Tag Archives: united states

FBI Seizes Domain Names In Online Gambling Crackdown

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:

US Government Reviews IANA And Flags Issues For Possible Change

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:

  1. The coordination of the assignment of technical Internet protocol parameters
  2. the administration of certain responsibilities associated with Internet DNS root zone management
  3. the allocation of Internet numbering resources
  4. 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

Why the Fair Use Defense of Free Speech or Parody Under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act Needs Judicial Review by the United States Supreme Court by Monique B. Lampke

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:

US Republican Moves to Keep UN Away From Internet Governance

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

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. Continue reading Potential Impacts on Communications from IPv4 Exhaustion & IPv6 Transition by Robert Cannon, Federal Communications Commission; Cybertelecom

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:

COICA Would See Domain Names As New Way for US to Regulate Net: Geist

The US government’s attempt to censor internet content with the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act that was recently introduced into the US Senate is examined by Canadian Professor Michael Geist in his recent column in The Toronto Star.The bill, also known as COICA, was described by the Electronic Frontier Foundation as flawed. The EFF said the bill if enacted “would allow the Attorney General and the Department of Justice to break the Internet one domain at a time – by requiring domain registrars/registries, ISPs, DNS providers, and others to block Internet users from reaching certain websites. … The bill would also create two Internet blacklists.”Geist says the domain name block list, also referred to as a “blacklist”, is “already being dubbed the Great Firewall of America – would be created through a censorship court order obtained by the U.S. Attorney General. The court order could be used to shut down a site located within the U.S. or to order Internet providers to block access to the domain name if the site resides outside the country.”He goes on to say “the Department of Justice could identify additional domain names that are “dedicated to infringing activities.” Despite the absence of any court oversight, this second list would also likely involve blocked domains since Internet providers would be immune from liability provided they curtail access to them.”Geist also notes the bill would target websites anywhere in the world “since any domain – wherever located – may placed on the list.”To read this article by Professor Michael Geist in full in The Toronto Star, see:

EFF Slams US COICA Bill as Internet Censorship Allowing Domain Deletion

The legislation introduced on Monday this week that aims to curb online piracy and the sale of counterfeit goods through deleting domain names has been slammed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.The legislation, a short bill, called the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” (COICA) is described as flawed by the EFF. It “would allow the Attorney General and the Department of Justice to break the Internet one domain at a time – by requiring domain registrars/registries, ISPs, DNS providers, and others to block Internet users from reaching certain websites,” said the EFF. “The bill would also create two Internet blacklists.”The EFF describes the two lists as thus:
“The first is a list of all the websites hit with a censorship court order from the Attorney General. The second, more worrying, blacklist is a list of domain names that the Department of Justice determines — without judicial review — are ‘dedicated to infringing activities.’ The bill only requires blocking for domains in the first list, but strongly suggests that domains on the second list should be blocked as well by providing legal immunity for Internet intermediaries and DNS operators who decide to block domains on the second blacklist as well. (It’s easy to predict that there will be tremendous pressure for Internet intermediaries of all stripes to block these ‘deemed infringing’ sites on the second blacklist.)”The EFF goes on to say the bill is a censorship bill that “censorship bill that runs roughshod over freedom of speech on the Internet.” The legislation blocks a whole domain name, not just the infringing part of the website. Not only that, but the EFF notes “the DMCA already gives copyright owners legal tools to remove infringing material piece-by-piece, and to obtain injunctions requiring ISPs to block certain offshore infringing websites.”The EFF describes the bill as being poorly drafted and asks what “governments deny their citizens access to parts of the Internet? For now, it is mostly totalitarian, profoundly anti-democratic regimes that keep their citizens from seeing the whole Internet. With this bill, the United States risks telling countries throughout the world, ‘Unilateral censorship of websites that the government doesn’t like is okay — and this is how you do it.'”It is also not very good at dealing with technology with “even a relatively unsophisticated technologist can begin to imagine the workarounds: a return to encrypted peer-to-peer, modified /etc/hosts files (that don’t rely on the domain name system for finding things on the Internet), and other tools, which will emerge and ensure that committed pirates have a way to route around the bill’s damage to the DNS system.”The EFF concludes that to them “COICA looks like another misguided gift to a shortsighted industry whose first instinct with respect to the Internet is to try to break it. There are still many questions to be answered, but one thing is for sure — this bill allows the government to suppress truthful speech and could block access to a wealth of non-infringing speech, and the end result will do little to protect artists or mollify the industries that profit from them. Stay tuned for more analysis, information, and steps you can take to fight Internet censorship.”To read the EFF’s analysis in full of the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act or COICA, see www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/09/censorship-internet-takes-center-stage-online.

US Lawmakers Seek Powers To Shut Illegal Websites

In a bid to curb online piracy and the sale of counterfeit goods, a group of key US lawmakers are introduced legislation on Monday that would give the Justice Department the power to “file an in rem civil action against a domain name on Internet sites dedicated to infringing activities,” reports Tech Daily Dose.

“The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act will give the Department of Justice an expedited process for cracking down on these rogue Web sites regardless of whether the Web site’s owner is located inside or outside of the United States,” according to a statement from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and committee member Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Utah).

“Each year, online piracy and the sale of counterfeit goods cost American businesses billions of dollars, and result in hundreds of thousands of lost jobs,” Leahy, a co-sponsor of the bill, said. “The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act will protect the investment American companies make in developing brands and creating content and will protect the jobs associated with those investments.”

According to a staffer from Leahy’s office, if the site resides outside the United States, the bill would authorise “the attorney general to serve the court order on other specified third parties, such as Internet service providers, payment processors, and online ad network providers,” according to a further report from CNET.

CNET believes that the legislation would attempt to stop the websites from being accessible from the US “or cut them off from credit card transactions or receiving ad revenue from U.S. companies.”

The legislation has bipartisan support and was applauded by representatives from the film, television and music industries in the US.

FTC Halts Canadian/US Domain Registration Scam

The Federal Trade Commission has permanently halted the operations of Canadian con artists who allegedly posed as domain name registrars and convinced thousands of U.S. consumers, small businesses and non-profit organisations to pay bogus bills by leading them to believe they would lose their domain names unless they paid.In the case a federal district court judge in Chicago, Robert M. Dow, Jr., ordered a temporary halt to the deceptive claims and froze the defendants’ assets, pending trial. The settlement and default judgment orders announced today end that litigation. The settlement order and default judgement were made in March, however the judgement was only made public on Monday this week.Settlement and default judgment orders signed by the court will bar the deceptive practices in the future, although stipulated orders are for settlement purposes only and do not necessarily constitute an admission by the defendants of a law violation. However stipulated orders have the full force of law when signed by the judge.In June 2008, the FTC charged Toronto-based Internet Listing Service with sending fake invoices to small businesses and others, listing the existing domain name of the consumer’s web site or a slight variation on the domain name, such as substituting “.org” for “.com.” The invoices appeared to come from the businesses’ existing domain name registrar and instructed them to pay for an annual “WEBSITE ADDRESS LISTING.” The invoices also claimed to include a search engine optimization service. Most consumers who received the “invoices” were led to believe that they had to pay them to maintain their registrations of domain names. Other consumers were induced to pay based on Internet Listing Service’s claims that its “Search Optimization” service would “direct mass traffic” to their sites and that their “proven search engine listing service” would result in “a substantial increase in traffic.”The FTC’s complaint charged that most consumers who paid the defendants’ invoices did not receive any domain name registration services and that the “search optimization” service did not result in increased traffic to the consumers’ Web sites.The orders bar the defendants from misrepresenting: that they have a preexisting business relationship with consumers; that consumers owe them money; that they will provide domain name registration; and that they will provide “search optimization services” that will substantially increase traffic to consumers’ Web sites. The defendants are also required to disclose any material restrictions or aspects of any goods or services they provide.The settlement order, entered against defendants Isaac Benlolo, Kirk Mulveney, Pearl Keslassy, and 1646153 Ontario Inc., includes a suspended judgment of $4,261,876, the total amount of consumer injury caused by the illegal activities. Based on the inability of the settling defendants to pay, they will turn over $10,000 to satisfy the judgment. The default judgment order was entered against defendant Steven E. Dale and includes a judgment in the amount of $4,261,876.Charges against Ari Balabanian and Data Business Solutions were dismissed by the court at the FTC’s request.