All Your .COM Domains Are Belong to U.S., Government Says

Paul Lilly

Do you own a .com domain? If so, the U.S. government can seize it at any time. The same applies to .net, org. .biz, and other top-level domains (TLDs), and it doesn't matter where you live. You could reside half way around the world. You could be hiding out in Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific ocean that you probably never heard of, and the U.S. government could still take control of your .com website.

How is this possible? According to a rather interesting report in Wired , Uncle Sam has done this "hundreds of times" and it's because the companies that administer these websites are based in the U.S., so says Nicole Navas, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman.

According to Navas, the U.S. government typically serves court-ordered seizures on VeriSign, an American company based in Reston, Virginia that operates two of the Internet's thirteen root nameservers and is the authoritative registrar for .com, .net, .cc, .tv, and .name. The U.S. government can also seize any .org domain, which are all managed by the Public Interest Registry, also based in Virginia.

Even foreign websites registered with a VeriSign subcontractor aren't safe from seizure. Bodog.com, for example, was registered with a Canadian registrar subcontracted by VeriSign, and that was enough for U.S. authorities to take control of the site without any help from Canadian officials.

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