US taking control of the Internet

The US government is trying to enact a law which effectively means that if it is on the web it is on American property.

Copyright law expert Michael Geist said that the US was attempting to seize foreign assets on the basis that it owns the Internet.

The case which involves, which is a Canadian-owned online sports gaming site. Like Saudi Arabia, the Fundamentalist Christians in the US are anti-gambling and it seems are prepared to be trying to export their quaint puritan views to the more secular and balanced nation of Canada.

The US has seized the name was seized even though the domain name was registered with a non-US registrar and did not have any US servers.

In the past that was seen as enough to fall outside US jurisdiction because any court order requiring the domain name registrar to transfer ownership of the domain (or redirect the site) was only enforceable in the country in which it was issued.

Geist said that in the case, State of Maryland prosecutors obtained a warrant ordering Verisign, the company that manages the dot-com domain name registry, to redirect the website to a warning page advising that it has been seized by the US Department of Homeland Security.

By doing that it means that all dot-com, dot-net, and dot-org domain names are subject to US law regardless of where they operate or where they were registered.

It gives the US “super-jurisdiction” over Internet activities as far as the US is concerned the location of the domain name registry is enough.

Where this becomes more dangerous for the rest of the world is when it comes to things like piracy. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which died a death thanks to protests, would have defined any domain name with a registrar or registry in the US as domestic for legal purposes.

The case has allowed SOPA to come in through the back door.