[At-Large] NYTimes : U.S. Shuts Down Web Sites in Piracy Crackdown

Karl Auerbach karl at cavebear.com
Fri Dec 3 01:32:11 UTC 2010

On 12/02/2010 04:13 PM, Bill Silverstein wrote:

> While the seizing1 of a domain name does effect all services with that
> domain name, it is not a risk of collateral damage to innocents. In your
> analogy, it is more like taking all containers which have stickers on the
> outside that states, "Property of Pirate Inc."  It is also possible to
> take the domain name, and recreate the DNS records for the non-web
> services.

Let's take a simple case: Someone on facebook says they are selling 
Gucci purses.

OK, take down facebook.com

Simple.. Easy.. Fast

But very, very wrong in terms of collateral damage.

How can you know what other things a domain name represents?  Remember 
domain names can contain information about geographic coordinates 
(lawful), text (I've got the Magna Carta in my DNS records, again 
lawful), VoIP service records (lawful), email exchange records (lawful), 
etc etc.

One might argue, as I think you are arguing, that because so far we have 
mainly dealt with people who use domain names for exactly one overt 
purpose and that purpose is a website or email origination that is 100% 
illicit that every other accused domain name equally ought to be 
summarily condemned, tried, and executed.

It is always easier to paint with a wide brush and accept the results 
than it is to do finely detailed work in which the results have few flaws.

As humans we've been painting with a broad accusatorial brush for a long 
time.  The progress of justice often goes hand in hand with the 
narrowing of the brush.

Literature and history are filled with examples ranging from Othello's 
presumptions about Desdemona, the book "The Oxbow Incident", and the 
unrestricted torpedoing of passenger liners during WWI.

> Now if the police come in and seize the server, which could handle
> hundreds of other web sites, that would be a server of another color.

Unfortunately "the police" (they usually aren't the kind of police who 
wear blue uniforms) do take entire server machines.  Those of us who 
sometimes use cloud based hosting have reason to be nervous.

I already left one co-lo facility because of the collateral damage done 
to our innocent machines by overzealous blacklists that included our 
machines simply on the basis of IP address proximity.

I've spent some time last month discussing with various lawyers and law 
professors the idea that we need to create a law in the US (or in 
California) that would require those who assert internet reputations for 
use by others to conform to various standards of conduct.  One of the 
mental models is the US Fair Credit Reporting Act that puts some (but 
not many) strictures on credit reporting agencies.  Similar rules could 
be applied to those who operate on the net to assign status (like 
"saintly", "good", "bad", "evil", or "condemned" - or something more 
like a blacklist) for beyond mere personal consumption.


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