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.)