DHS Shuts Down Thousands of Websites | Mistake Corrected, But Shows Power of Agency to Smash Communications

84,000 websites wrongly culled for child pornography


Steven Mostyn|The Tech Herald

Authorities in the United States have been left wiping egg of their collective faces after news broke that an eagerness to clean the Internet resulted in the accidental dumping of 84,000 innocent websites on a FreeDNS server.

The trigger-happy decision was made by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Cyber Crime Center, which this week yanked a host of domains in its battle against online child pornography.

While the Cyber Crime Center’s motives were certainly pure, its seemingly blind dredging tactics against suspect domains forced mooo.com and its 84,000 sites offline for almost three days, leaving only the following (potentially damaging) placeholder notice in its place:

This domain name has been seized by ICE – Homeland Security Investigations pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court under the authority of Title 18 U.S.C. 2254.

Advertisement, distribution, transportation, receipt, and possession of child pornography constitute federal crimes that carry penalties for first time offenders of up to 30 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution.

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