Uncle Sam: If it ends in .com it’s seizable

Posted: 2012/03/08 in Uncategorized

Uncle Sam: If it ends in .com it’s seizable

picture link: “Uncle Sam”

What is the United States government really “capable” of doing on the internet?

The recent indictment of the Canadian billionaire, Calvin Ayre, on illegal online gambling charges has been raising the concern that anyone who owns a .com domain could find themselves subject to U.S. law, even if their activities are entirely outside the United States. Ayre is the founder and owner of Bodog.com, a sports gambling site that operated on a worldwide scale. Online gambling on sports is illegal under U.S. law, although it is legal in many other countries, to include Canada. Ayre now faces up to 25 years in U.S. prison, although online sports gambling is not illegal in Canada (where he is a legal resident).

Bodog.com was shut down under a U.S. federal court order, and the page now redirects to a Homeland Security takedown notice. Other Bodog sites, such as Bodog.co.uk and Bodog.eu, however, continue to operate due to fact that they are not associated with the .com domain. What has Internet freedom advocates worried is that Bodog.com was not registered in the United States, but in Canada, and the indictment against Ayre lists “the movement of funds outside the U.S.” as a basis for the prosecution.

Picture Link

According to a report at the tech website EasyDNS, bogdog.com was registered under a Vancouver based domain not associated with the United States. However, all .com domains are being managed through the California-based internet company named VeriSign, who has been contracted by the U.S. government in order to do so.  It was this organization that was given a court order by the U.S. government to shut down Bodog.com.

The U.S. government, according to Nicole Navas, who is an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman, stated that the U.S. government has the right to seize ANY .com, .net and .org domain name because the companies have contracts based on United States soil.

Seizures, such as the one just described, are becoming more and more common under the Obama administration.  The U.S. government program known as Operation in our Sites, acquires federal court orders to shut down web sites it believes are selling counterfeited goods, illegal sports streams, and unauthorized movies and music sites. Navas also stated that the U.S. government has seized over 750 domain names, “most with foreign-based registrars.”

This is a great example of how websites are under constant surveillance by governments and private organizations not just in the U.S., but worldwide.  The question is, in regards to this article, does the U.S. have the right to shut down a website that is operating legally in the country that it originated?  In my opinion, this is an ongoing control issue over the .com domain.  Incidences such as this will force people to re-think creating websites associated with the U.S.;  in fear of prosecution, or that one day their website might suddenly be shut down without notice.  I strongly believe that the internet should be protected against criminal acts and other illegal activities (for obvious reasons), however, where should  the line be drawn between what’s right and wrong?


Uncle Sam



  1. ★YUKA★ says:

    Great presentation!!!
    It is easy for me to understand that there are difference policy rules between America and Canada.
    Thank you for explaining:)

  2. D. Price says:

    this is so ridiculous. it never ceases to amaze me when i see some of the stuff our government wastes its time with…
    like seriously, don’t they have more important things to worry about? i hear the economy is pretty messed up…

  3. lockmantuj says:

    This is a useful and thoughtful explanation of what seems to be a rather complex legal issue. It looks like it all hinges on the fact that the .com domains are run through the VeriSign which is under some sort of contract arrangement with the U.S. govt. (as you described).

    It does seem odd that citizens of another country could be indicted under U.S. without setting foot in the United States.

    I think the question you raise at the end is the most important and most startling one: where does the line get drawn?

  4. […] Thanks to Alex for the discussion. His blog post on the article can be found here. […]

  5. That is the proper weblog for anyone who needs to seek out out about this topic. You notice so much its almost laborious to argue with you (not that I actually would want…HaHa). You positively put a new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!

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