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,, 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: " 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.

User Comments: 15

Got something to say? Post a comment
Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

Oh this day just keeps on getting better and better

Jesse Jesse said:

This is an outrage!

colinf said:

go team america world police!!

bet the small businesses accused of child porn love you

PaulWuzHere PaulWuzHere said:

Does the US know there is a war going on?

Guest said:

Working in IT I am already seeing more and more businesses moving their data-centers away from U.S. due to the shoot first, ask questions later mentality.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Mistakenly as in the order mistakenly included instructions that would result in the 84,000 domains being shut down, or mistakenly as in the people who enacted the order mistakenly ended up shutting off 84,000 domains. In other words, was the end effect a mistake of the gov't or the people who physically pulled the plug?

I don't have a problem with child porn domains being shut down, but I would hope that either the people making decisions, or carrying them out, are able to do so in a way that minimizes such collateral damage. And I certainly hope that these businesses are offered some kind of restitution for the economic damage caused by this "mistake".

hassaan said:

Neo-gestapo... that's what I call these.....

Guest said:

LOL working as a network administrator, i dont the 2 years i've been doing networking that i've set up any networks that run servers straight in the US. Hrm...Wonder why?

Most of the servers are in Germany or Sweden. But even sweden is a little sketchy.

Guest said:

Big deal....84.000 porno sites in minus,

there is plenty of 'em over the Internet

Go Go American Global Justice and masonic peace by cutting free porno

Guest said:

Lol either die a hero, or stay long enough to become the enemy. Who cares if they seized stuff that was incorrect. They returned it, and better to help then to do nothing at all.

treetops treetops said:

Everyone makes mistakes, **** happens. Instead of busting counterfiet websites wouldnt our tax payer money be better spent busting corporate embezzlers and potential ponzy scheme douche bags who caused the global economy to spiral into ruin? Or maybe use it to bust meth labs? I guarantee 90% of tax payers would rather see there money busting meth labs, isn't the government for the people?

Of course shutting down child porn is a good thing.

matrix86 matrix86 said:

Treetops said:

isn't the government for the people?

!!!!!!!! Come on dude, wake up. This is the 21st century. The government has given the finger to the ideals and morals they were founded on.

Now, I have no problem with what they're doing. Child porn needs to go because that's just wrong. Counterfeit sites need to go because they cause a lot of problems. But if you're going to do it, you need to be damn sure everything is in order. You need to be very thorough and do a double (and maybe even triple) check.

PlutoCrazy said:

My websites didn't go down, so I wasn't accused of being a pervert... but man, if I'd been one of those effected the slander, defamation, libel and loss of income suit my lawyers would be filing would make a Power Ball Lottery win look like chump change.

So what's 84,000 lawsuits for DHS stupidity gonna cost the US taxpayer I wonder?

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Matrix86 Said:

. You need to be very thorough and do a double (and maybe even triple) check.

The Department of Redundancy Department lost their sheet of carbon paper... what an original mistake.

gooderguy gooderguy said:

Wow, maybe one day we'll see a headline... "US government accidentally hits internet kill switch" ...ooops!

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.