UK police order foreign copyright take-down notices

City of London coppers are threatening foreign ISPs to shut down their businesses if they do not close pirate sites.

Letters have been sent to at least one foreign ISP, EasyDNS, threatening to report the company to ICANN unless they close sites, which coppers have been tipped off, are pirate sites.

There is no evidence presented to the EasyDNS, nor any court order to back it up. The police are basically threatening a company on the say-so of Big Content telling them which site to shut down.

In this case, the police want a bittorrent search engine switched off. It is not hosting the torrent files locally and is probably not what many would consider a pirate site.

If the ISP does not freeze the whois record, redirect the DNS for the domain to and permit no further changes to it, the London Police say that they will contact ICANN and say that the ISP is found to have ‘permitted illegal activity in the registration or use of domain names’.”

Writing in his bog, the owner of EasyDNS Mark Jeftovic pointed out that there was a complete lack of due process when it comes to domain name takedowns.

It is not clear who has decided what is illegal and what makes someone’s site a criminal. But what is alarming is the threat to refer the matter to ICANN if he didn’t play along.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I always thought it was something that gets decided in a court of law, as opposed to “some guy on the internet” sending emails. While that’s plenty reason enough for some registrars to take down domain names, it doesn’t fly here,” he wrote.

Jeftovic said his company had an obligation to his customers and is bound by its Registrar Accreditation Agreements not to make arbitrary changes to our customers’ settings without a valid Form of Authorisation.

If he did not do that, he needed a legal basis. To get a legal basis something has to happen in court.

He said that the largest, most egregious perpetrators of online criminal activity right now are our  governments, which are spying on their own citizens, illegally wiretapping private communications.

“If I can’t make various governments and law enforcement agencies get warrants or court orders before they crack my private communications then I can at least require a court order before I take down my own customer,” he added