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USA Feds Accidentally Seize 84,000 Domains

Published February 19, 2011

In its continuing crackdown on sites offering counterfeit or otherwise illegal goods and services,  the US government carried out another major raid recently - and mistakenly swept up tens of thousands of non-targeted domain names as well.

According to TechSpot, the USA's Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement branch (ICE), in conjunction with the Department of Justice, recently seized several domains under "Operation Save Our Children", but among them were a managed DNS provider's domain that was not meant to be part of the operation.

DNS (Domain Name System) providers help ensure maximum DNS resolution, which helps to improve the availability of web sites and connected systems or simplify how systems can be accessed. 

ICE's mistaken seizure of a domain operated by the provider reportedly affected 84,000 web sites - mainly subdomains belonging to individuals and small businesses.

In addition to the sites being unavailable, anyone visiting those sites during the time of the incident was presented with a stern government warning and message about the reason for the seizure of the domains.

While the mistake occurred on Friday February 11, it seems it was Sunday February 13 before it was corrected. Additionally, given the time it can take for updated DNS entries to propagate throughout the Internet, TechSpot says it may have taken up to an additional three days for all sites to be restored and the government warning message no longer visible.

Some who have commented on the incident have noted that not only would the downtime have caused major inconvenience and loss of profits for a percentage of the domain registrants/owners involved, but the nature of the warning message may result in some of the persons who viewed it to perhaps not visit those sites again.

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