American authorities seized dozens of news website domain names including Iran state television’s English-language arm Press TV, Yemeni Houthi-run Al-Masirah satellite news channel and Iranian state TV’s Arabic-language channel, Al-Alam claiming they were spreading disinformation. When you visit those domains, you see a takedown notice from U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Commerce.
The U.S. government also took over the domain name of the news website Palestine Today, which reflects the viewpoints of Gaza-based Islamic militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, redirecting the site to the same takedown notice.
I don’t support any of those groups and propagandas, my problem is something else, it’s the power U.S. has over internet, which meant to be for people and decentralized.
U.S. government has power over many internet top level domains. Most of the domains seized appeared to be “.net,” “.com” and “.tv” domains. The first two are generic top-level domains as opposed to country-specific domains, while “.tv” is owned by the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu but administered by the U.S. company Verisign.
Seizing a domain on a major country-specific top-level domain such as Iran’s “.ir” would be apt to produce widespread international condemnation as a violation of sovereignty.
Verisign is also the authoritative registry for the .com, .net, and .name generic top-level domains and the .cc country-code top-level domains.
Verising is an American company, meaning it obeys American laws and court orders, no matter where the client (one who bought the domain) is from or based. It also means U.S. government doesn’t go to the registrar for a takedown, it goes straight to the authority.
When U.S. government wants to take down, for example, example.com, if example.com is registered with a registrar in France, like Gandi, U.S. government should get an order from a French court which is unlikely, but since the authoritative registry of .com, which is example.com’s tld (top level domain), is Verisign, an American company, U.S. government bypasses the French registrar and straightly goes to Verisign and Verisign obeys the order.
This is dangerous. Internet should be for people with no authority. While I don’t support any of those seized websites or their propaganda, I do support an internet where nobody, no government, no person, and no ideology controls it. If U.S. can seize Press TV’s domain because it spreads propaganda against it, can it also seize my domain because I criticize their actions?
Majority of websites are using .com domains, this means U.S. has power on majority of web, at least its names. U.S. claims to be a champion of freedom, free speech within it. However, it acts very differently. Silencing voices and taking down internet websites claiming they spread disinformation is not respecting freedom.
Internet and web should be not controlled.