The Endless (Cyber) Jurisdiction of the U.S. Government
Fascinating article on how the U.S. government can, if it chooses, force almost any website with the “.com” suffix to shut down.
…the U.S. government… says it has the right to seize any .com, .net and .org domain name because the companies that have the contracts to administer them are based on United States soil, according to Nicole Navas, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman.
The controversy highlights the unique control the U.S. continues to hold over key components of the global domain name system, and rips a Band-Aid off a historic sore point for other nations. A complicated web of bureaucracy and Commerce Department-dictated contracts signed in 1999 established that key domains would be contracted out to Network Solutions, which was acquired by VeriSign in 2000. That cemented control of all-important .com and .net domains with a U.S. company – VeriSign – putting every website using one of those addresses firmly within reach of American courts regardless of where the owners are located – possibly forever.
I think the system works pretty well for now, and I doubt creating an international regulatory system will improve things. But still, when the U.S. exercises its power over these sites indiscriminately, it will increase calls to break the U.S. government’s semi-control over the Internet.