because the ICE and DOJ and the rest of the government should be shut down as well because the money to spend on things like ICE and give to other countries and such can be used for illegal activities as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Richard, your hyperbole isn’t really painting a true picture here.

Are you suggesting that there were more than 65,000 phishing scams set up in the US in the last year alone? Not 65,000 calls, but 65,000 operations setup? That would be nearly 200 new phishing scams off the internet every day?

That just covers what Jotform found with their automated system. It clearly doesn’t cover the ones that they miss, because it seems there are plenty of them that have been live long enough for people to complain.

As for the “on the phone” phishing attempts, they are pretty rare these days, because (shock!) law enforcement takes action against them. There has been a minor upswing in the last couple of years, mostly because of (shock!) new technology that allows people hiding overseas to appear to be in the US. The whole “windows support” phishing scam was run out of India and Central America, using phone networks like Skype.

Few people are going to try to phone phish you directly, because they know they will get caught. The technical holes they use to get through are being closed, with authorities taking steps along the way.

Free one open services that allow people to set up apparently legit things online are really huge security holes. Jotform’s system is pretty much the perfect system for phishing, and it’s something they have had a problem with for years.

Craig (profile) says:

Corporatocracy

Gov’t regulators everywhere are directed by corporations which results in the rights of the Individual being trumped. When regular people protest, a la “Occupy Movement”, those individuals are mocked by not only the mainstream media, but by ordinary citizens.

Here in the west, we have forgotten what it means to stand up for ourselves, and when we do, we are mocked for it. Signing online petitions is one thing, but it doesn’t take courage to do, nor does it give you any sense of what is potentially lost.

This will continue for decades, I’m sure. The lure of campaign contributions will always dominate the actions of lawmakers.

I’m not a proponent of anarchy and chaos, but I do assert that until we gather in public and in real numbers, our blog posts and digital petitions will only have so much impact since we are essentially preaching to the converted.

We are allowing our rights to be taken from us day by day. The government, the police, you name it, have over-reaching power that should never have been authorized. We piss and moan about it, but that’s about it.

Think about it – the day has come when you can be standing on your own property or on public property and the police can arrest you for the simple act of taking a photograph. Someone, anyone – tell me – am I wrong in this? I sure hope I am.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re:

They shut of 65,000 phishing forms last year alone. I think they have a serious business model problem.

What planet do you live on? 65,000 out of their 2 million forms and hundreds of thousands of customers is a tiny percentage.

They have established procedures for dealing with abuse. Instead of using them, the Secret Service decided to wipe the entire site out of existence.

Practically every free or low cost service has to deal with phishing or spam abuse. Do all of those services also have business model problems?

If your computer is infected with malware, there’s a good chance that you’re hosting some piece of a phishing site or spewing thousands of spam emails. Should your internet connection be shut down with no notice, no due process, and then when you contact the government they tell you you have to wait a week before they even tell you what happened, let alone fix it?

byte^me (profile) says:

What are the laws regarding this?

I definitely agree that these actions are cause for concern. I was just questioning the 1st Amendment claims. I did not realize the courts had ruled on similar issues to help clarify this further.

Between these actions and other laws, such as the PATRIOT act and the recent NDA, I’m very worried about what the country will look like for future generations.

Anonymous Coward says:

What are the laws regarding this?

Another day, another Marcus tall tale.

Don’t you think it’s odd that the authorities appear to have done EXACTLY as discussed yesterday, pulling the domain down long enough to collect some evidence, to check some things out, and then allowed business to continue as normal?

Seems more like police coming into a night club to check IDs, having the music turned off while they do it, and then leaving once they find everything to be in order.

Oh look… the real world strikes again!

Jason (profile) says:

Re:

You are waaaaaay to optimistic about the lack of phone based scams. I get at least two calls a week.

But to mirror your argument with the Jotform case. What they did to jotform because of some if its bad users would be like the government shutting down the phone company because scammers were using it.

I don’t know how someone can be such a pathetic shill like you are. I mean calling your ideas and concepts fascist would be an understatement.

And your constant hiding behind the Anonymous Coward name is pretty lameass too. Use your real name, or at least something original. But considering almost everything you post is pure regurgatated drivel from the content industry, maybe you can’t think of anything original.

gorehound (profile) says:

godaddy the problem

Why is anyone still using godaddy anyways ?
There should be a big protest aimed at godaddy.That Company needs to just roll over already.Move your websites/domains elsewhere.
And on another Note stuff like this News just makes me even madder at Washington.I really hate our Gove4rnment in a big way !!! Both Parties can lick my dog’s butt.So wish both of them could be voted out of our lives.

Colin (user link) says:

Found this interesting quote from the Ars Technica article:

“We are a multimillion dollar Canadian company that has used jotform the last year for customer inquires,” said another. “They have been very reliable. However because of what has happened now we will have to implement an internally hosted solution to guarantee this will not happen again and ensure we will not loose [sic] our data. I will now have to question purchasing any more services from US internet related providers.”

Good thing this is protecting American jobs!

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/02/secret-service-asks-for-shutdown-of-legit-website-over-user-content-godaddy-complies.ars?clicked=related_right

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Go Daddy

But you still *lost* 10,000 people who would have been there in addition to the 12,000.

Sorry, going to have to call BS on that one. That’s as tenuous as a media company claiming to have “lost” ?10bn they didn’t have in the first place due to piracy. If they’re still growing they’ve “lost” nothing, their growth has just slowed. An effect sure, which may even have scared them a bit, but not a loss.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re:

That would be nearly 200 new phishing scams off the internet every day?

That’s easily plausible. Even if 200 completely new scams aren’t appearing every day, it’s easy to see how one scammer can setup multiple forms using throwaway email addresses from Hotmail.

As for the “on the phone” phishing attempts, they are pretty rare these days,

Really? I was just getting calls a month ago that were blatantly obvious scams. Despite it being the same voice, the heavily accented voice identified as “Bob Smith” “Adam Smith” and “John Brown” over a poor quality connection that sounded like a VoIP service to me. He was demanding payment and threatening me with lawyers, and when I asked for any information about this supposed debt he became angry, and as soon as I mentioned the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act he hung up.

Free one open services that allow people to set up apparently legit things online are really huge security holes.

Look, I know you want the internet to turn into a big broadcast medium where only big entertainment companies can get a message out, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world does too. The only “security hole” this incident shows is ability of the government to shut down millions of cases of protected speech.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re:

As for the “on the phone” phishing attempts, they are pretty rare these days, because (shock!) law enforcement takes action against them.

Now wait a minute here. I don’t seem to recall the USG closing down AT&T’s entire phone network even for an hour or two in order for them catch a phishing scam operator or two. With the obvious differences of scale and the fact that it’s the internet these are pretty much the same scenario.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Josh, the phone calls you got match up perfectly with what I posted above. VoIP or Skype has become a very simple way for scammers in foreign countries to try to hit people in the US with various scams.

“ook, I know you want the internet to turn into a big broadcast medium where only big entertainment companies can get a message out, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world does too. “

FUCK NO! That isn’t what I want at all. All I want is for people to take some responsibility for what happens with the services they provide. Know who you are dealing with, building business models that have low failure / scam rates, and generally provide the services that they promise.

I want all of the new businesses to get a chance, but as a consumer, I don’t want these services to be able to cut corners that offline businesses could not cut legally. I don’t want “service providers” to be able to turn a blind eye towards blatant illegal activities, under the guise of being “too big to check”.

Jotform could very, very easily have enough people to review forms that are created. Use their automated system to filter out the obvious, send the rest past human review.

You don’t think so, do you? Let’s see.

2 million forms. You can load 1 every 20 seconds, 3 per minute. An employee working 40 hours a week could check 7200 forms per week. With a total of 2 million forms (claimed) on their system, they could get through the backlog in 3 months with only 4 employees.

Ongoing, they could handle 1 million forms per year with just those same 4 employees. That would add, what a couple of hundred thousand a year of expenses? If the business model cannot support that, perhaps the business model itself is somehow lacking.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

What are the laws regarding this?

Yah I realized after I posted that you absolutely agreed it’s concerning 🙂

In addition to the case linked by the A.C, look up United States vs. O’Brien and the compare it to Arcara vs. Cloud Books. The former was a first amendment issue, the latter was not, and it underlines the different factors quite nicely.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re:

Gwiz, if 10% of all phone calls were scams, you don’t think they would be looking MUCH more closely?

Sure they would look at more closely at it and I would expect them too.

But, even if 10% or even 20% of the phone calls were scams are you honestly going to try and tell me that the USG would attempt to take down AT&T’s entire phone network in order to investigate it? But, in JotForm’s case that is completely acceptable? Where is the difference besides scale? I’m not seeing it.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

What are the laws regarding this?

Obligatory STSTFU … Its more like finding a couple hundred phone numbers in the 212 exchange are bookmakers. Then shutting down all of Manhattans phones because of it. Its prior restraint, a disruption of business, and complete over kill.

There are so many interconnections between so many companies you can never tell how a small change will cascade outward. One of these days they are going to shut down a B2B site or domain that services some critical piece of infrastructure, or medical service. If it happens during an emergency situation people could die.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re:

Josh, the phone calls you got match up perfectly with what I posted above. VoIP or Skype has become a very simple way for scammers in foreign countries to try to hit people in the US with various scams.

Exactly my point. It’s trivially easy and extremely common. You were the one trying to claim that it was “rare these days” when it is undoubtedly not rare. Your solution to this is to block Skype and other VoIP providers because they have to “take some responsibility for what happens” and “know who [they] are dealing with” and not “turn a blind eye towards blatantly illegal activities, under the guise of being “too big to check”.”

I see your cognitive dissonance detector is malfunctioning. Or is it being overridden by your paradox absorbing crumple zones?

2 million forms. You can load 1 every 20 seconds,

20 seconds to review something for abuse? You’re crazy.

Even if it was plausible, your math is horrible.

2 million forms. 2,000,000

3 forms per minute. 2,000,000 / 3 = 666,667 minutes

60 minutes in an hour. 666,667 / 60 = 11,111 hours

8 hour day of work. 11,111 / 8 = 1,389 days

4 employees. 1389 / 4 = 347 days of work per employee

In what universe is 347 working days 3 months?

2 million forms / 7200 forms checked per week = 278 weeks to check 2 million.

278 weeks to check / 4 employees = 69.5 weeks per employee

I think your mistake was in assuming that was 69.5 days. You’re off by a factor of 5. So instead of 3 months, it is well over a year.

Now, even if they paid a team of people to go over every single form, are they guaranteed from not being shut down? What if a form slips through and the abuse ends up on the desk of a clueless Secret Service agent?

You claim you want business to have a chance. How is burdening a startup like this giving them a chance?

No matter what goes on in your confused mind, there is no possible way that any business, be it Youtube and the 48 hours of video uploaded every minute, or Jotform and its 2 million forms, can have a human being check every single piece of user generated content and make any kind of reasonable determination. It is utterly impossible.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Just wanted to make one correction to what you said Josh (wholeheartedly agree with everything you and pretty much everyone else has said to this obvious troll AC), Youtube no longer gets 48 hours of video uploaded every minute.

Less than a month ago, there was an article on Engadget, The Verge, and a few other sites about this subject.

Youtube now has 60 hours of video uploaded to it EVERY minute. For those keeping score (and who suck at math, coughTrollACcough) that is 2 AND 1/2 DAYS OF VIDEO. UPLOADED. EVERY. MINUTE.

Think about that for more than a second and realize that YOU (aiming this at the AC, not you Josh) are being completely unrealistic in anything you have said so far or are advocating for.

As some others have already said, what you advocate for if applied on a much grander scale would result in the following: the shutting down of essentially every single thing on the planet (as it can all be used potentially for illegal things).

nasch (profile) says:

Re:

Youtube now has 60 hours of video uploaded to it EVERY minute. For those keeping score (and who suck at math, coughTrollACcough) that is 2 AND 1/2 DAYS OF VIDEO. UPLOADED. EVERY. MINUTE.

So all they need is to hire another 11,000 full time employees to screen videos (assuming the upload rate doesn’t increase). If they can’t afford that, maybe there’s a problem with their business model. Right, AC?

nasch (profile) says:

Re:

If you are going to offer a completely open, anyone can use it for anything product, you should expect this to become a regular part of your business.

If you offer a legal service that allows your customers to do what they want with it, including illegal things, you can expect to be shut down by the federal government at some point. Sadly, the way things are going you may be right.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

No problem. Here’s a few links.

Engadget
“YouTube hits 4 billion views per day, deals with 60 hours of uploaded content every minute (Update: Count it in nyans)”
http://www.engadget.com/2012/01/23/youtube-hit-4-billion-views-per-day-deals-with-60-hours-of-uplo/

The Verge
“YouTube now serves more than 4 billion daily video views”
http://www.theverge.com/2012/1/23/2727012/youtube-4-billion-daily-video-views

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Well, according to the AC up above, the answer is “Yes, if they can’t afford to do that then there is a problem with their business model.”

But as you and I and Josh and plenty of others seem to know and realize, that is most definitely not the correct answer. Then again, we seem to be rational people who use logic in our arguments. We also seem to believe in innocent until proven guilty, due process, going after the correct parties, etc.

The AC above would rather do away with all of that. Or to put it very basically (in essentially the terms and arguments he’s used already), “If you can’t screen everything all the time, you’re to blame and responsible if it’s used illegally. If you can’t afford to screen everything all the time, your business model sucks.”

Baldaur Regis (profile) says:

Never ascribe to malice...

You got it, with one expansion:

A domain registrar/hoster suspends an entire domain -and a business- based on a request from a law enforcement agency: no warrant, no due process, a simple request.

Since this is GoDaddy’s stated policy, no laws were broken; there will be no legal repercussions.

How long will it be before other police agencies regardless of where they are in the world add this simple procedure to their arsenal?

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Corporatocracy

Not totally because if some corporations have their way we’ll be arrested just for HAVING a camera.

The only thing you’ve left out of the possible solutions is the get off your lazy duff and VOTE. Not everyone in the US Congress is safe, though some Senators seem to be “elected” for life. The idea is to toss the bad ones out. Enough of them that those who are left get the idea that they may not be there long enough to get those cushy jobs they’ve been promised at Cockroach Entertainment Inc because they don’t have the connections long timers have.

At the very base of it people have to vote them out. You liked SOPA/PIPA? Get ready to go on the dole and we mean it. Until that sort of thing happens Congress critters will suck up to the man with the money and forget the electorate because the electorate has proven it can be ignored.

Anonymous Coward says:

What are the laws regarding this?

As always, I paid close attention. I watch Marcus get his ass handed to him repeatedly, slowly retreating to the final foxhole before total failure. I let him off at that point, it was just too long to try to educate him.

Now today we have the domain returned, as speculated. Yet Marcus can’t handle that either.

He’s a dufus, he lost, and he’s too stupid to know it.

Richard (profile) says:

Re:

As for the “on the phone” phishing attempts, they are pretty rare these days, because (shock!) law enforcement takes action against them.

Not in my experience – based on the accents they seem to be based in the subcontinent – tough for law enforcement to follow up.

Plus the model they seem top follow is typical copyright troll practice. On your arguments we should shut down copyright because it is so often abused – and just let the “legitimate” users of copyright go hang…

Rik says:

What are the laws regarding this?

It may not violate the first amendment, but it certainly violates the fifth amendment, which states (among other things) that the government may not deprive anyone of their property without due process of law.

The bill of rights only has 10 articles. Reading them all really is not that hard, and I recommend everybody read them.

JohnnyRotten (profile) says:

What are the laws regarding this?

Don’t you think it’s odd that the authorities appear to have done EXACTLY as discussed yesterday, pulling the domain down long enough to collect some evidence, to check some things out, and then allowed business to continue as normal?

They didn’t collect any evidence at all. All they did was keep internet traffic from being able to reach the .com address for a few days, while allowing it to reach the .net.

Evidence in this context could only mean collecting it off the wire (eavesdropping) or pulling it from their servers. This action did neither.

Dave Zan (user link) says:

What are the laws regarding this?

but it certainly violates the fifth amendment, which states (among other things) that the government may not deprive anyone of their property without due process of law.

One possible catch to that is a domain name isn’t someone’s “property”, especially when one’s registrar contract defines what it isn’t. If anything, perhaps another amendment addressing one’s contractual rights might be in order, though I imagine that’ll be a nightmare.

Al Bert (profile) says:

Holy christ on a fudgesicle, why do you guys even respond to the trolls at all? The irrational and delusional, by definition of their condition, cannot be reasoned with. All the informative responses that get pissed away on combating a perpetual flood of eternal morons need to go to the eyes and ears of the cognizant uninformed.

I know you like beating them with the truth stick, I really do. You have to understand that it doesn’t hurt them at all.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

*wanders past*
Wheres TAM so I can kick him again….

Once again it shouldn’t take getting a ton of publicity to get the right things to happen.
This shouldn’t have happened, but it is going to keep happening as some providers will fold at the first whisper of anything to avoid getting the extra special attention of an annoyed official focused on them.

I do not think it is asking to much that the government actually force their employees to understand basic underlying technologies before running around making demands that will end in in court, where the government will need use more smoke and mirrors to keep from being found at fault.

Anonymous Coward says:

Bleh

What seems to be entirely forgotten in this story is…

Go Daddy expressly reserves the right to deny, cancel, terminate, suspend, lock, or modify access to (or control of) any Account or Services (including the right to cancel or transfer any domain name registration) for any reason (as determined by Go Daddy in its sole and absolute discretion) etc. etc.

I agree that this was an unneeded suspension, but it was in all likelyhood GoDaddy’s fault by overacting on reports of phishing forms being used via the site, not the fault of evil Men in Black looking to eat your internet babies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Yes, actually I have, thanks. It’s a fun game.

There are many obvious things you can look for, external links, images, and the like. Automated tools can pull those images, make sure nothing else loads with them, etc. You can check the form for basic concepts that would tip you off.

Jotform claims to have a filter that knocked off 65,000 of them. Clearly, they have at least a basic understanding of the issue.

Not permitting outside java, as an example, or not permitting outside sourcing of page content is another good way to handle thing.

There is plenty that can be done to automate a process, and make it much less work. I am sure that in 2 million forms, a large number of them would pass pretty much any test you care to toss at them. I am also sure that a large number of them are rarely if ever called, and perhaps might never have to be checked. Checking the 10% most active form would probably do very well, and checking new forms as they added as well.

It is just decided that a process is worth doing, and understanding how it can change your liablity, and change your cost structures. If they are current spending X number of hours a week dealing with scam forms, maybe those hours would be better spent towards checking forms for scams before they get loose in the wild, rather than after.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

“So all they need is to hire another 11,000 full time employees to screen videos (assuming the upload rate doesn’t increase). “

Actually, they would need much less than that.

First off, you have trusted submitters. You don’t have to look too closely at their stuff.

Second, you can use finger printing and other techniques to check to see if a video is a copy of something already removed. That can fix a lot of it.

Finally, if videos are being checked, and accounts for idiots uploading material that they shouldn’t are removed, the number of uploads would drop dramatically. The amount of video uploaded is entirely, in my opinion, proportional to the permissiveness of the system, and how easy it is to game.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

“If your computer is infected with malware, there’s a good chance that you’re hosting some piece of a phishing site or spewing thousands of spam emails. Should your internet connection be shut down with no notice, no due process, and then when you contact the government they tell you you have to wait a week before they even tell you what happened, let alone fix it?”

YES.

It’s akin to your child having the measles, and sending them to daycare anyway for a week while you are waiting for a doctor’s appointment. If the child is visible ill, don’t make everyone else suffer.

If your computer is sick, step 1 is isolation. Step 2 is repair.

If you are contacting the government about your computer not working, you have bigger problems than either of us can deal with.

Anonymous Coward says:

Not GoDaddy, Obama

It irritates me to know end that American political fanboys will find any excuse to take pot shots at “the other side”.

Let’s be clear here: your political system is binary, and that doesn’t mean each party does something opposite. It means that if you don’t like one party’s decisions, you only have one viable alternative, and if their party’s policies aren’t any different, then you’re screwed.

You don’t have progress or change, you have a see-saw.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

I think at that level, the government would be taking action against AT&T to force them to find a solution. AT&T is sadly on the “too big to shut down” list, but trust me when I say that level of scamming on the phones would lead to serious action.

The only other difference is that phones are considered pretty much an essential service, where free form are just that, a freebie.

I think I can see a difference beyond scale.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

First off if they don’t look closely at everyone one group trusted or not will abuse that system, see MGM and Universal taking down things they don’t even own the rights too.

Second fingerprinting is limited in its capabilities, although it can say with some certainty that some material is indeed very similar to another it says nothing about the legal status of that material which can only be ascertained by a court of law under current rules.

Is the fraking industry going to make a centralized registry available? will they share and keep data up to date? will the idiots from the industry agree on a common metadata form that can be used by machines to identify works?

Finally Youtube and other video streaming websites terminate thousands of accounts every month, people just make a new one, how dumb are you?

There are 7 billion people on earth you do the math, there may be a million lawyers that understand copyright and that is it, the rest don’t care and will upload anyting they think it is cool and for every account terminated you get 10 more people realizing they can upload videos.

After freaking 10 years you think you people would get a hint, but apparently you are too damn stupid to realize what you are up against.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

So what it is not their problem is the content owner responsibility to keep his business interests not force others to do it for him, what kind of parasite thinks he is owned by everybody in society to defend his or hers interests?

Specially ones that goes against societal norms.

Go protect your granted monopoly yourself on your own parasite.

P Conces says:

Them crazy Americans

Whoah whoah whoah, calm down with this “Just because these assholes are in charge doesn’t mean the vast majority of us want them in charge or have any power to change things.” Attitudes like yours are the exact reason why the “vast majority” has “no power” to effect change.

“A man with a gun is a citizen. A man without a gun is a subject.”
–John Lott

Mekhong Kurt (profile) says:

The takedown of JetForm.com

It’s now about 11:00 P.M. (EST) Sunday, February 19th and I just tried to go to the company’s web site, but got the message “The connection was rest.” Then I tried jetform.net, and got a 403 Forbidden error message. And I tried both several times each, with the same results every time.

I don’t have any idea if this is relevant, but I am in Bangkok, not the U.S. However, I didn’t get any messages from any Thai government agency, though I sometimes do. (Internet laws here are broad and liberally used by the authorities.)

This takedown is just one more in an increasing parade of “Sins of Shame” by our government. (Yes, I’m an American long resident abroad.) My Thai friends sometimes ask me if the American government is striving to “out-Thai Thailand,” or even to surpass China. I have no answer. With each new act of sheer idiocy — this one apparently at the behest of the *Secret Service* for gawd’s sake! — it appears increasingly likely that I’m going to have to start answering those questions from my local friends with a mournful, disgusted “HELL yes!”

I’ve e-mailed both my Senators and my Congressman (Texas). One Senator is that rarest of creatures, a fairly moderate Republican, but she’ll be retiring, so I don’t look for any meaningful help from her. The other is a staunchly conservative Republican and not favorably disposed towards such complaints. My Congressman, though he has served since well before the Tea Party movement arose, has since closely identified with that movement and is even less likely than my conservative Senator to look on any such complaint with anything other than pure disdain. I’ve also written the White House and the FCC. I’ve also commented far and wide in forums such as this, and e-mailed countless letters-to-the-editor. I write an irregular, infrequent blog and have railed against this sort of cr*p there.

I would do more, if I could figure out just what that might be, given that I’m on the other side of the planet.

It’s bad enough that these takedowns happens entirely “approval-free” as far as our judicial branch is concerned, since it has been excluded from even an ounce of review, never mind any actual, meaningful oversight of such nefarious activities. It’s even worse that various amendments to the Constitution apparently have been unilaterally declared by the Executive branch not to be applicable in such cases:

Fourth Amendment: the entire amendment — “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Fifth Amendment: the penultimate sub-provision therein — “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

Sixth Amendment: if the reason behind the government’s action was based on alleged *criminal* activity, then the entire amendment applies, particularly the “Confrontation Clause” — the right to face one’s accusers. This right was enshrined even in *Roman* law. In looking up the texts for these amendments, I was reminded that the Supreme Court has justified this right by citing the Bible itself — Acts of the Apostles 25:16 (commonly, “The Book of Acts,” or, simply, “Acts”). The right’s thread continues unbroken right up to our contemporary law. Or did.

I hope my fellow Americans continue to bring pressure to bear on both elected and other governmental representatives at *all* levels of government of this abominable, unjustifiable behavior. In the instance of such officials mouthing platitudes about “I’m a Christian,” remind him or her of that passage from Acts as well as the Constitutional amendments. And I urge any of my fellow Americans who haven’t done anything to start becoming engaged in our public civil life, and not just in this instance, but across the board.

Where is the basis in the Constitution for the Executive or Legislative branches of government to make end runs around the Constitution itself, effectively neutering it?

No, I’m not some sort of constitutional lawyer or scholar. In fact, I’m not a lawyer at all. But I CAN read.

Please act now. Raise holy hell.

DyingTruth says:

What are the laws regarding this?

You’re wrong.

“Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech”

The fact that people use computers, smartphones etc. as communication terminals, which they themselves have have various languages to speak in, through and over a vast array platform of communication, makes the ‘internet’ a public/private ‘speech’ forum immune from Congress and thus immune from the lower branches as well.

“Congress shall make no law … abridging … the right of the people peaceably to assemble”

What could possibly be a more peacfully prone way of communicating than not being within physical and visual proximity of those to whom you speak and having the ability to get up and walk away or just ingnore and end the conversation at your own will?

If you follow the trend of where this leads youshould be able to see that the people pulling strings behind the scenes are working and manipulating both sides (the Government(s) and Us the People) into division and eventual conflict, pinning us against one another. We need to remove (permanently) the ‘Official’ status of those to whom we are divided from, that’s the only way to end the current trend of animosity.

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