US wrongly suspends 84,000 websites

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US wrongly suspends 84,000 websites
US law enforcement bungled at the weekend, taking out 84,000 websites in a cyber-raid on alleged child abusers.

Bungled action sacrifices free speech in pursuit of child abusers.

The US Government’s child pornography enforcement action “Operation Protect Our Children” had huge collateral damage over the weekend when it mistakenly suspended 84,000 websites under the mooo.com domain.

The Department of Homeland Security announced a victory on Tuesday, claiming the "execution of seizure warrants against 10 domain names of websites engaged in the advertisement and distribution of child pornography”.

But they failed to mentioned that the action spearheaded by DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement Cyber Crimes Center, also accidentally took down mooo.com, the  most popular shared domain at afraid.org, run by domain name services provider, FreeDNS.

Visitors to the websites, mostly owned by bloggers and small businesses, were from Friday redirected to a page containing DHS and Department of Justice logos with the message that possession of child pornography could land an offender up to 30 years imprisonment, according to the Torrent Freak blog.   

While authorities lifted the registrar-level suspension on mooo.com by Sunday evening, FreeDNS warned customers that it may take as long as three days to fully restore websites across the web.

It said on Saturday that “Freedns.afraid.org has never allowed this type of abuse of its DNS service”.

Angry site owners slammed US law enforcement's power to bypass legal process to shut down websites.

“You can rest assured that I have not and would never be found to be trafficking in such distasteful and horrific content,” said one affected blogger who runs Grey Ghost.

“You'd get no argument from me that there are truly distasteful and illegal things on the Internet ... But there are also proper ways to deal with these problems.”

Website owners affected by the departments' investigations into copyright infringement have made similar complaints about wrongfully being taken down.

The operator of the dajaz1.com hip hop blog has complained that allegedly infringing material for which his site was taken down was given to him as promotional material by record labels and artists.


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