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.
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
, 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.