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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  1. icon
    FUDbuster (profile), 7 Apr 2011 @ 9:27am

    Re: Re:

    I would think it's necessary due to it being a prior restraint issue concerning speech. And what your side has never shown is why couldn't they have a adversarial hearing, just to make sure there isn't Constitutional issues.

    Of course they COULD have a prior adversary hearing. They COULD also order out for Chinese. Who cares? The only relevant issue is whether they MUST. The lengthy history of in rem forfeitures and ex parte seizures suggests that no prior adversary hearing is necessary. The law just doesn't support your point of view. Should it? Maybe so. Maybe that's better. But that's not the point. The point is that the law in fact allows for such seizures on the basis of probable cause alone.

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