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Sunday, March 25, 2012

United States Will Take Control Of The Web

The American government is currently trying to enact a law that effectively means that whatever is located in the Internet is an American property. In other words, if you publish something online, it automatically belongs to the United States.

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Michael Geist, a copyright law expert, explained that the United States is trying to seize foreign assets by claiming that it owns the entire web. The case in question involves Bodog.com, a Canadian-owned online sports gaming website. Just as Saudi Arabia, the Fundamentalist Christians in the United States are anti-gambling, and it seems that they are well-prepared to make attempts to export their quaint puritan views to the more secular and balanced nation of Canada.

The United States managed to seize the bodog.com domain even though it was registered with a non-American registrar and didn’t have any American servers. Before, it seemed to be enough to fall outside the jurisdiction of the United States because any court order demanding the domain name registrar to transfer ownership of the domain (or redirect the website) was valid only in the country where it was issued.

Michael Geist claimed that in the case of Bodog.com, State of Maryland prosecutors obtained a warrant that demanded Verisign, the firm managing the .com domain name registry, to redirect the site to a page with a notification advising that the domain has been seized by the American Department of Homeland Security.

This case set a precedent, which means that all .com, .net, and .org domain names are also subject to American legislation regardless of where they operate or where they were registered. This provides the United States “super-jurisdiction” over web activities since America is concerned the location of the domain name registry is enough.

Of course, this becomes pretty dangerous for the rest of the world when it comes to issues like digital piracy. The Stop Online Piracy Act, better known today as SOPA, which died a death due to people’s protests, would have defined any domain name whose registrar or registry was in the United States as domestic for legal purposes. Despite the bill’s death, it seems that the bodog.com case has allowed the controversial legislation to come in through the back door.

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