US Internet Imperialism Strikes (Again!)

Wired has run a decent piece surrounding unilateral American seizures of domain names by acting on critical infrastructure governed by US law. A key bit from the article to get you interested: was registered with a Canadian registrar, a VeriSign subcontractor, but the United States shuttered the site without any intervention from Canadian authorities or companies.

Instead, the feds went straight to VeriSign. It’s a powerful company deeply enmeshed in the backbone operations of the internet, including managing the .com infrastructure and operating root name servers. VeriSign has a cozy relationship with the federal government, and has long had a contract from the U.S. government to help manage the internet’s “root file” that is key to having a unified internet name system.

These domain seizures are a big deal. Despite what some have written, even a .ca address (such as the address country code top level domain linked to this website) could be subjected to a take down that leverages the root file. In effect, US copyright law combined with American control of critical Internet infrastructure is being used to radically extend America’s capability to mediate the speech rights of foreign citizens.

The capacity for the US to unilaterally impact the constitution of the Web is not a small matter: such actions threaten the sovereign right to establish policy and law that governs the lives of citizens living in countries like Canada, Russia, Australia, and Europe generally. Something must be done, and soon, before the Web – and the Internet with it – truly begins to fracture.

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