US government mistakenly shuts down 84,000 websites

By on February 17, 2011, 9:40 AM
The US Government once again seized several domain names this week, but this time it made a mistake. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement branch (ICE) took down websites related to counterfeit goods and child pornography. As with previous seizures, ICE convinced a District Court judge to sign a seizure warrant, and then had the domain registries in question point to a server that hosts a warning message.

Unfortunately, one of the targeted domains, mooo.com, belonged to the DNS provider FreeDNS, and as result, 84,000 websites were mistakenly taken down. These sites saw the following message on their website, according to TorrentFreak: "Advertisement, distribution, transportation, receipt, and possession of child pornography constitute federal crimes that carry penalties for first time offenders of up to 30 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution." The FreeDNS owner quickly released the following statement on their website: "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."

This happened on Friday, and on Sunday the domain seizure was reverted. The subdomains slowly started to point to the old sites again instead of the accusatory banner, but since the DNS entries had to propagate, it took up to three more days before the images disappeared everywhere.


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