Can you imagine how your life would change if you were accused of pedophilia – or of distributing child pornography?
If this accusation were in a public forum, where your kids, spouse, parents, extended family, friends, colleagues and/or customers, potential employers, community activists and anti-pedophilia organizations would be sure to see it?
If this accusation came from the government, which cited a legal warrant to confiscate your property because a judge has been satisfied that your property was used for the creation and propagation of pedophilia?
AND IF THIS ACCUSATION WERE 100% UNFOUNDED?!?!?
84,000 Americans do not have to imagine this – they are living it!
No kidding, it’s true.
That is EIGHTY FOUR THOUSAND!!!
And, please, ask yourself – why was this not front line news? Why do you have to read about this in a blog?
“The US Government has yet again shuttered several domain names this week. The Department of Justice and Homeland Security’s ICE office proudly announced that they had seized domains related to counterfeit goods and child pornography. What they failed to mention, however, is that one of the targeted domains belongs to a free DNS provider, and that 84,000 websites were wrongfully accused of links to child pornography crimes.
As with previous seizures, ICE convinced a District Court judge to sign a seizure warrant, and then contacted the domain registries to point the domains in question to a server that hosts the warning message. However, somewhere in this process a mistake was made and as a result the domain of a large DNS service provider was seized.
Most of the subdomains in question are personal sites and sites of small businesses. A search on Bing still shows how innocent sites were claimed to promote child pornography. A rather damaging accusation, which scared and upset many of the site’s owners.”
Imagine being involved in a child-custody battle, when your ex’s lawyer gets a hold of this….
Or a million other situations: child abuse, especially sexual child abuse, is a serious issue. Many people react to it instinctively…without thinking…considering this to be one of those areas where vigilante justice is not only OK, but necessary (as the courts have systematically failed to protect the kids).
So, what was the reaction of the government?
After all, they were after 10-12 specific sites: these 84,000 innocent sites were siezed accidentally…
Did they make a huge announcement, explaining their mistake so that the 84,000 would not be stigmatized?
So that they would be believed when they defended themselves?
So they would even be listened to when they tried to explain?
Explain that the official banner everyone who came to their website and saw the official notice “that the website had been siezed because it distributed pedophilia” was one of those 84,000 that were accused by a mistake?
No, not really.
Actually, not at all!
“Although it is not clear where this massive error was made, and who’s responsible for it, the Department of Homeland security is conveniently sweeping it under the rug. In a press release that went out a few hours ago the authorities were clearly proud of themselves for taking down 10 domain names.
However, DHS conveniently failed to mention that 84,000 websites were wrongfully taken down in the process, shaming thousands of people in the process.
“Each year, far too many children fall prey to sexual predators and all too often, these heinous acts are recorded in photos and on video and released on the Internet,” Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano commented.
“DHS is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to shut down websites that promote child pornography to protect these children from further victimization,” she added.”
This is troubling on so many levels, I don’t know where to begin.
Sure, there are conspiracy theories out there – and I, for one, don’t buy into them.
However, once learned, institutions hardly ever forget lessons: and the lesson learned here was that yes, it was possible for the US government to ‘make dissappear’ a whole block of thousands of websites. The first one may have been a mistake, but will the second one be?
We know that in Australia, the leaked, ultra secret ‘black list’ of sites banned due to pedophilia/child pornography included more ‘political’ websites and innocent victims (including a dentist’s site) than actual pedophilia/child pornography sites. And there was no appeal – since the ‘black list’ was uber secret, even knowing the name of a site on it was a criminal offense… How do you defend against abuse in a situation like that? Admitting you know the site was shut down is equivalent to pleading guilty to a child sex crime….even if the site was erroneously listed!
Of course, this is just one facet…
If your site is siezed in this manner, even after it is released, there will be echoes on the internet linking it to pedophilia for ever.
If this is a business website you had built up, slowly but surely building up your livelihood by slowly climbing the way up the search-engine ratings – having had your site siezed in this manner will have pretty much wiped out your rating. Even if you get your site back, even if you are again up and running – business will not be as before! You will likely have to re-build your ratings – the ‘method’ your customers find your site – and this may take years!
It would be comparable to having the government falsely shut down a prominent store on ‘Main St.’, put ‘the person who runs this store is a pedophile’ sign in the front window, and then permit them to re-open the store, perhaps after they re-located it several blocks away from the busy area….
The walk-by traffic will just not be the same!
And that does not even address the ‘civil liberties’ aspect of confiscating someone’s property/livelihood in this manner….
Or the ‘eagerness’ with which some ‘child-sex-offender registries’ keep track not only of people who had been covicted, but also of people who had ever been accused of child sex crimes: after all, we can never be too careful in protecting our babies!
Oh, and this is not the first time this type of thing has happened. Perhaps not on this scale, but…