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back to article US shuts down Canadian gambling site with Verisign's help

The Department of Homeland Security has seized a domain name registered outside of the US, by individuals who are not American citizens, and who registered with a Canadian registrar. What is unique about this case is that the American authorities did not get the domain's registrar - a Canadian company - to pull the domain. …

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WTF?

America...

... Fuck Yeah!!!

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Or perhaps more simply...

Fuck America

YEAH!

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Re: America...

I'm guessing maybe that the downvotes and the subsequent reply didn't get the reference.

It's Team America : World Police

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Re: Re: America...

Oh I got the Team America reference alrighty...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Or perhaps more simply...

America, ruler of the world!

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Black Helicopters

Oh not, how do I find Bodog now?

Quick Google.com search yields:

bodog.net

bodog.ca

bodogbrand.com

bodognation.com

bodognetwork.com

bodog.co.uk

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh not, how do I find Bodog now?

A very good point well made.

What proportion of internet users actually memorize and type URLs anymore, as opposed to simply keying keywords into the search box? Mobile browsers don't even bother with a box for the URL any more as typing suffix and punctuation marks on a touch screen is too much hassle.

My point being that the relevance of DNS system is being eroded in favour of search engine results. I wonder if it might actually be possible today to run a commercial website on just a static IPv4 address.

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Megaphone

Worrying but not exactly new issue. In fact US claim .com to be sovereign US territory too. Seriously. I even predicted the gambling take-downs:

http://www.slightlyrightofcentre.com/2011/07/sovereignty-creep.html

For more on the jurisdiction claim:

http://www.slightlyrightofcentre.com/2011/07/sovereignty-creep.html

James Firth

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Angel

Never give up El Reg's .co.uk domain.

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Anonymous Coward

USoA busily shooting its own foot

More reason why any one government including, disappointingly, the USoA, simply cannot be trusted with global resources like the DNS root. Though the .com TLD isn't itself the root, there's also a case to be made that gTLDs shouldn't be run by companies under any one government.

*dons tin-foil napoleon hat*

If this was Iran or something, the US would shrug and ignore them. But now that it's maryland, or earlier kentucky, oh dear, world-wide prosecution. Same with the treatment of that equally unlikeable character Kimble, and now his wife too, down in New Zealand.

If you add this, and the various wars, and various international treaties (eg ACTA, but the ICC tantrum counts too), and its TLA soup of DHS and 1270 other agencies and then a sack more private companies doing more of the same, and add it all up, I'd say they're going rogue to the point that the Chinese government is starting to look reasonable or at least consistent.

Coat? The tin-foil lined one, but I already gots me hat.

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.com is supposed to be US

To be honest I find this very unsurprising. .com domains are supposed to be US domains (for no good reason other than the US deciding so, and the registration authorities being US-bound; but that's another discussion). .com domains fall under the juridiction of US courts, then.

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Re: .com is supposed to be US

Err. .us is for the US.

.org .com .net .mil .edu .gov were all originally intended to be generic top-level domains, available for world-wide use. IMHO, this was a mistake as .co.int / .org.int etc should have been the TLD for multinational companies/organisations. The last 3 became defacto US domains, and it seems all 6 are now dejure US domains.

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Re: .com is supposed to be US

The intention of .com domains are that they COMmercial domains for entities with an international presence. That's why a large US company clothing company called Prince lost when they tried browbeat a small UK mushroom company with the same name to get their domain name. The ruling went against the US company since they only target US markets, whereas the UK company sell their 'shrooms all over Europe. As someone else pointed out, .us is TLD for US domains.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: .com is supposed to be US

This has gone both ways though.

Chase manufacturing in the UK lost chase.com years back, even though they had registered it many years ahead of Chase bank.

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Re: .com is supposed to be US

I like that post of mine being uniformely downvoted. Sincerely.

Even though I still think it is in effect the reason for the shutdown, and my post was wrongly understood as defendinding the US landgrab on .com instead of just describing it (my fault, probably). It is good to know that people don't like said landgrab.

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Mushroom

There should be clear advice in the terms and conditions

Anyone "purchasing" a US-controlled domain outside of the US should have it highlighted at the top of the agreement that you become liable to US law and extradition on failure to comply with US legal restrictions.

If you aren't advised of this, I would suggest that your local registrar is guilty of gross negligence.

Sue 'em!

The Balkenisation of the internet continues - and that is just what the politicians want.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There should be clear advice in the terms and conditions

How can an agreement with a third party outside the US place me under the jurisdiction of US law? Sounds like nonsense to me.

Time to declare independence from the USA

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Re: Re: There should be clear advice in the terms and conditions

The only way I can see this being remotely reasonable is the advertisements and possibly where the servers are located. I didn't see mention in the article, but if the servers are on US soil, then just like with megaupload, you're doing business on US soil and they can shut you down. As far as extradition, a lot of people don't understand it and I don't blame them. It's necessary because if I murder/rob/rape/pillage in the US and then flee to a US ally like Canada, I should get a clean slate? Hell no. However, it's taken too far in this case. If the advertisements are specifically targeted to US citizens, I could see some sort of legal dispute, but I'm not sure what (i.e. the laws of other cultures should be respected, even if that other culture is the US). Shutting down the site and attempting to extradite the owners sounds like total nonsense to me, but then again you can't have the upside of globalization without the downside.

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FAIL

Just... really... i mean... seriously...

@AC-03:05

Uncle Sam's boys are consistent. They ALWAYS end up looking like brain dead muppets.

Mildly amusing as cowboys, pretty much useless for anything else.

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Cowboys? Sure am, pardner.

Cue for a song......"If I ruled the world.....................tum tee ta"

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No surprises

Got no sympathy for the gambling site - I'd be quite happy to see them all closed down. However that should have been the job of the Canadians, if the site was registered there, and only if it was illegal under Canadian law.

The last two paras in itallics sum up the situation quite neatly, and I do think the US will see the rest of the world slowly realising how much of a liability they are becoming and pulling away from relying on them as much as possible.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No surprises

Liability? You bet.

Judging by the way the GOP nominations are going and the quality of the candidates running for election, the USofA is in big trouble. If any of those republicans get elected then it is time for the rest of the rational world to close our doors and sever diplomatic relations with them. They deserve nothing less.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: No surprises

Didn't we all say the same thing when Bush got elected? I'll believe it when I see it.

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Anonymous Coward

Any with more info on this?

I have a UK hosted website arrived at via a .com URL. Am I subject to US "law" now? What about the .org and .net TLDs? Is there any TLD not subject to this kind of cowboy behaviour? My site is purely personal/hobby (remember those?) but at the same time I think this is outrageous bullshit and I'd like to vote with my feet and money. Thanks.

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Re: Any with more info on this?

Yep, I should think all those TLD's are now subject to the whims of crazy puritanical God-Botherers and other influencers like Pharma, Media and anyone else with the money to buy legislation.

Always register a .co.uk local style domain as well

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Re: Any with more info on this?

If you trade with US citizens in the USA then the answer is definitely YES whether you have a .COM or a .CO.UK domain. It just happens that the US has more leverage on a .COM then on a .CO.UK.

Why do you see a problem with judicial systems taking action over alleged illegal activity within their jurisdictions? Wouldn't it be nice if we could get at the Nigerian scammers? Would you object to, say, a british court requiring yahoo.co.uk to terminate the offending email account (not that it would do much good!).

Going back to .CO.UK, as I understand it, Nominet's glue records are handled courtesy of organisations within US jurisdiction so they could probably get them unstuck too. However, it would be bad politics so, this side of a Republican nutter in the White House, they are very unlikely to tread on other countries TLDs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Any with more info on this?

100% agree with you, I always register .co.uk's first, and actually only care about .com IF I am to deal with the US of A (and in that case I comply with their laws pretty much anyway)..

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Boffin

don't mess with the root or we will rebase it

"Nominet's glue records are handled courtesy of organisations within US jurisdiction so "

It wouldn't just be bad politics for US courts to attempt this kind of insanity, it would result in all non US TLD and root server operators choosing to use a new root zone provider forthwith, e.g. one coming under international law such as the ITU. That's if the latter can ever streamline their bureacracy and procedures enough to be credible within this space, but hey, this kind of idiocy is giving them an incentive to do so. It's not as if ICANN, a private company based in California are credible as a diplomatic entity in connection with relationships between sovereign nation states. ICANN don't own this space, they hold an increasingly questionable tenure on it.

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Re: Re: Re: Any with more info on this?

>I comply with their laws pretty much anyway

How can you tell? - they keep on changing them/ making new laws and making normal/ reasonable activities illegal.

ttfn

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Any with more info on this?

The problem is, the people breaking the law are the US citizens, not the Canadian gambling site - why is the US not going after the people who are illegally gambling?

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Re: Re: Re: Any with more info on this?

Because the people using the sites are proud upstanding American patriots, whereas the people running the sites are dodgy foreigners who might even have beards.

In an unrelated note: Does anyone know if any casinos in Vegas have been closed because people from Maryland went there to gamble?

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Boffin

Re: Any with more info on this?

@AC.

Verisign controls the .com TLD and thus they are subject to US laws.

You have a website that you get to using a .com but the website and its servers are outside of the US.

That's fine. I believe that .net is also controlled by Verisign.

You want to get around this?

Sure. simple.

Register your domain w a .co.uk then redirect your .com domain there.

If you decide you want to break US laws, you lose the .com domain, but you still have your website intact up and running. Just make sure your visitors know to bookmark the .co.uk url too.

With respect to Bodogs. They knew they were breaking US Laws. The sad thing is that there are ways of getting around this that are legal on the part of Bodogs.

1) Don't deal with US banks. Bodogs is Canadian. They could deal with TD Bank among other Canadian banks. They can deal with banks in other countries too.

This puts the burden on the US gambler to getting a bank account with a bank outside of the US.

2) When a customer registers with Bodogs, Bodogs puts up in clear print that they don't want to break US laws and if the person is a US citizen they shouldn't register.

3) Use geo location on IP blocks to limit direct connectivity to the US. If the person gambling in the US wants to use Bodogs, they can go through an off shore redirect site. Again the onus is on the US person for breaking US laws.

There's more to it. The point is that Bodogs could have done things to limit their legal exposure.

That still wouldn't stop the US Government from taking the domain, however... it would have given Bodogs legal recourse to sue the US Government.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Any with more info on this?

Point is though... WHY should Bodogs HAVE to do this? They are not in the US, they are Canadian.

Should every web page have to know the laws of EVERY country in the world and filter accordingly?

If I have a web page with pictures of my wife in a bikini should I have to block access to it to Muslim countries? No.

Bottom line here is that this is the government behaving like all major corporations and exacting their will because they can.

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Re: Re: Re: Any with more info on this?

"If I have a web page with pictures of my wife in a bikini should I have to block access to it to Muslim countries? No."

Maybe not, but to you think you'd get away with advertiseing it in a Muslim country?

Bodog.net did a hell of a lot of (television) advertiseing and sponsorships in the US. This isn't a case of "oh some USAians happened to go to this site" they actually ran ads in the US, targeted at USAians.

(Full disclosure: Frankly, provided they are running a fair game, I think it should be legal. That doesn't change the fact that your analogy is flawed)

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Boffin

Re: Re: Re: Any with more info on this?

@AC

When you do business internationally, you need to know the laws of the countries involved. Here in the US, you could probably find web sites selling WW II Nazi paraphernalia. What do you think will happen if they tried to sell stuff to someone in Germany.

The truth is that when you deal with people in other countries, you need to know the law, regardless of the web.

The truth is that the US Government is upholding US laws. Bottom line.

Pretend that we're using my example above and the country in question is Germany. And the web site is in the US. If that company knowingly sold Nazi paraphernalia to a German citizen in Germany, how would you react if the German government took down the website and extradited the website owner to face charges in Germany?

Would you protest the German government? Or would you make fun of the owner of the American web site?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Any with more info on this?

Many thanks (I am the original poster). I think a .co.uk etc domain is 'weaker' because it strongly hints at a country specific site, whereas I would much prefer something more generic (.com was perfect). .org is intended for charity organisations etc, .net is also probably subject to bullying similar to .com. I was curious if the usually well informed Reg commentards and commentardettes had any suggestions for a 2nd best alternative to a .com TLD? Thanks.

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Coat

What was that aboot the land of the free?

Oooh the irony.

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global law

"and federal law prohibits bookmakers from flouting that law simply because they are located outside the country"

Which sounds a lot like ; - Our laws apply to the whole world.

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Re: global law

See also: stoplikingwhatidontlike.jpg

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Headmaster

Re: global law

It is certainly not the case here that the US is projecting it's law globally. It's acting within it's borders and asking Canada to extradite someone who has been breaking US law. Not being an apologist for the US here, it's pretty much well known that the US are nutters about online gambling and consider it illegal, so anyone operating a betting site that does not block US users, or at least put up a few disclaimers, is asking for trouble. Advertising those services is asking for even more trouble.

Look at it this way - if I have a dutch website selling <some unspecified substance> that is legal in the Netherlands but illegal in the UK, and I not only have no disclaimers about my product being illegal in the UK, but I'm knowingly delivering to the UK and actively marketing this product in the UK. You think the UK authorities wouldn't try to extradite me? And if I was so foolish as to register a .co.uk website, wouldn't the UK authorities be able to shut it down legally?

The only worrying issue I see here is that the US are treating .com as belonging to them even though the US have their own .us domain and .com, .org etc are meant to be supra-national registrations. But then again, .com being used as a US domain has been the de facto standard since the beginning of the internet. How many .co.us domains have you ever visited??

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Headmaster

@ James

It's = IT IS or IT HAS

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Re: Re: global law

However, to use your analogy, if your Dutch website was selling something illegal in the UK but not in Holland, and people from the UK went to holand to use this product then they would not be doing anything illegal.

So the question is - if I am gambling from the US but on a Canadian server, where is the "gaming" happening? in the browser of the user or the server of the Gaming Company?

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Holmes

Re: Re: Re: global law

Good point. I suppose that I could make a case that if the server is in Canada, then that's where the gambling activity is taking place, although all of that is virtual and any 'physical' activity made in placing a bet is a combination of browser + hardware in the US, server in Canada and infrastructure that could be any place between.

I think the strength of the US case rests on 2 things:

(1) advertising happening in the US, therefore the betting company is operating in the US (although it's not specified whether the advertising was online, it's quite likely that even though the gaming server is in Canada it could be serving ads from an ad server in the US)

(2) payouts made on winning bets are made in the US, so the gambling activity is taking place in the US. Maybe US gamblers with a bit more savvy could use a foreign bank account to place bets and collect payouts, that way it would be closer to the analogy of the Brit going over to Holland to purchase their weed

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Holmes

@Syntax error

No shit, Sherlock! You think I have nothing else to do all day than to grammar-check my el Reg postings??

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Stop

Re: Re: Re: Re: global law

Well,

> (1) advertising happening in the US,

Is the advertising actually illegal or just the service that is being advertised? If not, there is no case to answer anyway on those grounds.

> (2) payouts made on winning bets are made in the US....

It depends on who the payment intermediary is and where they are I guess. Again, though, is it online gambling that is illegal in Maryland or the receipt of winnings that is illegal or both? If receipt of winnings is itself illegal, does that mean that Maryland residents can not gamble while they are outside of Maryland and bring their winnings home? That seems highly unlikely.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: global law

So...

EVERY web page in the world must know about ALL the other laws in all countries and filter/warn accordingly?

Your Dutch example is not applicable since the SELLING in the Netherlands is not illegal. Buying, selling and importing to the UK is illegal IN THE UK. If you are not IN the UK then you can't be guilty of committing a crime IN the UK.

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Boffin

Re: Re: Re: Re: global law

@James.

US Interstate Gaming laws. Its legal to place a bet in a Casino in Vegas. But if you're not in Vegas and place a bet over the phone to someone in Vegas... you're still breaking the law.

Same would apply to the internet.

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Anonymous Coward

Nothing Is Ever What It claims to be

While the yanks are free to carry guns and shoot each other, frequently, in many other respects they share a level of freedom with those in North Korea and Iran. Perhaps not in every way but in many places and in many locations. Just try going to an international conference and not toeing the party line. Siberia might fell quite warm and cosy compared to your home coming.

The yanks have a colonialist streak about as wide as the equator.

What I can never understand is why so many places just roll over and say 'yes sir' rather than the more correct 'sod off and play with yourself'.

Why has the UK outsourced what was once called justice to the land of the slaves?

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Flame

Outsourced

Probably because they still own us after we hired them as cannon fodder in the second world war with a load of our gold and all of our US-based international interests...

Oh, and because our government has been spineless and suckup for decades now.

It's the 'Special Relationship' that the UK 'enjoys' with the USA

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Boffin

"as wide as the equator"

The equator is a notional line. One can be on one side of it or on the other. It has zero width.

</pedantry>

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