Secret Service suspends JotForm.com

Another website succumbed to the reach of the federal government, at least for a couple days. This time it was JotForm, an online service that allows users to create forms for websites and is host to more than two million of these forms. The site was suspended by the U.S. Secret Service due to user-created content according to Aytekin Tank, a co-founder of the company that created JotForm.

"As a part of an ongoing investigation about a [sic] content posted in our site, a US government agency has temporarily suspended our jotform.com domain," Tank wrote in a blog post Wednesday. "We are fully cooperating with them, but it is not possible to say when the domain would be unblocked."

JotForm.com was disabled Wednesday without warning by GoDaddy, the host of the company's domain. GoDaddy cited an ongoing law enforcement investigation, and told Tank to contact the Secret Service. In a Hacker News forum post, Tank said that the agent in charge of the operation was less than helpful. Tank suspects that the issue may have stemmed from a phishing form created with the JotForm service. "Our guess is that this is probably about a phishing form," he wrote in the forum post. "We take phishing very seriously. Our Bayesian phishing filter has suspended 65.000 accounts last year."

Tank reported in an update to his blog post that the suspension was lifted as of 5pm EST on Thursday. While the DNS for JotForm.com began pointing back to the correct names as of Thursday evening, the change was still in the process of propagating and might not load properly for everyone. During the downtime, Tank recommended that users change the form URLs from jotform.com to jotform.net to avoid problems.

"This can happen to any site that allows public [sic] to post content," Tank wrote in his blog post. "SOPA may not have passed, but what happened shows that it is already being practiced. All they have to do is to ask Godaddy to take a site down."

Tank said that his company did not receive any confirmation from GoDaddy or the Secret Service regarding the suspension. He also noted that his company moved its other domains to NameCheap and Hover.

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22 Comments

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The Secret Service has had the ability to do just about whatever they want, whenever they want as long as it pertains to their function. Just like the Treasury dept./IRS can do whatever it wants whenever it wants in regards to enforcing taxes.

I've been moving my domains to NameCheap since SOPA was backed by GoDaddy. Nobody should be doing business with GoDaddy. They're anathema to free internet.

Simple math: more gov = more bureaucrats. A bureaucrat's main goal is to survive, and for the many wishing to gain more power, that means using what they feel is their authority as frequently as possible, to the maximum extent possible -- the more power you have & use, the harder it is to get rid of you.

Now I've no doubt that there are heroes in the US Secret Service, but it's a gov agency & so there are bureaucrats. If "the agent in charge of the operation was less than helpful" that could have been that agent's nature, but as likely [if not more-so] IMO it was surliness brought on as dreams of another gold star in their record went *Poof*.

Why the Secret Service? No way to know for sure, but gov agencies behave the same as the individuals that make up those agencies -- you get more power by being noticed, by accumulating those gold stars, & that generally means you're less of a target when budgets get cut.

Unfortunately there's a new effort in the US Senate to introduce net security legislation yet again -- while the kill switch has been left off, it would create a new agency/bureaucracy for policing. SO far it's been reported that influential members of the House & Senate are saying no, but IMO all that means is that there's hope -- still keep your eyes out for something getting tacked onto some *Must Pass* bill, e.g. something funding parts of the gov so it doesn't shut down.

Can someone explain to me why this is done by the "secret service"? Aren't those the guys that protect your presidents?

dpro said,
Can someone explain to me why this is done by the "secret service"? Aren't those the guys that protect your presidents?

Just read the above comment by roadwarrior.. Seems like they protect the president and financial stuff... The most important US assets, lol.

if it was SOPA related, it would have been taken down by the FBI, and have the giant "FBI ANTI PIRACY WARNING" page. the site is totally down. probably related to counterfeiting or a threat on the president.

How is this not about SOPA? They shut down the entire business without warning, without warrant, nothing, just shut it down. If there was something on the site they didn't like, I am sure they could have contacted it and the offending material would have been removed voluntarily. Imagine if SOPA was in force? The site may not have gone back up.

JotForm was used a lot in scamming attacks against users on my servers.

I wrote to them and asked them to kill the forms and they were always helpful and polite, asking me to post haste any new phishing/scams I spotted to them.

I love what they do and I'm sorry to see them targeted like this :\

Why am I not surprised GoDaddy didn't put up a fight.

Shutting down an entire website because of what one user posts is just plain wrong.

Absolutely disgusting. Completely ashamed to live in the US when these things happen.

There better damn well be a good reason.

Xenosion said,
Absolutely disgusting. Completely ashamed to live in the US when these things happen.

There better damn well be a good reason.

Does "National security" rings a bell? It is an old. overstretched and constantly abused term to justify whatever the system wants to do................
Btw no matter where you look: the naming could change but the substance is the same, in several cases is even worse, allover the World............
The "Republic" envisioned by Plato....... does not exist.

Okay, what did the forms have to say or indicate. The Secret Service is the primary protection service for the President and other Federal employees. It something comes to them which could mean a move on the President then they will take action. And, no this as nothing to do with SOPA.

Pam14160 said,
Okay, what did the forms have to say or indicate. The Secret Service is the primary protection service for the President and other Federal employees. It something comes to them which could mean a move on the President then they will take action. And, no this as nothing to do with SOPA.

The Secret Service also investigates counterfeiting. In fact, that was its original function. Perhaps the forms had something to do with that?

Pam14160 said,
And, no this as nothing to do with SOPA.

What they did was exactly what SOPA proposes to make legal but apparently the SS already has this authority. Is someone just using the SS to get around the inconvenience of our rights?

Any way you slice it this is flat out disturbing. What happened to the times when law enforcement would contact a web administrator to get the information they need? Since when has it become okay for law enforcement to shut down an entire business for what one user did.

This is plain wrong and disturbing.

Edited by Bryan R., Feb 17 2012, 3:52am :

roadwarrior said,

The Secret Service also investigates counterfeiting. In fact, that was its original function. Perhaps the forms had something to do with that?

Yes, this I know, and yes you are right it could have been related to that side of their job description.

Xenosion said,

What they did was exactly what SOPA proposes to make legal but apparently the SS already has this authority. Is someone just using the SS to get around the inconvenience of our rights?
It still has nothing to do with SOPA. You're just attempting to put a face where non belongs. Chill.

Any way you slice it this is flat out disturbing. What happened to the times when law enforcement would contact a web administrator to get the information they need? Since when has it become okay for law enforcement to shut down an entire business for what one user did.

This is plain wrong and disturbing.


This has nothing to do with SOPA. All you are attempting to do is put a face on what you think is wrong. So, here is a question; "What is it they The Secret Services has done that would indicate this is because of SOPA?"

Pam14160 said,

This has nothing to do with SOPA. All you are attempting to do is put a face on what you think is wrong. So, here is a question; "What is it they The Secret Services has done that would indicate this is because of SOPA?"

You can't ignore the politics going on around you. The process by which they took this site down echos of SOPA. SOPA is being pushed by some of the biggest buyers of power. This may be coincidence, but it may not. Asking the questions is what makes the politicians accountable.

No one should have the authority to bypass a business owner and shut down their source of income for the actions of a user. Warrants and rights are becoming a thing of the past with no one asking "why".

I do say no one, however, I do understand that presidential protections are of utmost importance. I just don't have confidence that the SS isn't doing someone else's dirty work. More details are needed.

Edited by Bryan R., Feb 17 2012, 4:55am :

Pam14160 said,

This has nothing to do with SOPA. All you are attempting to do is put a face on what you think is wrong. So, here is a question; "What is it they The Secret Services has done that would indicate this is because of SOPA?"

Why do you refuse to understand the facts?
This: Warrant-less seizing of the site's domain "because of" the actions of site users.
SOPA: Warrant-less seizing of the site's domain "because of" the actions of site users.