September 5, 2011 | Digital Rights

Nominet, the domain registrar that handles .uk domains for the United Kingdom has proposed to allow police to shut down websites by mere request.

The policy would cover cases in which a site is involved in crimes covered under the Serious Crimes Act 2007, including fraud, prostitution, money laundering, blackmail and copyright infringement.


Suspension of a domain will not require a court order but should be limited to circumstances where necessary “to prevent serious and immediate consumer harm”, according to Nominet.

“Immediate consumer harm”? What could be so immediate that you can’t get a court order? If needed you can wake a judge up at 12 o’clock at night. This just stinks.

It’s more in a line of reasoning by law enforcement agencies, including the US Justice Department, which has been summarily shutting down websites for copyright infringement, that they can shut down a website by mere allegation.

What this misses is the the element determination of actual fault by the judiciary. What happened to due process? Compulsory process for summoning witnesses? The right to confront your accusers?

Finally, with what face is the UK going to tell China not to censor its version of the World Wide Web?

Is this necessary to protect the consumer, or just another power grab that has become altogether too familiar?


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