The fight in courts over the US government’s seizure of gambling-related domain names is continuing with Wired reporting “federal prosecutors are asking a judge not to return the domain names of one of Spain’s most popular websites, seized as part of a major US crackdown on internet piracy.””The legal filing over Rojadirecta.com represents the government’s first legal response to a lawsuit challenging ‘Operation in Our Sites.'”The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized as many as 208 domains the authorities claim are linked to intellectual-property fraud, Wired reports, with the first seizures taking place in 2010. “The court-ordered seizures are aimed at web sites that sell counterfeited goods, as well as sites that facilitate illegal music, film and broadcast piracy.””The Rojadirecta .com and .org domains were seized in January along with eight others connected to broadcasting pirated streams of professional sports.”To read the Wired report in full, see:
Website owners around the world using .COM or .NET domain names could find themselves on piracy charges and even face extradition to the US even if their website does not break any local laws The Guardian reported.The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) is targeting websites outside America that they believe are “breaking US copyrights whether or not their servers are based in America or there is another direct US link, said Erik Barnett, the agency’s assistant deputy director.”The Guardian also reports that “As long as a website’s address ends in .com or .net, if it is implicated in the spread of pirated US-made films, TV or other media it is a legitimate target to be closed down or targeted for prosecution, Barnett said. While these web addresses are traditionally seen as global, all their connections are routed through Verisign, an internet infrastructure company based in Virginia, which the agency believes is sufficient to seek a US prosecution.”To read the full article in The Guardian, see:
Vice President Biden has been tasked with the job of cutting waste in their agencies as part of the Administration’s ongoing effort to make government more accountable to the American people.As one of the campaign’s first steps, the Administration will be targeting duplication and waste among federal websites. There are almost 2000 .GOV domain names with websites, and many microsites under these domains, across the Federal Government. With so many separate sites, Americans often do not know where to turn for information. The White House want to put a halt to the creation of any new websites, and will eliminate more than half of the existing sites over the next year.”For too long the federal government has allowed billions of taxpayer dollars to be wasted on inefficiencies,” said Vice President Biden. “Over the last two years, we have been slashing waste across government and today we are putting Washington on notice: the President and I are committed to changing the way government works and we are stepping up the hunt for misspent dollars.”Under many of the 2000 domains and microsites are an estimated 24,000 websites of varying purpose, design, navigation, usability, and accessibility.While many government websites each deliver value to the taxpayer through easy-to-use services and information, an overall online landscape of literally thousands of websites – each focusing on a specific topic or organization – can create confusion and inefficiency.In addition to confusing the public, duplicate and unnecessary websites also waste money. And while the costs for some of these websites may be relatively small, as President Obama also said in the video, “No amount of waste is acceptable. Not when it’s your money, not at a time when so many families are already cutting back.”So the federal government will do more with less, improving how it delivers information and services to the public by reducing the number of websites it maintains.As one of the first steps of the Campaign to Cut Waste and as part of an OMB memorandum to improve customer service, we’ve taken three concrete steps:
- Stop the bleeding. Starting right now, there is a freeze on all .gov URL’s. This means no one can get a new one without a written waiver from the federal CIO, Vivek Kundra. Facing this constraint, agencies will focus on their current infrastructure, adding content and functionality to existing websites.
- Map out the current landscape. To understand what’s working, and what isn’t, agencies will need to report on every URL they maintain. In addition, we’re enlisting the oversight of a powerful stakeholder: you. In the next 30 days, a list of all registered .gov domains will be published so that you can pore over them yourself and offer feedback.
- Develop a government-wide policy for websites. While it’s pretty obvious that we don’t need thousands of websites, what we do need is a little trickier. Should there only be one federal website? Is a more practical solution a common set of templates and standards so that sites are better connected to one another and more consistent to the public? A task force will consult with experts from the public and private sector to develop a policy for government websites moving forward. If you’re interested in participating in this process, let us know.
The Federal Trade Commission announced it reached a settlement putting a stop to the deceptive tactics of a Californian internet marketer that allegedly tricked British consumers into believing it was based in the United Kingdom by using websites with CO.UK domains. Under the settlement, the company also is banned from charging consumers for goods until they are in hand and ready to be shipped.The case was brought by the FTC under provisions added to the FTC Act by the U.S. SAFE WEB Act of 2006. SAFE WEB confirmed the agency’s authority to sue U.S.-based wrongdoers who harm consumers abroad, as part of a strategy to prevent the United States from becoming a haven for fraud.According to the FTC, California internet marketer Jaivin Karnani, his company, Balls of Kryptonite, and several associated companies, sold cameras, video games, and other electronic goods to thousands of British consumers. Because the defendants used websites with domain names such as bestpricedbrands.co.uk, bitesizedeals.co.uk, and crazycameras.co.uk, consumers believed they were buying from a company operating in the United Kingdom, and were therefore protected by manufacturer warranties that were valid there.The FTC’s complaint, filed in 2009, alleged that when consumers received the goods, they discovered they had been charged unexpected import duties, were left with invalid warranties, and would be charged draconian cancellation and refund fees if they attempted to return the merchandise. The defendants promised fast shipping dates, but usually did not meet those dates. Without the prior consent of consumers, as required by the FTC’s Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule (Mail Order Rule), the defendants allegedly shipped the goods much later than promised. When customers tried to cancel these delayed orders, they were met with stiff resistance, no response at all, or otherwise had difficulty obtaining refunds.The FTC also charged the defendants with deceiving consumers about their participation in the EU/US Safe Harbor Framework – a voluntary international program that provides a means for U.S. companies to transfer data from the European Union to the United States, and to assure European customers that they secure the customers’ personal information as required by EU law.The settlement order prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting: the location, quality, quantity, characteristics, and model numbers of products they sell; their compliance with or certification by government-sponsored information security programs; their policies regarding cancellation, exchange, or return; the existence of product warranties; and the total cost of the products sold.The FTC settlement order also prohibits the defendants from violating the Mail Order Rule, and it imposes a $500,000 judgement, which is suspended based on the defendants’ inability to pay. If it is determined that the financial information the defendants gave the FTC was untruthful, the full amount of the judgement will become due.More information is available from the FTC website here.
The FBI has seized domain names for online gambling websites in what the New York Times has described as “an aggressive attack on Internet gambling.” The charges against the operators of three of the most popular online poker sites by federal prosecutors include fraud and money laundering and saw eleven people charged.According to the Times, “Prosecutors charged that the operators of Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker tricked banks into processing billions of dollars in payments from customers in the United States. They said the actions violated a federal law passed in 2006 that prohibits illegal Internet gambling operations from accepting payments.””The online poker operators sought to avoid detection by banks and legal authorities by funneling payments through fictitious online businesses that purported to sell jewelry, golf balls and other items, according to the indictment. It says that when some banks processed the payments, they were unaware of the real nature of the business, but the site operators also bribed banks into accepting the payments.”Further, “experts in gambling law said that the forceful action raises tricky questions about gambling laws and the government’s reach.”The government also is seeking to recover $3 billion from the companies, reported the Los Angeles Times while two of the eleven people charged were arrested in the US. The remaining defendants are abroad with federal agents seeking the assistance of Interpol to capture the remaining defendants.The Times also reported that “ComScore, a company that measures Internet traffic, said that in March, Full Tilt Poker had 2.6 million visitors from the United States, PokerStars had 1.9 million and Absolute Poker had 1.3 million. ComScore also reported that 1.4 million people visited Ultimate Bet, a site that the federal indictment says joined forces last year with Absolute Poker. Those were the nation’s four most popular poker sites, ComScore said.”The tactics used, that is seizing domain names, are the same as those used last year against websites accused of copyright violations. As the Times notes, the tactic may only be temporarily effective as websites can re-establish themselves using a country code domain, for example, and be out the reach of US law enforcement.For more detailed reports on the domain name seizures from which information for the above story was sourced, see:
The US government is seeking public comment to enhance the performance of the IANA functions in the development and award of a new IANA functions contract.The call comes via a Request for Comments from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, part of the Department of Commerce. The NTIA notes “this is the first time NTIA has undertaken a comprehensive review of the IANA functions contract since the award of the first contract in 2000.”The RFC flags some interesting changes to IANA, including the possible break-up of the IANA functions, saying that “in light of technology changes and market developments, should the IANA functions continue to be treated as interdependent?”Other issues considered important are the stability and security of the DNS and whether “the current metrics and reporting requirements sufficient?”The IANA functions have historically included the following:
- The coordination of the assignment of technical Internet protocol parameters
- the administration of certain responsibilities associated with Internet DNS root zone management
- the allocation of Internet numbering resources
- other services related to the management of the .ARPA and .INT top-level domains.
ICANN currently performs these IANA roles on behalf of the United States Government through a contract with NTIA. The contract between the US government and ICANN expires on 30 September 2011 so the NTIA is seeking public comment to enhance the performance of the IANA functions in the development and award of a new IANA functions contract.Comments are due on or before March 31, 2011.More information can be found at www.ntia.doc.gov/frnotices/2011/fr_ianafunctionsnoi_02252011.pdf
Abstract: This Article suggests the time is ripe for the United States Supreme Court to interpret the fair use defense of free speech or parody under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (“ACPA”). The ACPA was enacted in 1999 to protect consumers from “cybersquatting,” or when a non-trademark holder registers a domain name of a trademark and attempts to: (1) sell the name either to the holder for a ransom or to the highest bidder; or (2) divert or confuse consumers.Although published decisions from the circuit courts interpreting the ACPA continue to explore the marriage of trademark protection with the First Amendment’s protections of domain names and websites as free speech, a conflicting criteria has emerged regarding when an alleged cybersquatter can successfully assert the fair use defense. For example, the Tenth Circuit’s standard is that it must be immediately apparent to anyone visiting a parodic website that it was not the trademark owner’s website. However, the Fourth Circuit’s criteria is whether the domain name at issue conveys two simultaneous, yet contradictory, messages: that it is the original and that it is not the original and is instead a parody. Such inconsistent criteria has the potential to render an alleged cybersquatter victorious in one circuit, yet liable in another circuit.This Article’s circuit-by-circuit analysis exposes the vast inconsistencies between the circuit courts’ decisions and argues that the United States Supreme Court should, by granting a petition for a writ of certiorari, articulate the standard for the ACPA’s fair use defense based upon free speech or parody.To download and read this research paper in full, see:
The Republicans in the US are working hard to keep the UN’s mitts off internet governance, with Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., reintroducing “a nonbinding resolution calling on President Obama to oppose any efforts by the United Nations to take over governance of the Internet,” reports Tech Daily Dose.”It has become increasingly clear that international governmental organizations, such as the United Nations, have aspirations to become the epicenter of Internet governance. And I’m going to do everything I can to make sure this never happens,” Bono Mack, the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade said in a statement.”Americans have always been skeptical about big government power grabs — and they have a right to be — especially when it impacts their daily lives. Any attempt by the United Nations to take over something that is so central to our economy is deeply troubling and a threat to American consumers. It is bad enough that we have to fight to keep the Federal Communications Commission’s hands off the Internet; just imagine having to convince governments like Iran and China.”The Internet has grown and thrived precisely because it has not been subjected to the suffocating effect of the heavy hand of government. Market-based policies, the free flow of information, and private sector leadership have allowed the Internet to flourish and become the world’s greatest communication platform. I urge the President and his Administration to oppose any effort to transfer control of the Internet to the United Nations or any other international governmental entity.”Bono Mack introduced a similar resolution in the previous congress, reported Tech Daily Dose. In her resolution, Bono Mack notes her concerns about some nations using “the internet as a tool of surveillance to curtail legitimate political discussion and dissent.” However given the recent release of US government cables and other correspondence through WikiLeaks and the ways in which the US has sought to find ways to put WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange before the courts in her country, she could easily have been referring to the US as one country that seeks to “use the internet as a tool of surveillance to curtail legitimate political discussion and dissent.”To see the text of House Resolution 57, see bono.house.gov/UploadedFiles/H._Res._57.pdf
Abstract: The Internet is in transition. The original address space, IPv4, is nearly exhausted; the Internet is in the progress of migrating to the new IPv6 address space. Continue reading Potential Impacts on Communications from IPv4 Exhaustion & IPv6 Transition by Robert Cannon, Federal Communications Commission; Cybertelecom
Abstract: The Internet is in transition. The original address space, IPv4, is nearly exhausted; the Internet is in the progress of migrating to the new IPv6 address space.The Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) developed in the late 1970s has the capacity for about 4 billion unique addresses. It would have been hard to imagine in the 1970s that 4 billion addresses were not going to be enough. But by the early 1990s, Internet engineers recognized that the supply of addresses was relatively limited compared to likely demand, and they set to work designing a successor to IPv4. They developed a new Internet Protocol, IPv6, with a vastly increased address space: 340 trillion trillion trillion addresses.Broadband Internet access has become essential to the United States and the rest of the world. The exhaustion of IPv4 addresses and the transition to IPv6 could result in significant, but not insurmountable, problems for broadband Internet services. In the short term, to permit the network to continue to grow, engineers have developed a series of kludges. These kludges include more efficient use of the IPv4 address resource, conservation, and the sharing of IPv4 addresses through the use of Network Address Translation (NAT). While these provide partial mitigation for IPv4 exhaustion, they are not a long-term solution, increase network costs, and merely postpone some of the consequences of address exhaustion without solving the underlying problem. Some of these fixes break end-to-end connectivity, impairing innovation and hampering applications, degrading network performance, and resulting in an inferior version of the Internet. These kludges require capital investment and ongoing operational costs by network service providers, diverting investment from other business objectives. Network operators will be confronted with increased costs to offer potentially inferior service.The short term solutions are necessary because there is not enough time to completely migrate the entire public Internet to “native IPv6” where end users can communicate entirely via IPv6. Network protocol transitions require significant work and investment, and with the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses looming, there is insufficient time to complete the full IPv6 transition.But the short-term solutions are problematic. The “solution to the solution” is to complete the transition to a native IPv6 network. A native IPv6 network will restore end-to-end connectivity with a vastly expanded address space, will improve network performance, and should decrease costs. Completing the transition of the public Internet to IPv6 will take time.To read this FCC article in full, see: