Warning on US Domain Actions Arrives from Canadian Domain Hosting Exec

US authorities ready to act outside their national boundaries, claims Jeftovic

After the news of the seizure of the Bodog domain by US federal Homeland Security officials and the charges raised against its founder, Calvin Ayre, caused quite a stir in the industry, an analysis of the situation came from an expert – a a Canadian domain hosting chief, Mark Jeftovic, who warned on the tendency of US officials to act outside of their country's boundaries.

The founder and CEO of EasyDNS Technologies Inc., a Toronto firm that provides domain hosting and registry services, Jeftovic opined that the Ayre affair proves the U government’s readiness to exercise its legal authority over Internet properties outside American boundaries – even those based in Canada.

It has been underlined by Jeftovic that this case actually poses the question of Internet autonomy, as the US authorities managed to seize Bodog’s .com domain even though it was owned by a Canadian and operated out of various offices overseas.

He stressed: “You could be [based] outside the U.S. and you could be minding your own business and suddenly, some attorney-general in some U.S. state could say I don't like what's happening here and issue a takedown order.”

What this implies is that Canadian-owned Web sites with a .com, .net or .org suffix could be subject to U.S. laws just because the registry for those domains (in the case of .com and .net, Verisign) is based on American soil.

Jeftovic assessed this as “a concern for every non-American who relies on a domain run by a U.S.-based registry operator.”

In case of Bodog, even though its .com website apparently went through a Vancouver company called Domainclip to register its domain, all .com sites in the world are ultimately overseen by Reston, Va.-based Verisign.

On the other hand, Byron Holland, president and CEO of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority in Ottawa, said that “This type of thing has certainly happened before. The primary implication is that people need to be educated about where their digital content is being housed, created or registered.”

He added that American laws also apply to Canadian-owned sites and Web content if the domain is hosted or has its data stored by a company based in the U.S.: “It's not just where the server resides but any of those touch points along the way.” And it works both ways, so if a US site’s domain is registered or hosted in Canada, it will be subject to Canadian laws.

In his opinion, the Bodog domain seizure hit the headlines at this extent mostly because Ayre lives a flashy existence: “Any time you mix sex, money and gambling into it, it will highlight the story,” he concluded.

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