Oct 12

VeriSign demands website takedown powers (The Register, Oct. 11, 2011):

VeriSign, which manages the database of all .com internet addresses, wants powers to shut down “non-legitimate” domain names when asked to by law enforcement.

The company said today it wants to be able to enforce the “denial, cancellation or transfer of any registration” in any of a laundry list of scenarios where a domain is deemed to be “abusive”.

VeriSign should be able to shut down a .com or .net domain, and therefore its associated website and email, “to comply with any applicable court orders, laws, government rules or requirements, requests of law enforcement or other governmental or quasi-governmental agency, or any dispute resolution process”, according to a document it filed today with domain name industry overseer ICANN.

The company has already helped law enforcement agencies in the US, such as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, seize domains that were allegedly being used to sell counterfeit goods or facilitate online piracy, when the agency first obtained a court order.

That seizure process has come under fire because, in at least one fringe case, a seized .com domain’s website had already been ruled legal by a court in its native Spain.

Senior ICE agents are on record saying that they believe all .com addresses fall under US jurisdiction.

But the new powers would be international and, according to VeriSign’s filing, could enable it to shut down a domain also when it receives “requests from law enforcement”, without a court order.

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