UK Domain Seizures: Nominet Admits It's Helped Police Seize 3,000 Sites

from the global-issue dept

While we've been mostly focused on US-based domain name seizures and attempts to expand them using something like COICA, we've also noted that similar issues are being discussed in the UK, where Nominet has now admitted that it's helped police seize about 3,000 domains based simply upon a request from law enforcement. Unlike the US, there isn't even a formal process with a judge rubber stamping the requests. Instead, the police ask, and Nominet is compelled to suspend the domain. In fact, some law enforcement officials are claiming that if Nominet refused their requests, then it would automatically become liable. In other words, police have a fantastic tool for censorship of any website if they want to use it that way. What isn't explained is why law enforcement on both sides of the Atlantic are so damn afraid of actually having an adversarial hearing before seizing a domain. If they're so sure that these sites are illegal, why are they so afraid of facing the site owners in court?

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    Richard (profile), 7 Apr 2011 @ 5:48am

    Worth reading

    Can I encourage you all to read the Open Rights group page (Mike's second link above). It explains how things in the UK are in principle worse (although, at present, in practice better) than the US.
    Also a comment from Simon Hopkins at the bottom of the page is priceless:

    "...Nominet and others are liable under the Proceeds of Crime Act if they do not suspend sites once they are made aware that criminal acts may be taking place on domains..."

    Isn't this similar in principal to saying the same to the Local Authority because the Place Names or Road Signs enable the crime location to be more easily found (better than a map reference, like IP) thus the crime more easily perpetrated?"

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