Homeland Security wrongfully seizes domain names on child porn grounds

In a recent round of domain name seizures, the Justice and Homeland Security Departments shut down 84,000 websites that hadn't broken the law, falsely accusing them of child pornography crimes, according to TorrentFreak

The websites were replaced with a banner that read: "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."

After the error was identified, it took about three days for some of the websites to go live again, rather than redirecting to this banner, according to the report. 

Homeland Security's ICE unit had a warrant to seize the websites, but reportedly took down many that had not broken the law.

The domain provider, FreeDNS, was taken by surprise: "Freedns.afraid.org has never allowed this type of abuse of its DNS service. We are working to get the issue sorted as quickly as possible," the owner said.

It's unclear how the error occurred, according to the report. DHS did not mention the problem in a release about the seizures.

The "Operation in our Sites" campaign aims to shut down rogue websites, such as those selling counterfeit goods, making copyright violations, or posting child pornography.