The Tech Herald

84,000 websites wrongly culled for child pornography

by Steven Mostyn - Feb 18 2011, 14:10

Ooops. Image: Fingers SFV/Flickr.

Authorities in the United States have been left wiping egg of their collective faces after news broke that an eagerness to clean the Internet resulted in the accidental dumping of 84,000 innocent websites on a FreeDNS server.

The trigger-happy decision was made by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Cyber Crime Center, which this week yanked a host of domains in its battle against online child pornography.

While the Cyber Crime Center’s motives were certainly pure, its seemingly blind dredging tactics against suspect domains forced mooo.com and its 84,000 sites offline for almost three days, leaving only the following (potentially damaging) placeholder notice in its place:

This domain name has been seized by ICE – Homeland Security Investigations pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court under the authority of Title 18 U.S.C. 2254.

Advertisement, distribution, transportation, receipt, and possession of child pornography constitute federal crimes that carry penalties for first time offenders of up to 30 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution.

According to a report on torrentfreak.com, the majority of websites affected by the temporary loss of mooo.com were personal sites and those operated by small businesses. It also revealed that a Bing search still labels the innocent sites as guilty of peddling child porn.

It’s worth noting that we here at The Tech Herald have yet to find an official apology—to either mooo.com or the 84,000 disgruntled website owners—from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with regard to its blundering snafu.

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