back to article Judge: Terror bomb victims CAN'T seize Iran's domain name as compensation

A judge in Washington DC has ruled that a country's entire internet registry cannot be seized, averting a global diplomatic crisis. In a ruling [PDF] made earlier this week but released late last night, Judge Royce Lamberth focused in on a single argument presented by DNS overseer ICANN that country code top-level domains ( …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    And Iran gets .com

    Compensation for the shooting down of its airliner

    1. ChromeKid

      Re: And Iran gets .com

      In an odd case of justice, the US denied responsibility BUT, did pay compensation to the victim's families in 1996, so not quite the same.

  2. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    It's hard enough trying to get a couple of grand back from a dodgy builder, sort of admire the nerve but, blimey - set a precedent and lawyers would get corpulent from people wanting to own the internet.

  3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    A pity

    It would have been better if the court had decided that they could seize the domain. I think that would have led quite quickly to a fairly conclusive demonstration that the US doesn't control DNS. Such a demonstration would have been quite helpful for the seemingly unending debate over internet governance.

    (For those who remain clueless: If some US-based entity started pushing out new DNS records for *.ir, how long do you think it would take for those in Russia, China and Europe to decide that this was a global-scale attack on the integrity of the DNS system and the best cure is to simply ignore DNS updates coming out of the US?)

    1. streaky Silver badge

      Re: A pity

      Well, the US doesn't control the DNS system. It doesn't even really control the root nameservers.

      It does control the IP space though - directly and indirectly through the US-owned carriers that truck most of the internet's bandwidth. If the US made a decision about IP space there wouldn't be a damned thing anybody could do about it.

      If they'd found in favour it'd have probably increased the noise regarding the ITU's (and thereby Russia/China's) control of the internet - and *that* is where it gets dangerous.

  4. M Gale

    "In other words, because an internet registry does not exist as its own separate entity, like a car or a house, it cannot be assumed to be an asset that can be seized."

    So a bit like various siezed domain names then?

    Oh I can understand the diplomatic reasons for not just yanking an entire TLD, but at least be consistent in your reasoning!

    1. streaky Silver badge

      The reasoning is consistent.

  5. Alan Johnson

    Bizarre in many ways

    The legal theory behind this is that because Iran funded Hamas Iran is responsible for attacks committed by Hamas.

    The idea of sueing states for the support of organisations whose actions you disapprove of is clealry a case of the strong doing what they like to the weak and massive hypocrisy.

    No compensation has been paid the shooting down of an Iranian civilian airliner killing hundreds (not even an apology!) or the bombing of an african pharmecutical factory which killed a low end estimate of 10,000 people. The US continues to fund many terrorist organisations and continues to launch drone strikes into countries which it is not at war at. There is no chance whatsoever of anybody getting money from thr US for any of this.

    Hamas are quite clealry a resistance movement fighting a guerilla wa, approve or disapprove of their actions being able to use governmentsthat support their actions if universally applied would open a huge can of worms.

    The issue of whether a domain name is property or not seems mild compared to this.

    1. Christoph Silver badge

      Re: Bizarre in many ways

      The UK should obviously be able to seize all the USA's domain names as compensation for the USA direct support of the IRA.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Bizarre in many ways

        But the IRA were never terrorists, they were just criminals (although now completely innocent)

        That's why we didn't need to have all our phone calls recorded and which TV shows we watch tracked.

        1. M Gale
          Thumb Up

          Re: Bizarre in many ways

          "But the IRA were never terrorists, they were just criminals (although now completely innocent)

          That's why we didn't need to have all our phone calls recorded and which TV shows we watch tracked."

          ISWYDT

          Well done.

        2. Bbrhut

          Re: Bizarre in many ways

          From 1990 to 1996, every email, phone call and fax between the UK and Ireland was intercepted and recorded by GCHQ. You could say it was a trial run for the international spying by the NSA.

          Article from 1999....

          "From 1990 until 1996 the Capenhurst ETF tower intercepted the international communications of the Irish Republic crossing from Dublin to Anglesey on a newly installed optical fibre submarine cable, called UK-Ireland 1."

          http://www.independent.co.uk/news/how-britain-eavesdropped-on-dublin-1106606.html

      2. M Gale

        Re: Bizarre in many ways

        The UK should obviously be able to seize all the USA's domain names as compensation for the USA direct support of the IRA.

        From what I'm aware though, that wasn't so much US.gov as much as it was a few fucking idiot Americans. "Oh them poor Irish under the thumb of the evil Imperial Bastards" or something.

        Never mind that a good portion of people in Northern Ireland actually like things the way they are, thus meaning that even if UK.gov washed its hands of the whole thing and said "there you go, it's yours", there would still be a bunch of pissed off people.

        Irish Assembly is about the best solution that could have happened out of that clusterfuck.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bizarre in many ways

          From what I'm aware though, that wasn't so much US.gov as much as it was a few fucking idiot Americans.

          Shall we search/replace IRA with KLA for a change? Disassembling captured Serbian civilians for organ sales on the black market. USA supported at state level. CIA advised and trained and protected till this day so they are the only party to the Yugo wars that cannot be dragged to the Haague tribunal.

          And do not even get me started about Checnia, Basayev and Beslan.

    2. streaky Silver badge

      Re: Bizarre in many ways

      "The US continues to fund many terrorist organisations and continues to launch drone strikes into countries which it is not at war at."

      The US is at war with Pakistan, it's just not a declared war. I'll get Barack to send you over a copy of the parchment.

  6. Christoph Silver badge

    What else can they seize?

    If the USA decides it can arbitrarily seize the property of another sovereign state, will it then decide that this includes the ability to seize the territory of that state?

    (Permanently as its own property, rather than temporarily by invasion and occupation or by subversion and installation of a puppet dictatorship.)

    1. Fatman Silver badge

      Re: What else can they seize?

      (Permanently as its own property,...

      I think the Mexicans might have a few things to add there!

    2. streaky Silver badge

      Re: What else can they seize?

      Well it'd be a WTO case. For the record the WTO finds against the US (yes, even for the little guy) all the time, which is why a Antigua and Barbuda can legally ignore intellectual property treaties as applies to the US (online poker related).

  7. Alistair Silver badge
    Coat

    @ Christoph

    They did try that one once.

    Now they have a "white" house. Perhaps that lesson is still tickling 'em late at night while they sleep.

    Smart, this judge, not putting himself in harms way. If he'd found leverage to pull .ir and hand it to anyone there would have been quite the free-for-all for the next few years while folks settled centuries old grudges .......

    1. asdf Silver badge

      Re: @ Christoph

      > Perhaps that lesson is still tickling 'em late at night while they sleep.

      Bah most history challenged Americans didn't even remember the lesson of Vietnam when we invaded Iraq so forget worrying about something 2 centuries ago, back when the UK was still a relevant world power.

  8. nigelroberts

    The nature of TLDs is not clear

    This judgment shows how difficult it is to determine exactly what was created in the 1990s when Czar Jon singlehandedly (in the most cases) handed out TLDs.

  9. Dr Paul Taylor

    Simpler argument?

    I don't want to defend Iran, where they execute people for being gay, amongst other things, but...

    If Amazon were ever to go bust then I am sure that courts would not hesitate to sieze their newly and expensively acquired .book top level domain (which by the way stikes me as being appropriation of the English language).

    But in the case of a sovereign country, siezing the Internet domain name .ir would make as much sense as siezing the telephone dialling code +98 or the name of the country as a postal destination.

    Surely there must be longstanding international or diplomatic law preventing such nonsense. The legal argument that this judge has used seems to be rather contrived.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Simpler argument?

      There is international law on things like phone codes - the international telecommunications union

      The US successfully lobbied to stop the ICANN contract going to them - remember all those stories in the summer about the threat of internet being taken over by the communist/foreigner loving UN ?

      1. asdf Silver badge

        Re: Simpler argument?

        Don't get me wrong the internet registry in the hands of any one country/corporation is a bad idea but when has the UN ever did anything but spread Cholera?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Simpler argument?

          The ITU is not the UN - that was part of the muddying the waters campaign - the US passed a ruling saying no to the UN having control and used that to veto ITU.

          1. asdf Silver badge

            Re: Simpler argument?

            Wasn't it the ITU or its predecessor that mandated 48+5 for the ATM cell size for lame political reasons. You know just about the worse size possible for a tcp ack packet (with ppp) which is the majority of packets on the internet (number wise). Design by committee with an extra heaping of politics. Win, win.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Simpler argument?

              Half the industry representatives wanted to use it for data and wanted efficent 64byte packets

              Half wanted it for phones and wanted low latency 32byte packets

              They compromised

              A bit like deciding that trucks should drive on the right for compatibility with europe but still having buses drive on the left so they didn't need to change the door.

            2. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "But in the case of a sovereign country, siezing the Internet domain name .ir would make as much sense as siezing the telephone dialling code +98 or the name of the country as a postal destination."

    You beat me to it -- I do see trying to seize a whole national-level domain as analogous to trying to seize the telephone country code, or postal codes.

    1. Vector

      " I do see trying to seize a whole national-level domain as analogous to trying to seize the telephone country code, or postal codes."

      And about as useful too. They're just letters and numbers. Even if the judge had handed the plaintiffs ".ir", Iran could've just switched to using something else (internationally sanctioned or not) to identify their domains. Might cause a bit of havoc initially, but long term, those folks would probably find themselves holding an empty bag.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        But it would set a precedent.

        Russia would seize the code for estonia, the US would have its own DNS that resolved differently.

        The French would decide that all .com should really go to .fr if used inside France

        The scots would decide that McDonalds.com should resolve to a small cafe in Edinburgh - except if your ISP was owned by an American corporation. Microsoft.com would go to gotse if you typed it on a Mac.

        1. gerdesj Silver badge

          "Russia would seize the code for estonia, the US would have its own DNS that resolved differently.

          The French would decide that all .com should really go to .fr if used inside France

          The scots would decide that McDonalds.com should resolve to a small cafe in Edinburgh - except if your ISP was owned by an American corporation. Microsoft.com would go to gotse if you typed it on a Mac."

          ... and yet life would still go on, somehow ...

          Cheers

          Jon

  11. Dave Bell

    I think the key point in all this is that the TLD has no value if it isn't operating. Which means that the claimants would somehow have to keep it operating, and keep collecting fees. and pay the bills.

    You can read this as a "Don't be silly." Where really is the money in grabbing control? And these people are claiming to be after money.

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