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03|05|2008 11:11 am EDT

U.S. Government Blacklists 80 Tourism Websites

by Chad Kettner in Categories: Up to the Minute

The New York Times posted an interesting article regarding Steve Marshall, an English travel agent that had 80 websites blacklisted by the United States government. According to the story, the Treasury Department told eNom to disable Marshall’s tourism sites because they helped Americans evade travel restrictions to Cuba. This case raises the issue of free speech online and how much of the internet a government should be allowed to control.

[via New York Times]

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9 Comments

Antony

March 5, 2008 @ 1:22 pm EDT

If my experience with the Treasury Dept. is any guide, it’s not that they told eNom to block a site. Instead, they probably told eNom that it was illegal to do trade with Cuba (or profit from it), and that since this travel did business there, and eNom profited as the registrar of the name, eNom might be violating U.S. law.

The result is the same, but for the moment the gov’t is pretending that it’s not censoring speech.

eNom is particularly sensitive to this issue because they happened to have registered the domain name for Al-Manar, the Hezbollah TV and radio station. I think that caught them off-guard, and because dealing with the Treasury Dept. is so unpleasant, they decided to be extra “vigilant.”

This unfortunate behavior by the US Gov’t provides one of the few good reasons why ICANN should turn itself into an unaccountable non-national body with special rights and no oversight, such as the International Olympic Committee. This is what ICANN CEO Paul Twomey has pushed for, and the rest of us should fear.

Michele

March 5, 2008 @ 3:09 pm EDT

ICANN needs to distance itself from US legislation. It’s simply nuts to think that one government’s laws can affect a business on the other side of the globe where they have zero right to influence policy.

Frank Michlick

March 5, 2008 @ 10:33 pm EDT

The problem is if going after the registrar does not work (maybe because they are not located in the US), they would go after the registry operator.

So while I agree with Michele, for this specific case it matters little which legislation ICANN is under.

/FM

Alan

March 5, 2008 @ 10:38 pm EDT

This is crazy. How much of our civil liberties can we let bush take away. I hope the ACLU takes this case and gets the sites back on-line. 99% of the free world can travel to Cuba, so Bush dictates what the rest of the world can see.

CairSucks

March 7, 2008 @ 9:50 pm EDT

But what would suck even more is letting China or Iran or some islamic cesspool run the internet. If you think that this is censorship, this is nothing if the UN get their grimy hands on the controls of the internet.

AhmedF

March 8, 2008 @ 12:50 am EDT

Uhoh, it looks like there is a bigot in the house (and an anonymous coward at that).

The UN is not some organization that is run by one person … just like the US government is not (which explains why some departments are run well, and some are not). The UN department in charge of international telecommunications actually does a damn good job. I don’t recall China filtering what you can talk about on the phone? When was the last time the UN censored you?

Regardless, it is a fact that there are far less restrictive and repressive governments than the US. The argument that there are worse ones belongs in the annals of idiocy. Just because there is worse we should settle for bad?

Sheesh.

Dave Zan

March 8, 2008 @ 12:54 am EDT

If my experience with the Treasury Dept. is any guide, it’s not that they told eNom to block a site. Instead, they probably told eNom that it was illegal to do trade with Cuba (or profit from it), and that since this travel did business there, and eNom profited as the registrar of the name, eNom might be violating U.S. law.

It was either that or continue doing business with Mr. Marshall…and risk possibly stiff penalties. I guess it so happens there’s a specific law addressing that rather specific scenario.

Maybe VeriSign ought to buy their own island and move in. Of course, they might need to invest in laser defenses, Metal Gear, or whatever. :D

Stephen Douglas

April 6, 2008 @ 5:46 am EDT

The fact that the “REPUBLICAN ADMINISTRATION” of GW BUSH, which supposedly promotes itself as having government OUTSIDE our lives, now uses their govt power to bully a registrar to shut down domains to sites they don’t like, should be a wake up call to domainers in the U.S.

The reason I say “domainers” and not “everyone in the U.S.” is, if the citizens of the U.S. haven’t caught on to the unbelievable evisceration of their rights by the ironically named “Patriot Act” and other GW Bush treasonous acts against our Constitution, then we’re screwed because nobody is minding the store.

If we don’t reverse this course within two years, I am stating right now… stock up on food and water and ammunition.

It’s funny that 7 years ago, my friends were laffing at my warnings of freedom/privacy invasions by the govt. They called me a conspiracy freak. Now they’re asking me for advice on how to protect themselves against the U.S. Govt.

Sergio

April 6, 2008 @ 8:21 pm EDT

@Stephen: Do you really feel that things would be any different if there was a “DEMOCRAT ADMINISTRATION” running things? Or is “GW Bush” just an easy and popular target of which to aim your disatisfaction with the way the AMERICAN GOVERNMENT conducts foreign policies? – which, I may add, date back to the days of Jimmy Carter and even JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis?
Would you feel better if the American Government stopped monitoring daily activities of suspected terrorists? or will you be the first to tear them down the minute another 9/11 takes place? We’re no longer living in the age of “woulda shoulda coulda…” – need I elaborate?

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