If you’re online, you’re in America, as far as US cops are concerned

Alex Hern reports on the uncomfortable fact that US law now seems to apply to everywhere online, no matter where you actually are

 

Last week, US cops seized the domain name of a Canadian gambling website, giving the unbelievable excuse that:

Sports betting is illegal in Maryland, and federal law prohibits bookmakers from flouting that law simply because they are located outside the country.

To clarify: You can’t flout US law simply by not being in the country. It is hard to view this act as anything short of America claiming jurisdiction over the entire internet, whether or not the company is itself from the US.

As the easyDNS blog reports:

At the end of the day what has happened is that US law (in fact, Maryland state law) as been imposed on a .com domain operating outside the USA, which is the subtext we were very worried about when we commented on SOPA.

Even though SOPA is currently in limbo, the reality that US law can now be asserted over all domains registered under .com, .net, org, .biz and maybe .info (Afilias [the company which runs the .info domain] is headquartered in Ireland but operates out of the US).

This is no longer a doom-and-gloom theory by some guy in a tin foil hat. It just happened.

The ramifications of this are no less than chilling and every single organization branded or operating under .com, .net, .org, .biz etc needs to ask themselves about their vulnerability to the whims of US federal and state lawmakers (not exactly known their cluefulness nor even-handedness, especially with regard to matters of the internet).

The wave of sites which went dark in protest over the stop online piracy act (SOPA) included several British ones, including Liberal Conspiracy; but this latest move demonstrates that, at least online, what America wants, America gets.

See also:

How we sold off the right to protest to the one per centAlex Hern, November 3rd 2011

The privatisation of public space is harming our ability to protestAlex Hern, October 30th 2011

Despite Mosley’s court defeat, press freedom remains under attackMichael Harris, May 11th 2011

The CPS, judiciary and Yasmin Alibhai Brown just don’t get TwitterMichael Harris, November 13th 2010

New Bill will drag libel laws from the 19th century into the 21stMichael Harris, June 2nd 2010

22 Responses to “If you’re online, you’re in America, as far as US cops are concerned”

  1. Nick

    The underlying issue is whether the people and entities involved in this case were providing internet gambling services to individuals in the USA – and seeking to avoid the prohibition on internet gambling by basing their servers etc. in Canada. I am not aware of the US authorities interfering with companies in the UK (using .com etc domains) who provide internet gambling to individuals in the UK.

    By analogy – would you say that it was alright for persons selling child porn over the internet to individuals in the UK to avoid the impact of UK criminal law merely by locating their servers in a lawless jurisdiction outside the UK?

  2. eric the hamster

    RT @leftfootfwd: If you're online, you're in America, as far as US cops are concerned: http://t.co/otk7Dbmj by @alexhern #extradition ?

  3. kannaniyyer

    RT @leftfootfwd: If you're online, you're in America, as far as US cops are concerned: http://t.co/otk7Dbmj by @alexhern #extradition ?

  4. ContentiousMoi

    RT @leftfootfwd: If you're online, you're in America, as far as US cops are concerned: http://t.co/otk7Dbmj by @alexhern #extradition ?

  5. Amanda Fessenden

    If you're online, you're in America, as far as US cops are concerned: http://t.co/6GgiE6pC

  6. Social Media Law

    RT @noxhanti @leftfootfwd: If ur online, ur in US, as far as US cops concerned: http://t.co/eXlGcEbB by @alexhern

  7. Dallman Ross

    If you're online, you're in America, as far as US cops are concerned: http://t.co/BJcL9Sa9 by @alexhern

  8. Tommy Vandepitte

    USA rules the world http://t.co/XUDBx6ik , just as the EU (privacy), UK (bribery act), … Don't you love #globalisation?

  9. Kieran Gallie

    Canadian domain seized for violating US law :http://t.co/0mB0maHN

  10. Chris Salter

    RT @leftfootfwd: If you're online, you're in America, as far as US cops are concerned http://t.co/k7H3Krry #ppnews

  11. Rebecca Devitt

    RT @leftfootfwd: If you're online, you're in America, as far as US cops are concerned http://t.co/k7H3Krry #ppnews

  12. MagsNews

    RT @leftfootfwd: If you're online, you're in America, as far as US cops are concerned http://t.co/ElKeJtiu

  13. Jeni Parsons

    RT @leftfootfwd: If you're online, you're in America, as far as US cops are concerned http://t.co/MKT7nM9M USA rules OK? Well, no, actually

  14. Stephen Walker

    If you're online, you're in America, as far as US cops are concerned: http://t.co/BJcL9Sa9 by @alexhern

  15. Julia O'Dwyer

    RT @leftfootfwd: If you're online, you're in America, as far as US cops are concerned http://t.co/QtcjXIgo #Extradition #RichardO

  16. The World Outside Westminster – Romney marches on towards Super Tuesday reckoning | Left Foot Forward

    […] If you’re online, you’re in America, as far as US cops are concerned – Alex […]

  17. Newsbot9

    Then you haven’t paid attention, they did indeed hit Channel Isle companies which didn’t specifically advertise in the US several years ago.

  18. shana wilcox

    RT @leftfootfwd: If you're online, you're in America, as far as US cops are concerned http://t.co/QtcjXIgo #Extradition #RichardO

  19. Julia O'Dwyer

    RT @leftfootfwd: If you're online, you're in America, as far as US cops are concerned http://t.co/QtcjXIgo #Extradition #RichardO

  20. Dave Sharp

    RT @leftfootfwd: If you're online, you're in America, as far as US cops are concerned http://t.co/QtcjXIgo #Extradition #RichardO

  21. Kevin Davidson

    RT @leftfootfwd: If you're online, you're in America, as far as US cops are concerned http://t.co/QtcjXIgo #Extradition #RichardO

  22. Len Firewood

    RT @leftfootfwd: If you're online, you're in America, as far as US cops are concerned http://t.co/QtcjXIgo #Extradition #RichardO

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