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Posts published in “Day: December 10, 2011”

Domain name site-seizing

When the international monitors of the Internet domain name system decided to add .xxx to their list of allowable suffixes, did they have any idea what sort of business models would be unleashed?

They probably didn't expect universities snapping up those domains.

But universities around the country are doing just that, grabbing the rights to .xxx domains. The University of Washington among them.

That's where some of Washington's tax dollars are going, according to a Seattle Times report: "The UW also spent several thousand dollars to protect university trademarks, focusing on the brands UW, Huskies and Dawgs to keep them from being turned into ".xxx" websites, said Kathy Hoggan, director of trademarks and licensing for the UW. Officials at the university didn't spend a lot of time trying to imagine what twists the adult-entertainment industry might put on the UW's image: "It's difficult for us to anticipate what might come to a porno mind," Hoggan said, laughing."

You can understand why, and sympathize a bit in cases like this.

It surely must be better than government agencies seizing sites - secretly and without any allowable challenge.

That latter activity, just coming to light, has outraged Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, who's turned into the chief national Internet defender in recent months.

Consider this from the site Threat Level:

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) said Friday he would demand answers from the Department of Homeland Security about its domain seizure program known as Operation in Our Sites after it was revealed that the government kept a hip-hop music review site’s name for a year without affording the owner a chance to challenge the seizure.

Wyden also wants to know why there was no court record of the case, other than the initial seizure filing a year ago.

“I expect the administration will be receiving a series of FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requests from our office and that the senator will have very pointed questions with regard to how the administration chooses to target the sites that it does,” said Jennifer Hoelzer, a Wyden spokeswoman. She said the senator was “particularly interested in learning how many secret dockets exist for copyright cases. There doesn’t seem to be an obvious precedent or explanation for that.”

Wyden’s interest comes a day after federal authorities returned the domain name dajaz1.com, which was back online greeting visitors Friday with a powerful message about proposed web-censorship legislation that expands the government — and copyright holders — power to shutter and cripple sites suspected of copyright infringement.

The effort to keep the Internet open will be an ongoing one.