Report: U.S. government can seize any .com domain

If you own and operate a web site outside the United States with a domain name ending in .com, net, .cc, .tv or .name and think you are safe from any issues with the U.S. government, think again. Wired reports that U.S. law enforcement officials believe they have the rights to go after any web site with those domain names because the company that manages them, VeriSign, is based in the United States.

Even if you use a domain name registration service that's outside the U.S. your web site could still be seized. That was proven last week when American law enforcement officials seized the popular sports gambling web site Bodog.com. That web site used DomainClip, which was based in Canada. However, DomainClip is actually a subsidiary of VeriSign and that loophole apparently allowed United States authorities to shut down Bodog.com.

VeriSign offered a brief statement about this report, saying:

VeriSign responds to lawful court orders subject to its technical capabilities. When law enforcement presents us with such lawful orders impacting domain names within our registries, we respond within our technical capabilities.

If you operate a web site with the .org domain name, it's also possible that the site could be seized by the U.S. government. The .org domain is managed by another U.S.-based company, the Public Interest Registry.

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