Sunday, 6 March 2011

US Government 'Accidentally' Shut Down 84,000 Websites

The US Government has forcefully closed several domain names this week. The Department of Justice and Homeland Security’s ICE office proudly announced that they had seized domains related to counterfeit goods and child pornography. What they haven't mentioned however, is that one of the targeted domains belongs to a free DNS provider and that 84,000 websites were wrongfully accused of links to child pornography crimes. 


As part of “Operation Save Our Children” ICE’s Cyber Crime Center has seized several domain names, but not without making a huge error.  Thousands of site owners were surprised by a rather worrying banner that was placed on their domain. This banner was visible on the 84,000 sites:


A District Court judge signed a seizure warrant and then contacted the domain registries to point the domains in question to a server that hosts the warning message. However, somewhere in this process a mistake was made and as a result the domain of a large DNS service provider was seized.

The domain in question is mooo.com, which belongs to the DNS provider FreeDNS. It is the most popular shared domain at afraid.org and as a result a massive 84,000 subdomains were wrongfully seized as well. The FreeDNS owner was taken by surprise and quickly released the following statement on their site. 

“Freedns.afraid.org has never allowed this type of abuse of its DNS service. We are working to get the issue sorted as quickly as possible.”

Eventually, the domain seizure was reverted and the subdomains slowly started to point to the old sites again instead of the accusatory banner. Since the DNS entries have to propagate, it took another three days before the images disappeared completely. Most the subdomains in question are personal sites and sites of small businesses - a rather damaging accusation, which scared and upset many of the site’s owners.

One of the customers quickly went out to assure visitors that his site was not involved in any of the alleged crimes, stating, “You can rest assured that I have not and would never be found to be trafficking in such distasteful and horrific content. A little sleuthing shows that the whole of the mooo.com TLD is impacted. At first, the legitimacy of the alerts seems to be questionable — after all, what reputable agency would display their warning in a fancily formatted image referenced by the underlying HTML? I wouldn’t expect to see that.”

Although it has not been explained how this massive error was made the Department of Homeland security appears to be sweeping it under the rug. In a new press release, the authorities were obviously proud of themselves for taking down 10 domain names, failing to note that 84,000 websites were wrongfully taken down in the process, shaming thousands of people in the process.

13 comments:

  1. i always enjoy keeping up with torrent news. ever since the big news with the pirate bay legal problems it has been quite a hot topic.

    im glad you enjoyed my blog as well!

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  2. Hey thanks for commenting, the us government got this one wrong, but at least they are taking a proactive approach. Followed.

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  3. I think i'll go accidently download some more films.

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  4. Oh wow what a big mess up. Followed! alphabetalife.blogspot.com

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  5. Hahaha, what a fuckup. Sue for damages, its the American way.

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  6. 84k?, i'd sue them thats the American way :D :D

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  7. Wooow, interesting facts and read. Hopefully the non-bad ones will eventually get their website back and money that potential users would have delivered.

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  8. Woah when did that happen, that's pretty bad.

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  9. Ha, if they were correct however, 84k of websites is a massive tonne of Child Pornography. The internet can be a dark place.

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  10. its true the internet can be a dark place but you cant just shut down the shit it wont change people .you gotta take the problems at the source and thats not the internet

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  11. Woah, I never even heard of this.... 0_0

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