With Latest Domain Seizures, US Declares Trade War On The World

Navy Submarine flying the US flag

The latest round of domain seizures from the United States are grandiose in their aggression and audacity towards the free world. People in the US may see it as no big deal. To the rest of the world, however, it’s a declaration of trade war.

Authorities in the United States have been seizing domains for some time now, each and every one being a violation of the world’s right to free speech. So far, however, they’ve been using the fact that the domains were rented by a registrar in the United States as pressure point – going to that renter (registrar) and terminating the contract by force, essentially. Many political opinions and several businesses in non-US jurisdictions have been shut down just because some business or agency in the US didn’t like them. Rights, schmights.

But the latest development is nothing less than an all-out declaration of trade war in an act of quite regular war. Authorities in Maryland decided that a non-US company on non-US soil which had rented its domain from a non-US registrar could still be shut down by the United States – specifically, bodog.com in Canada, which was a world-leading business employing hundreds of people.

In a short technical summary of how this could happen, the United States screwed with the Internet’s infrastructure to kill a business that had never touched their soil. Like a submarine popping up from nowhere in a location far away from its homeland, saying “hi!”, killing everything in sight and vanishing again.

I think a lot of people in the United States don’t understand the implications of this, that they think it is business as usual. It is not. It is an act of war, plain and simple: The US is using violence to enforce its will in – and on – other jurisdictions. If you want a parallel, there is no difference here whatsoever between the actions of the US here and if Iran had used violence to enforce their Sharia laws in the United States. That may highlight just how atrocious, aggressive and adacious this action and attitude is from the United States.

The United States is asserting its dominance and enforcing its will in trade relations between other, sovereign countries. Like between Germany and France. It is an understatement to say that people take exception to this.

If you’re in the US, would you take exception to Iran enforcing Sharia laws in the United States? Would you feel angry? Enraged, even? Good. That’s a quite reasonable reaction. Maybe you would even be prepared to pick up your rifle in a heartbeat to defend your rights, sovereignty, and way of life? Then you know exactly how the rest of the world feels about this behavior – no, this act of war – from the United States.

The solution here isn’t to call out authorities in the USA (or Maryland) out for what they’re doing. They’re following their rulebook and frankly not caring how the US is perceived by the rest of the world; that’s not their department. Rather, the solution is to introduce a new technical term that needs to go into a redesign of DNS.

As techs, architects, and coders, we’ve frequently talked about single points of failure. We’ve been referring to single points of technical failure with this term. With these arrogant power grabs, we need to realize there are two different kinds of single points of failure in any system. From hereon, we also need to eliminate all single points of jurisdictional failure: no authority must have a technical ability to take down a system, regardless of their legal ability to do so. We don’t care if it’s lawful, and done by law enforcement, it’s still evil and still unacceptable. Lawful doesn’t mean good or even acceptable. Again, imagine if Iran had interfered with trade or the exchange of ideas between the US and Canada with the same justification: “because we can”.

We must get rid of the single points of jurisdictional failure as part of the tech protocols.

The alternative, asking the United States to play nice and their authorities to consider their impact on the rest of the world, is not worth holding your breath for. They commit outright acts of war without a second thought.

(If this domain should suddenly disappear at some point in the future, check falkvinge.eu which I keep as a hot standby. .net domains can no longer be trusted.)

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot.

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published.

Since I'm not a robot spammer I'm also answering this easy question:

Discussion

  1. Ryan F. Smith

    China and Iran censor their own citizens. My government censors everybody else.

    1. manen

      its funny cuz its true.

    2. kotorinsmyth

      Yes, but the US has th ability to access all ‘.com’ domains just as easily as .us domains because the US “owns” them. People think .com are global but in reality they are not and US has always had jurisdiction on them, just they have not been enforced until now.

  2. Trinitis

    I’d like to point out that not all US folks like or agree with this. We’re also not blind to it.

  3. anonymous

    During my spare time, in the past 3 years, I’ve been designing such a system that could solve most single points of failure in the current internet, including DNS, SSL and host raiding. It does not have the flaws of most similar tools, such as being incompatible with the current internet; requiring you to use it to be able to profit from it; forcing you to use a single implementation or even a single protocol. The design is mostly finished by now. And I believe that I could implement a reference back-end in about a week. Unfortunately, I do not have that much time to spend. I would like to write a paper about it, however that would probably take a week as well and I do not have a place to publish it.

    1. none

      You’re a hero :3

    2. anon2

      > I do not have a place to publish it.

      Seriously? You’ve got the chops to write a replacement for all the single points of failure in the current internet, but you can’t figure out how to post a document to pastebin, github, slideshare, or any of dozens of other places where you can post documents online for free? Troll much?

      1. enlightened frogmuppet

        “For free” doesn’t matter. Really decentralized, anonymized and encrypted is the only acceptable way to go. Anything that CAN be censored is just about to be.

    3. Autolykos

      Sounds like the Fermat excuse: “I have a wonderful solution, but this comment thread isn’t large enough…”.

    4. Anonymous

      we are working on something like this too, its called cjdns.

    5. Anon

      post it to wikileaks

  4. Internet Citizen

    It’s not that Americans are okay with this. It’s that they misinform their citizens into believing that everything they do is right. But the internet users of America are not okay with this one-bit. The fact that they want to control the internet is NOT GOOD.

    -An American

  5. mikael

    well I had to use a VPN to reach falkvinge.net in China – which is more or less a stamp of high quality text 😉

  6. My Watch Begins

    For the record, I am an American and I am not at all ok with shit like this happening, any of us with half a brain aren’t ok with it. We have lost control of our own country to corporations and the 1%, and they are running completely unchecked.

  7. Mr. Internet

    Once you come to terms with the fact that the US owns .com/.net/.org, and they are NOT simply general purpose TLDs, this is not a big deal. Register a .COM? Your domain is under control of the US Government. If you don’t like that, register the domain under a TLD the US doesn’t control, like pretty much any other TLD. Based in Canada? Register domain.ca, etc.

    1. Scary Devil Monastery

      I concur with part of what you are saying – it’s up to the user to not choose an unreliable provider.

      However, that’s a bit like a nation turning off the gas line running through it from neighbour A to neighbour B. Albeit you can argue it’s well within your rights, the behaviour is from many standpoints unacceptable.

      What this leads to of course is the fragmentation of the net, when new top domain hierarchies are built and put in place.

      The US does so far have great control over the internet. That is rapidly changing. From the american government’s perspective actions such as these are much like wasting your one magical wish on a lollipop.

  8. anon_us

    k, so as a U.S. citizen I am appalled at the fact that this has happened. The U.S. or any other country shouldn’t be able to wield this kind of power against any other country just because their ruling corporations feel that they should. Yes, I said that correctly, the U.S. is run by corporations now, not by the people. I am ashamed of this “flex” that my government has pulled, and feel that there should be no such move available to the ruling body. Information, however rudimentary, should be free to access. I agree with mr. internet’s comment, don’t register a .com/.net/.org addy unless you long to be molested and controlled by the corporations that are the U.S. government.

  9. Wayne Borean

    I’ve been warning people for years to avoid U.S. controlled domains and hosting. Unless of course they live in the U.S. You are far better off having everything local, so that if there is a problem, all of the legal issues can be handled locally.

    Of course no one listens.

    Wayne

  10. Putte

    Who controls the .info domain?

    1. Mr Charles

      Good question. Wired has info on a couple of other TLD:s to avoid:
      http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/feds-seize-foreign-sites/

      Also, an interesting observation concerning web site defacements. Not quite what you expect when you start reading: http://kevtownsend.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/an-analysis-of-recent-website-defacements/

  11. Bill

    Can you give a reference for a website that has been seized that wasn’t breaking laws? I’m not sure what Bodog.com’s deal was, but I believe it was a website providing gambling services which are outlawed in most US states. I think that has a reason to do with it.

    1. elloco

      Posting images of women not covered in a full body dress is illegal in more than a dozen islamic countries. Should one of them have control over top level domains would you consider it ok if they shut down every single US based website that has a picture of a woman where you can actually see any part of her skin ? It’s exactly the same thing. The fact that something is illegal in the US (and by that I mean only certain parts of it, not the entirety of it) does not give the US the right to enforce that on the rest of the world. You may be within the realm of ‘acceptable’ if you blocked US users from accessing that domain but burning the entire domain just because it does not agree with your local legislature is a ‘f**k you, because we can’ attitude that will fracture the net and leave the US and it’s business locked behind a wall of control the rest of the world does not want to play along with.

      Another analogy would be cops from France coming over to the US and seizing a US citizen’s car because he violated the speed limits set in the French suburbs by driving faster on US roads. Hey it’s a against the law to drive that fast in France so it must be bad right?

    2. Foreigner

      Hi Bill,
      Let me ask you a question instead:
      “Do you know any Jews that the Gestapo killed illegally?”. I think you will not find any!
      It all depends on the lawmakers (China, EU, Sharia, Hollywood, Nazi Germany etc.)

  12. Nicklas Odh

    Look at it at a longer perspective.
    The US govt is cutting out piece by piece of the “internet” and finally the “Average Joe” is only fed a govt. approved version. The land of the free has slowly been converted to the land of the ignorant without knowing it.
    In five or ten years time Silicon valley will be just a sand pit. Any IT-related activity will have moved outside the borders of US. How come facebook is building a huge server farm in Sweden, Google has a farm in Finland and so on?

  13. molecular

    namecoin (the dot-bit project) springs to mind: http://dot-bit.org/Main_Page

    problem with alternative name service infrastructure always has been and likely will remain for a while to get the ISPs to switch. remember the open root server confederation? http://www.open-rsc.org/ <- well, their domain has been gone for years… wonder why 😉

  14. Cesar

    Instead of keeping falkvinge.eu as a hot standby, keep it as a working alternative (both domains on the same server with the same pages). Even better, start redirecting all falkvinge.net pages to the same page at falkvinge.eu (with a permanent redirect, so search engines know the pages moved). It is best to do this before the domain disappears, so people start moving to the new domain name and you keep the page ranking in search engines.

  15. […] EasyDNS piece, including interesting questions about whether or not these seizures could be seen as declarations of war by seizing foreign […]

  16. […] EasyDNS piece, including interesting questions about whether or not these seizures could be seen as declarations of war by seizing foreign […]

  17. Tony22

    Just curious Rick, what are eurid’s policies on seizures for .eu domains, have any ever been seized?

    1. @icanhazsake

      +1

      The .eu seems a good and sexy alternative.

arrow