Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky and his outsourced lawyers have clearly provoked major concerns amid civil liberty and Internet freedom organisations with their attempt to hijack 141 Internet domain names belonging to international online gambling companies (see previous InfoPowa reports). Beshear is currently in the process of an appeal-against-an appeal after losing his case in the Kentucky Court of Appeals and taking the issue to the Kentucky Supreme Court.
According to the publication Web Host Industry Review, a number of additional organisations have registered an interest as friends of the court, joining with groups that have already notified concerns regarding the governor's actions such as the Internet Commerce Association, the Media Access Project and the United States Internet Industry Association.
The Supreme Court brief submitted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky supports the ruling of the Kentucky Court of Appeals against the Commonwealth's actions, pointing out that the state's case is fatally flawed and violates the First Amendment, the Commerce Clause, and the Due Process Clause of the US Constitution.
Matt Zimmerman, legal representative of the EFF said in a statement: "No state can order a domain name registrar over which it does not have jurisdiction to do anything. The commonwealth simply hasn't satisfied its burden here. Without these important protections, no website would be safe from arbitrary decisions by foreign courts to silence online content that they don't like."
John Morris, representing the Center for Democracy, said the attempt by the state of Kentucky to seize global domains owned outside the state constituted a dangerous precedent that could allow governments outside of the United States to take similar actions against websites whose content displeased them. "Such a theory, if upheld, would be devastating to free expression around the world," Morris added.
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