Saturday, February 18, 2012

SOPA? We don't need no stinking SOPA

ArsTechnica reports:
Popular site JotForm doesn't host music or movies or child pornography, all of which have led US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to seize other Internet domain names without advance warning (sometimes making serious mistakes). JotForm also doesn't create content itself. Instead, it helps customers create online forms that can then be embedded in their websites for easy data collection.

But that didn't spare the site from having its entire business shuttered without warning yesterday as the site's domain name was shut down at the request of the US Secret Service. JotForm's domain name registrar, GoDaddy, redirected the site's nameservers to NS1.SUSPENDED-FOR.SPAM-AND-ABUSE.COM—and with that, became unreachable and the site's two million user-created forms all broke.

And it all may have been done without a court order.
It's pretty remarkable what the U.S. government gets away with these days. I mean, when it comes to foreign policy, I guess they've been willing and able to do any old insane act you can think of for decades now. But usually they've left their own citizens alone. The recently defeated SOPA bill would have allowed big companies to take down web sites with user-generated content, without first having to go through the hassle of a court case. But did you know that the government can already shut down your web site on a whim? At least, they can if your domain registrar is GoDaddy. JotForm is a case in point. I had never heard of JotForm before, but I have half a mind to subscribe to their service to help make up for the business they've lost over this wrongful shutdown.

Update: Now the U.S. government has taken down a foreign website, run by foreigners living outside the U.S., using a foreign registrar, for running a gambling business that violates the laws of Maryland. Read all about it! Whatever you think about gambling (I don't like it or do it myself), there is something very wrong with this picture.

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