Saturday, October 15, 2011

Seizing Internet Domains

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Homework Assignment from the past.

The question of who, if anyone, had authority to seize the domain name of a questionable website first came to the forefront two years ago when the commonwealth of Kentucky attempted to take control of 141 domain names belonging to websites associated with online gambling. While most forms of online gambling are currently illegal in the United States, it was quite controversial when a county circuit judge gave the state the green light to seize control of these sites. The major question about this was the motive. In the state of Kentucky as of 2005, 96,000 jobs were in some way related to the horse racing industry. It is fair to ask whether this was simply attempting to shut down illegal websites, or a state simply looking after its own bottom line.

This issue came to the forefront again recently with what has been dubbed in the media as the “Internet Kill Switch.” This past June, a Senate committee approved the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010 (S. 3480). This bill will create a White House office of cyber security and a vaguely worded section that many interpret as giving the president the authority to effectively shut down the Internet in an emergency. The committee however denies that the president would be able to shut down the Internet. A version of the bill, H.R. 5548, has also been introduced in the House.