City Of London Police Issue Vague, Idiotic Warning To Registrars That They're Engaged In Criminal Behavior Because It Says So

from the say-what? dept

This was mentioned briefly in our recent post about EasyDNS changing how it deals with online pharmacies, but it's still dealing with bizarre requests from the City of London Police. As we've been detailing, the City of London Police seem to think that (1) their job is to protect the business model of the legacy entertainment industry and (2) that they can do this globally, despite actually just representing one-square mile and (3) that they can do this entirely based on their own say so, rather than any actual court ruling. It started last year when the City of London Police started ordering registrars to transfer domains to the police based entirely on their say so, rather than any sort of due process/trial that found the sites guilty of violating a law. The police wanted the domains to point to sites that the legacy entertainment industry approved of, which makes you wonder why the police are working on behalf of one particular industry and acting as an ad campaign for them.

Speaking of advertising, the City of London Police's more recent tactic is inserting ridiculous and misleading banner ads on websites based on a secret blacklist that has no oversight and no due process or way to appeal. Such lists often include perfectly legitimate sites. But, I'm sure we can trust the City of London Police to get this right, given that the guy in charge of the City of London Police's Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), Adrian Leppard, believes that "the Tor" is 90% of the internet and that "Bitnet" is a "huge risk and threat to our society."

The latest move, as detailed in a post by Mark Jeftovic from EasyDNS, is sending registrars like EasyDNS a "notice of criminality" that doesn't directly tell the company to do anything, other than to think long and hard about who they do business with.
Classification: NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED
Dear Sir or Madam,

Notice of Criminality

[domain name redacted by easyDNS]

EASYDNS TECHNOLOGIES, INC.

Receipt of this email serves as notice that the aforementioned domain, managed by EASYDNS TECHNOLOGIES, INC. 28/03/2014 is being used to facilitate criminal activity, including offences under:

Fraud Act 2006
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988
Serious Crime Act 2007

We respectfully request that EASYDNS TECHNOLOGIES, INC. give consideration to your ongoing business relationship with the owners/purchasers of the domain to avoid any future accusations of knowingly facilitating the movement of criminal funds.

Should you require any clarification please do not hesitate to make contact.

Kind regards,

PIPCU Anti-Piracy | Operations | Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit | PIPCUantipiracy@cityoflondon.police.uk<PIPCUantipiracy@cityoflondon.police.uk > | Address: City of London Police Economic Crime Directorate, 21 New Street, London, EC2M 4TP | ü www.cityoflondon.police.uk<http://www.cityoflondon.police.uk/>

As Jeftovic notes, the implication here is pretty clear. The City of London Police wants to "build a case" that EasyDNS is somehow responsible for aiding and abetting criminal activity.
Once again, we are being asked to do (something, we're actually not sure what this time) based entirely on an allegation which has never been tested in a court of law and has been afforded absolutely zero "due process". (The domain in question is a search engine that hosts no content).

[....]

We think this time the intent is not to actually get the domain name taken down, but rather to build some sort of "case" (I won't call it legal, perhaps the better word would be "kafka-esque") that we, easyDNS by mere "Receipt of this email" are now knowingly allowing domains under management to be "used to facilitate criminal activity".

Thus, if we don't takedown the domains PIPCU want us to, when they want us to, then we may face accusations in the future (in their own words) "of knowingly facilitating the movement of criminal funds."

Which of course, we don't know at all because there has never even been a court case anywhere to test the PIPCU allegations. I know I never went to law school or anything, but in my mind, until that happens, that is all they are – allegations.
And, of course, it's tough to see how the City of London Police have any jurisdiction at all over EasyDNS, a Canadian company. Jeftovic goes on to wonder if the City of London Police are actually defaming the websites they accuse in these notices. Of course, the problem is that these sites tend to be small and powerless. As we've seen with sites like Dajaz1 and Rojadirecta, even after they were taken down and businesses were destroyed for over a year before the Justice Department in the US simply dropped the cases and handed back the domain names, there was little those sites could do in response. Sure, they could have filed a lawsuit, but lawsuits are expensive, and a lawsuit for a tiny struggling website against the US government? That's just not likely to get anywhere productive.

What's extra troubling is how this tactic of targeting registrars for non-judicial censorship like this is becoming increasingly common -- and it's happening in countries like the US and the UK which claim to support basic principles of due process and are (supposedly) against prior restraint. When it comes to the City of London Police, they seem to be operating without any sort of controls or oversight, just making it up as they go along. Unfortunately, because they're "the police," it doesn't seem likely that anyone will get them to cut out this censorious and harassing activity.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Michael, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 9:29am

    I'm not sure why any business or person that lives outside the City of London would do anything that the City of London Police order them to do.

    Clearly these guys are off the reservation, but I highly doubt that they are going to send officers around the world to try to enforce their bogus orders.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Michael, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 9:33am

    Re:

    I would also think that an appropriate response from EasyDNS may be to simply redirect any requests from IP addresses within the limits of the City of London to a page that says something like: "Due to orders from the City of London Police, we are unable to continue to serve content to people in your area."

    It cannot hurt EasyDNS THAT much to lose that business for awhile, and all of the people impacted would be concentrated in a single voting district - that may have more impact on the police in that district than anything.

     

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  3.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 9:35am

    Re:

    Clearly these guys are off the reservation, but I highly doubt that they are going to send officers around the world to try to enforce their bogus orders.

    NYPD has a thing or two to say about it. Maybe City of London is so peaceful and free of crime like New York that the police are now being altruistic and offering their helping hand to the rest of the world?

     

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  4.  
    icon
    Ima Fish (profile), Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 9:38am

    "bizarre requests from the City of London Police"

    Bizarre indeed. Everyone knows the NYPD has exclusive jurisdiction in this matter.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Michael, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 9:46am

    Re: Re:

    The NYPD is not going around the world enforcing NY law.

    They are going around the world...well...I guess doing stuff that has nothing to do with being a NY police officer. Come to think of it, they are even more ridiculous.

    Carry on.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 9:46am

    Re:

    You are greatly mistaken.

    Stupid, Bizarre, and ignorant well... they just so happen to have an enormous amount of competition in the race to the bottom.

    “Two things are infinite, as far as we know – the universe and human stupidity.” To-day we know that this statement is not quite correct. Einstein has proved that the universe is limited.
    http://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/05/04/universe-einstein/

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 9:47am

    what is happening here is typical of what the UK has become, namely a miniature replica of the USA! and it's obvious that the CoLP are exactly what is said, ie, a private police force, paid for out of UK tac payers money, to try to do exactly what the mainly USA entertainment industries want. if this isn't breaking what little law there seems to be left in the UK, i dont know what is! what is the UK government going to do when the next industry that wants special treatment comes begging? it would be difficult to deny them, given what it is doing on behalf of Hollywood etc. that would then make the UK even worse than places like China! Cameron has tried to make the country how he wants it, not how the people want it. he needs to be ousted asap i think. here's hoping that happens in the UK next year! they snuggling up to the NSA by GCHQ hasn't done it any favors either!

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Michael, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 9:50am

    Re:

    the UK has become, namely a miniature replica of the USA

    F***ing pirates.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 9:55am

    Re:

    Actually, its the USA becoming more like everyone else.

    The USA was not first in human history to allow businesses to pay the police to eliminate their competition. We are just one of the last, and because we used to be generally viewed as the good guys and a force of liberty and freedom in the world it is just damn more noticeable when we do it. The fact that every other nasty nation on the planet has this shit in spades just does not set a lot of radars off.

    Not saying this is justification... just saying that you have your order of guilt backwards.

    USA is not perfect, but in most cases, it is guilty last because of our heritage... and with the current trend with the likes of Clintoon, Bushtard, and Obama the Anti-American well... lets just say we have fallen very far, so far that the only solution might be for those still caring about liberty may have no choice but to lay a path of blood across the nation in its restoration. You are a prime example of someone who may know "quite nothing" of history concerning the humans of the world.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 9:56am

    Re: Re:

    One small snag with your idea:

    How do you determine that a given IP address is "within the limits of the City of London"?

    IP addresses are assigned to ISPs, not to geographical regions. Even knowing where the IP address was allocated is not enough. For instance, I've heard recently of IP addresses allocated in Brazil being used in other Latin America countries.

    And that before considering VPNs and other remote access technologies (like wireless point-to-point links - the City of London is nested within a larger city).

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 10:04am

    A possible response...

    I'm sorry. Where exactly in Canada did you say you were located?

     

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  12.  
    icon
    Doug (profile), Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 10:07am

    Inside Job

    Shhhhh! CoLP have been infiltrated at the highest levels by an organization whose mission is to get CoLP disbanded. Their strategy is working perfectly. Just let it play out!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 10:15am

    what is truly criminal is that this small bunch of total USA entertainment industries lackeys is more concentrated on getting some poor fucker into court, bankrupted, have the family destroyed and every single thing they have taken from them and then thrown into jail over doing something as trivial as sharing a digital file than having a police force doing as much as it possibly could to save something like 1400 child sex slaves! please explain to me how it is more important to stop a film being shared than saving children? these industries have used the 'child porn' card for a long time, using it to get web sites closed or blocked when there was nothing on the sites of that nature. now they need this tactic turned against them in all it's force!!

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 10:16am

    We respectfully request

    We respectfully request that Techdirt give consideration to your ongoing interference with out activities to avoid any future accusations of suggesting we are abusing authority we don't actually possess.

    Should you require any clarification please do not hesitate to make contact.

    Kind regards,

    PIPCU Anti-Piracy | Operations | Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit | PIPCUantipiracy@cityoflondon.police.uk

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    Duke (profile), Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 10:26am

    A couple of thoughts

    Firstly, I'm not sure if CoLP is actually trying to build a case against the DNS provider (although they probably think they could get an extradition request if needed), but more that they think they are being helpful - that DNS providers like EasyDNS don't want to host these sorts of sites and that CoLP is doing them a favour by politely letting them know their customers are evil criminals.

    I imagine CoLP are pretty firm in their belief that the people who run the sites are "evil criminal scum" and therefore no one would want to do business with them.

    The other possibility relates to the inclusion of the Serious Crime Act in that list of scary laws. I'm not sure I've seen that one included before, but it covers things like "encouraging or assisting an offence believing it will be committed" - which requires that belief, and the friendly CoLP email may go some way to demonstrating that EasyDNS knew offences might happen.

    Again, assuming any offences are actually occurring. So far Fact Ltd is something like 1 for 4 in prosecutions against website operators.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 10:28am

    With the CoLP having only roughly a 1 mile jurisdiction I'm having a hard time with this one too.

    http://torrentfreak.com/uk-police-make-third-pirate-streaming-arrest-140902/

    They had to go 200 miles just to find this guy. We're not even talking about Canada. Sooner or later with these actions they be in court dealing with the matter of jurisdiction.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    the threat to peace is the USA, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 10:36am

    solution

    cut off the city of london form all registrars....

    when ever business that has a .whatever suddenly is told cause the city says they might be illegal crap will change.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 10:52am

    Re: solution

    No internet, no piracy. Simple!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 10:54am

    Re: A couple of thoughts

    Thanks for providing that summary... Very useful.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Roger Strong (profile), Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 11:14am

    Re: A possible response...

    London, Ontario.

    We assumed jurisdiction when we found out that they had violated the copyright on the name of our city and police force.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 11:34am

    Re:

    This comment would be far more insightful if it wasn't referring to two different police forces with no mutual jurisdiction...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 12:12pm

    Re: solution

    Hmm. That may be a very elegant solution. Determine all of the IP addresses that are in use by the City of London, and redirect them to a "Construction in Progess" page.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 12:17pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    No to mention that there may well be no one in the city of London who uses EasyDNS, so this action will have a real, albeit small, cost and only symbolic (if that) benefit.

    As for the citizenry rising up and holding the police to account, that citizenry numbers barely 7000 - total, not electorate - and the corporations located with the City also get to vote... The City is largely governed by corporations, for corporations, those corporations being collectively wealthier and more powerful than any sane DNS provider would willingly tangle with.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    simple, shut down all access to IP's located in the entire area of London.

    I mean, those are just some pesky foreigners who have NO IDEA that the city of London police has just jurisdiction in the few city blocks the city of London is located in.

    I guess that would get the point across rather nicely.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, the IP addresses are geographically allocated. That might not mean you can define an IP address to an exact geographical border, but you can get pretty close in a large metro. The more sparsely populated areas are harder to define because the IP pool would be spread out more because the subscriber pool is more spread out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    Roger Strong (profile), Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You can often get pretty close.

    Google and the sites that guess my static IP address's location are finally figuring out that it's in Manitoba. For the last couple years they showed it in various locations in Ontario.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 1:51pm

    sounds more like they are acting like the mob shaking down businesses that won't pay them off

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 2:11pm

    Pompous anonymous officialdom

    Actually I'm somewhat irritated with the anonymous sign-off (insert silent obligatory "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" snark):

    " Kind regards,

    PIPCU Anti-Piracy | Operations | Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit |

    blah-blah"

    A named human contact would be much more professional but of course would not carry the connotations of a coercive all-seeing bureucratic big brother letting the peasant recipient know what's good for them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 3:52pm

    Re: Re: solution

    I guess you never heard of sneakernet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 5:25pm

    CoLP = Pinkertons , Thugs In uniforms from America's past. EasyDNS is getting Railroaded.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 8:50pm

    So?

    So whats new here? I heard the CoLP motto is, "Because we said so!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 8:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Manitoba wishes it was Ontario.

    Static IPs are a bit trickier, but for the normal DHCP stuff, IP pools are allocated on a per CO basis.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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