Image courtesy Wired.com

This new Wired.com article highlights how the U.S. Government uses American companies, like VeriSign, that manage top-level domains to force the seizure of Web sites that may have been registered internationally.

This poses a risk for business activity and creativity over the Internet, because even if some sort of activity isn’t illegal in the nation where the site is registered, Uncle Sam can still step in and shut down the site:

Bodog.com was targeted because federal law generally makes it illegal to offer online sports wagering and to payoff online bets in the United States, even though online gambling isn’t illegal globally.

Bodog.com was registered with a Canadian registrar, a VeriSign subcontractor, but the United States shuttered the site without any intervention from Canadian authorities or companies.

This is cause for concern, because organizations like the FBI and the Department of Justice are now vigorously patrolling the Internet, busting and seizing sites from around the globe that they deem threatening and/or illegal. While they mainly go after sites that offer copyrighted material for free or conduct illegal activity, eventually government organizations may start to attack sites whose proprietors had no idea they were committing offenses under U.S. law.

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