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Extra Domain Name Circumvents Secret Service Suspension

February 18, 2012

A U.S. company whose site's domain name was temporarily disabled under odd circumstances on direction from the U.S. Secret Service was able to continue functioning through the use of another domain name it had registered.

On February 15, Aytekin Tank - cofounder of Interlogy Internet Technologies, the creator of the JotForm web form builder, posted that a US government agency had suspended the domain name

With many thousands using the service and over 2 million forms hosted by the company, this could have been a disaster of huge proportions. However, as JotForm had another domain name registration active,; Mr. Tank was able to instruct JotForm's clients to make a simple change in order that their forms continued working.

During the incident, a frustrated Mr. Tank posted: "This can happen to any site that allows public to post content. SOPA may not have passed, but what happened shows that it is already being practiced."

SOPA is the proposed and controversial U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act; legislation that was the trigger for the English-language Wikipedia to be thrown into "blackout" mode for 24 hours recently as a protest against SOPA.

The next day, Mr. Tank reported the domain name had stopped pointing to his registrar's suspension name service and was active again - over 24 hours after the incident began.

"I wish we could provide more details about what happened, but we are also in the dark," posted Mr. Tank. The only information provided was the domain name was suspended "as part of an ongoing law enforcement investigation".

Domain names being blocked or suspended by the U.S. Government by mistake has precedent and the mysterious circumstances of this particular incident aside, one of the important take-aways from this situation perhaps is it could be a wise move by web site owners to have a secondary domain registered and pointing to their site. This can act as an alternate URL in the event a technical, law enforcement or any of a number of possible issues preventing the primary domain from operating. In such an event, regular users and customers can be informed of the alternate URL.

While registering an extra domain name will be of little use if access to the actual content has been blocked or is inaccessible for whatever reason, this strategy could provide a degree of protection in other circumstances.

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