Feds shut 84,000 websites — by mistake

Uncle Sam is pushing for vast control over the Internet – claiming such power is essential to protect the country from cyber threats. Dire warnings of dangers to our nation’s “cyber security” by the former administration of President George W. Bush have been echoed by President Obama. “Cyber hawks” in the Congress, including Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME), who see terrorist threats behind every computer, are pushing legislation that would empower the president to declare a “cyber emergency” under only vaguely defined circumstances, and seize control over vast sectors of the Internet.

Aside from the interesting parallel posed by such cyber-control efforts, to regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere that attempt to employ control over the Internet to squelch political dissent – a practice Washington roundly and properly criticizes – the government’s track record in using its existing law enforcement powers to shut down Internet domains suspected of violating federal criminal laws, hardly inspires confidence.

Recently, for example, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), proclaimed proudly they had shut down several web domains suspected of engaging in copyright infringement and transmitting child pornography. Unfortunately, some 84,000 websites engaged in no unlawful activities whatsoever were silenced mistakenly during the federal cyber sweeps.

The private website TorrentFreak, which has publicized this latest government cyber error, noted that, “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 . . . the authorities were clearly proud of themselves for taking down 10 domain names.”

No government – no matter how benign or well-meaning — should be empowered to control the Internet. Moreover, the Congress should take a long, hard look at how federal agencies are using — and abusing – their existing powers to control parts of the Internet.

By Bob Barr — The Barr Code

47 comments Add your comment

DeborahinAthens

February 18th, 2011
7:00 am

You are right on, Mr. Barr, but you are naive to think that the government doesn’t already control our access to media. Right after the Iraq war started, I wanted to find out what the civilian death toll was in Baghdad. For a very brief period, I could get photos, etc. of what was going on. Then I had to turn to the BBC and Al-Jazerra websites. Then, suddenly, when I tried to pull up the same photos of the massive destruction, I would get notes saying the site was unavailable. The Bush administration would not take the responsibility of the tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children they killed for no reason. The same thing happened when Bush unilaterally imposed a 30% tariff on wood and steel–a VERY big deal in the business world. After a few weeks, the only reference one could find was in the foreign news. I think one of the most dangerous things about our country right now is that we assume we have freedoms which have been and are being stripped away at a breathtaking rate. And it seems that there is very little concern about the fact. Don’t give up beating the drums–some day the lazy populace might wake up.

Thou shall not encroach

February 18th, 2011
7:38 am

“Aside from the interesting parallel posed by such cyber-control efforts, to regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere that attempt to employ control over the Internet to squelch political dissent – a practice Washington roundly and properly criticizes – the government’s track record in using its existing law enforcement powers to shut down Internet domains suspected of violating federal criminal laws, hardly inspires confidence.”

Maybe the worst sentence ever.

Look Bob, for security purposes, we need to keep abreast of domestic and foreign interests on the internet, you know. The government should have full access to all websites. Al Queda websites. Websites from China and India.

Know what?

Maybe it’s time the government took another hard look at selling firewalls to the Indians.

Thank you. I know. I know. Don’t. Just enjoy.

Peace out.

Pot Smoker

February 18th, 2011
8:04 am

DeborahinAthens is correct.

Thinking that the government does not already have control of the internet is almost as naive as thinking that the government obeys our constitution. The control and obeying is at their convenence.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bob Barr, Rob Doar. Rob Doar said: RT @bobbarr: Barr Code: Feds shut 84,000 websites — by mistake http://bit.ly/gDN31B [...]

Red State Redemption

February 18th, 2011
8:28 am

Yeah what else is new. The Fascistocrats want to control the media too (not that most of it is liberal-leaning). It’s just a step. You watch. Who’s to say the Fed won’t define “National Emergency” as websites (Conservative) speaking out against the Obama administration? Things…like this that we won’t see on the front page of the New York Times or on CNN:

“The federal government has borrowed an additional $29,660 per household in the United States since President Barack Obama signed his economic stimulus law two years ago. That brings the total national debt to $125,475.18 per household.”

Meanwhile…

“PRINCETON, NJ — Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, hit 10.0% in mid-February — up from 9.8% at the end of January.”

Aren’t you glad that “stimulus” bill that was rammed through congress two years ago that nobody read has kept unemployment from going above 8%?

Meanwhile while our economy collapses at home and the Middle East is about to implode sending oil prices and global food/goods costs through the roof, can we get some adults and competents in the Senate and White House in 2012 to match the forward progress made in the House in 2010? That would be great.

Elmer Dinkley

February 18th, 2011
9:04 am

Red State…why do you guys always forget that the bail outs started under Bush’s presidency…that the policies that got us in this mess were already in place before Obama took over. This country was in decline before Obama took over. I am not Pro-Obama or Anti-Bush but there is equal blame to spead around so STFU with your ignorant republican arguments. Furthermore what does your post have to do with the topic at hand.

Elmer Dinkley

February 18th, 2011
9:07 am

And another thing you complain about dems controlling your media but I guess you have no problem with the repubs voting to extend the Patriot Act while a mojority of dems opposed. Hypocrit

Elmer Dinkley

February 18th, 2011
9:09 am

yes i see my typo “majority”

LA

February 18th, 2011
9:43 am

“No government – no matter how benign or well-meaning — should be empowered to control the Internet.

Just goes to show that whatever the government touches, it screws it up big time.

LA

February 18th, 2011
9:44 am

“And another thing you complain about dems controlling your media but I guess you have no problem with the repubs voting to extend the Patriot Act while a mojority of dems opposed. ‘

Shall I post a list of every Democrat who signed on to the original PA?

Shall I also post a list of every Democrat, including Hillary and Biden, who signed on to the war in Iraq?

Left wingers aren’t the brightest people.

LA

February 18th, 2011
9:46 am

“The Bush administration would not take the responsibility of the tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children they killed for no reason.”

Oh, so those Al Queada terrorists didn’t kill those soldiers/civilians? Oh that’s right, everything is Bush’s fault.

“The same thing happened when Bush unilaterally imposed a 30% tariff on wood and steel’

LOLOL

LA

February 18th, 2011
9:49 am

“why do you guys always forget that the bail outs started under Bush’s presidency”

That is correct and W was wrong on that. He should have let GM and the banks go bankrupt.

“that the policies that got us in this mess were already in place before Obama took over.’

Yep, they started with Clinton.

“so STFU with your ignorant republican arguments.’

Gotta love the lunatic fringe of the left. First, they come in, say a few things and act semi-nice and then BAM, they go and tell someone to STFU and call them ignorant.

Is it any wonder that the left has lost all credibility.

the watchful eye

February 18th, 2011
10:13 am

A senate bill would offer President Obama emergency control of the internet and give him a “kill switch” to shut down online traffic by seizing private networks, a move security experts worry will choke off individual and civil liberties. It gives the President amorphous power over the privacy of the individual. The government does not have the expertise to control the internet. Without the expertise, the whole internet will be on life support.

Once again, it all comes down to transparency in government, what does government know? If they are planning to intrude on the individual rights, at least let us know what the reason and purpose is.

4th Amendment rights belong in the first tier of rights of the individual. No rights are more important.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 18th, 2011
10:46 am

Dear LA @ 11:49, funny post. Definition of Leftist comity: “‘Shut up,” he explained.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 18th, 2011
10:48 am

Apologies, forgot my netiquette, specifically the obligation to post a note on the subject at hand before flying into irrelevancies. Good essay, Mr. Barr, I agree.

[...] Continue reading here: Feds shut 84000 websites — by mistake – Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Libby

February 18th, 2011
12:05 pm

Well, Debbie in Athens – insulting your fellow Americans will hardly inspire them to —- what – you want revolution in the streets? They are brainwashed by the media – like the AJC! We aren’t lazy – it’s just that the 48% of us who actually work are busy carrying the load for the freeloaders.

elmer dinkley

February 18th, 2011
12:24 pm

LA you amuse me…I am not even left leaning much less the lunatic fringe of it. I argue because the problems facing our country are not about Dem or Repub…the hypocrisy of both sides is silly but the right takes it to a whole other level with the accusations and convenient memory loss. My argument was on one topic of someone blaming dems for media control while blissfully unaware of his beloved republicans extending warrantless wire tapping rights to the govt. How does that equate to less govt which the republicans scream so loud about?

Carlosgvv

February 18th, 2011
12:37 pm

LA – Whatever the government touches, it screws it up big time.

So true, and I think that they are much further along with internet interference than we know. Big Brother really is watching us.

Patriot

February 18th, 2011
12:40 pm

If both democrats and republicans would finally wake up and realize that government is EVIL, pure and simple, and work together to end it or reduce it to such a non-entity that nobody cared who got elected, this country could be free again. All I ever see in these blog posts is the standard back and forth of what Obama did versus what Bush did. Can we agree that there has never been a great president (except maybe Zachary Taylor who had the decency to die a few weeks after taking office). Nothing has ever gotten better regardless of what party got elected. They are both in a conspiracy to grow government and destroy freedom. The only real difference is in what grows and what gets destroyed.

As for the internet, here is a guy who is trying to do something about the problem. Why don’t you go to his site, check out what they are up to, and help. http://www.freedomboxfoundation.org/

The political process is never going to change anything. They hold elections to keep us all deluded into thinking that our vote counts and that the next guy will be better. The only ones who get elected are already part of the problem. They only got as far as they did because those who really control the process allowed it. We must withdraw our support. That is the only way the government exists. “By the consent of the governed…”

LA

February 18th, 2011
12:42 pm

Ragnar Danneskjöld

Good to see you again! How’s it going over in Bookman’s cess pool?

LA

February 18th, 2011
12:46 pm

“LA you amuse me…I am not even left leaning much less the lunatic fringe of it. ‘

Yeah, hmmmmm, you are. Coming in and telling other bloggers to STFU and then calling them ignorant makes you part of the lunatic fringe.

“My argument was on one topic of someone blaming dems for media control while blissfully unaware of his beloved republicans extending warrantless wire tapping rights to the govt.’

So you are on the side of Islamic terrorism? I haven’t read one single story where some common American was spied on by Big Brother. If you are not a terrorist, you have nothing to worry about.

“How does that equate to less govt which the republicans scream so loud about?’

Guess you missed 9-11. What’s funny is you try to come across as a “moderate” yet you b!tch and whine about the GOP.

Hey, guess what, the Democrats extended Bush policies. The two wars, the tax cuts and the Patriot Act. Oh, and GITMO is still opened.

LA

February 18th, 2011
12:48 pm

“If both democrats and republicans would finally wake up and realize that government is EVIL, pure and simple, and work together to end it or reduce it to such a non-entity that nobody cared who got elected, this country could be free again.”

Democrats want big government. Heck, the biggest cheerleader for big government is sitting in the White House right now.

“Can we agree that there has never been a great president ‘

Nope. I can name several great presidents.

elmer dinkley

February 18th, 2011
12:48 pm

Patriot…an American that gets it. As Bill Hicks once said…the same person is controlling the puppet on the left hand and the right hand. Keep eating up your Fox and Msnbc talking points and continue to watch things get worse.

elmer dinkley

February 18th, 2011
12:53 pm

LA you are nothing but a troll…I spent 13 months in Balad Iraq and 2 years at the Korean DMZ…I assure you I love my country…you don’t even deserve a reply by I guarantee neither party fits my needs. Your responses prove you are the far right version of what you accuse me of.

LA

February 18th, 2011
12:56 pm

“LA you are nothing but a troll’

Ah, here we go with the name calling again. Please, continue to pretend to be moderate, ma’am.

“I spent 13 months in Balad Iraq and 2 years at the Korean DMZ”

That’s the great thing about the web, you can make up anything you want.

“Your responses prove you are the far right version of what you accuse me of.

LOL! Except I haven’t called you a troll, ignorant nor have I told you to STFU.

Keep on talking, elmer.

StJ

February 18th, 2011
1:44 pm

“Unfortunately, some 84,000 websites engaged in no unlawful activities whatsoever were silenced mistakenly during the federal cyber sweeps.” Mistakenly? It would be interesting to see what websites were cut off “mistakenly” and what content those sites had and what demographic they catered to. I’d bet real money we’d see a pattern that had nothing to do with terrorism.

Yeah, and now they have their hands on healthcare, unless the SC does something about it. Wonder what will happen when they deny life-saving benefits to 84,000 people “by mistake” (using the term real loosely here).

JF McNamara

February 18th, 2011
1:53 pm

This, from a person who voted for the Patriot act….Letting bygones be bygones since you’ve obviously reformed, the government shouldn’t have free reign to shut down web sites. One would think they would need to acquire a warrent, No?

Ironically, the biggest complainer is a site called TorrentFreak whose primary mission is the distribution of copyrighted material illegally. Having a thief’s web site shut down doesn’t really make me want to shed a tear, but freedom is freedom.

[...] Feds shut 84000 websites — by mistakeAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Unfortunately, some 84000 websites engaged in no unlawful activities whatsoever were silenced mistakenly during the federal cyber sweeps. The private website TorrentFreak, which has publicized this latest government cyber error, noted that, …84000 websites wrongly culled for child pornographyThe Tech HeraldFeds Accidentally Shutter 84000 Innocent DomainsIT Business Edge (blog)Unprecedented domain seizure shutters 84000 sitesRegisterDigitaltrends.com -Toronto Sun -DailyTechall 57 news articles » [...]

[...] Feds shut 84,000 websites — by mistake | The Barr Code. This entry was posted in Internet, Opinion, Politics, Technology, US Government, United States and tagged child pornography, control efforts, copyright infringement, cyber control, cyber threats, Department of Homeland Security, immigration and customs enforcement, Joe Lieberman, political dissent, president george w bush. Bookmark the permalink. ← The Weathermen, Underground – BusinessWeek [...]

Tyler Durden

February 18th, 2011
3:26 pm

Wow. Whenever I feel depressed, I can always check out the drivel from Ragnar, LA and anyone else who desperately needs a life, and suddenly, I feel better about everything.

Why? Because no matter how bad anything in my life gets, it will still be infinitely better than those poor schleps.

Happy posting guys!!!!!

LA

February 18th, 2011
3:37 pm

“Why? Because no matter how bad anything in my life gets, it will still be infinitely better than those poor schleps.’

And yet, you’re here. Posting. Stupid much?

Colonel Kurtz

February 18th, 2011
4:54 pm

Deborah is right Libby. Murder is not insulting, its just murder. Hypocrisy isn’t patriotism, its nationalism. I am way into the 48% of the workforce and the government does not exist to protect your personal freedoms. Never has and never will REGARDLESS of who is in office.

killerj

February 18th, 2011
5:17 pm

Go Frostwire for those who do not know.

LA

February 18th, 2011
6:46 pm

Hey left wing marxists,

Remember when you all were screaming about the pics of Obama as Hitler?

This should shut you all up and if anything happens to the governor of Wisconsin, the blood will be on your hands.

Wis. GOP Leader: ‘There is fear for Scott Walker’s safety’

http://www.nationalreview.com/developing

Chris B.

February 18th, 2011
9:39 pm

Government no doubt should relieve themselves of overstepping their constitutional boundaries by controlling the internet. In many cases one could argue that many websites are a form of speech and therefore, you’re infringing a persons’ rights. Also, anything that the government has ever done has never rendered positive results (see Medicare, Medicaid, and SSI) and you could probably bet that the government would manage to expose our cyber security and really screw us over, blaming in on terrorists. Secondly, it was mentioned earlier by “Elmer” that stimulus plans were in place during the Bush administration, and while this is true, it wouldn’t have happened if the housing market didn’t get flushed down the toilet. This was a band-aid over an issue that President Clinton thought he needed to enact. He signed the Fair Housing Act requiring banks and other lending institutions to reduce their criteria for the qualification of a mortgage. You allow people to purchase homes well beyond their financial capabilities? This act created a loophole that allowed institutions to finance sub-prime mortgages, stealing from the average citizen, and thus, created the worst economic depression since 1929. Argue against this all you want, but the Democrats have consistently spent and spent and spent with no consideration for the financial turmoil they will provide for future generations. BO has no concept about business and continues to prove this with his “fast-paced, rail” projects.

Chris B.

February 18th, 2011
9:57 pm

Moreover, I have no problem with the feds tapping phones in this country because I’ve got nothing to worry about. If you do have a problem with it, I really could care less because those taps are giving you one more day to live.

I read above that a potential bill would provide the president a “kill switch” that would shut down internet traffic. Umm…you can’t do that. Not in the mere sense that it’s just a clear violation of any law or the constitution for that matter, but federal agencies across the country and the world rely on the internet to move information. Pull that crap like they did in Egypt, riots there will look like a slumber party compared to what could happen here. People won’t tolerate the government extending their “big brother” reach and it could be a decision that you’ll wish you could take back.

[...] took them offline. Former congressman Bob Barr, now an NRA board member and newspaper columnist, wrote that the mistake shows that “no government — no matter how benign or well-meaning [...]

[...] took them offline. Former congressman Bob Barr, now an NRA board member and newspaper columnist, wrote that the mistake shows that “no government — no matter how benign or well-meaning [...]

[...] took them offline. Former congressman Bob Barr, now an NRA board member and newspaper columnist, wrote that the mistake shows that “no government–no matter how benign or [...]

[...] took them offline. Former congressman Bob Barr, now an NRA board member and newspaper columnist, wrote that the mistake shows that “no government–no matter how benign or [...]

[...] took them offline. Former congressman Bob Barr, now an NRA board member and newspaper columnist, wrote that the mistake shows that “no government–no matter how benign or [...]

[...] took them offline. Former congressman Bob Barr, now an NRA board member and newspaper columnist, wrote that the mistake shows that “no government–no matter how benign or [...]

[...] took them offline. Former congressman Bob Barr, now an NRA board member and newspaper columnist, wrote that the mistake shows that “no government–no matter how benign or [...]

| Gurubootcamp: Gadget (YouTube Video)

February 20th, 2011
3:53 am

[...] took them offline. Former congressman Bob Barr, now an NRA board member and newspaper columnist, wrote that the mistake shows that “no government–no matter how benign or [...]

| Gurubootcamp: Gadget (YouTube Video)

February 20th, 2011
7:21 am

[...] and took them offline. Former congressman Bob Barr, now an NRA house member and journal columnist, wrote that a mistake shows that “no government–no matter how soft or [...]

The watching eye

February 20th, 2011
7:44 am

I had a problem with the internet this morning, I could not get online. Immediately, I said, Obama has thrown the “kill switch”. First i check with the cable company, road runner was working. Then, I fiddled with the computer, and finally I checked the connections and the plug to the monitor had loosened.
The problem with the Obama administration is that the populance does not trust it. I think it is jealousy, as the Diva would say. We are jealous that we have fallen out of preference with government, that other countries are getting more than we are. While millions in this country are starving, the third world countries are getting the food. I think that just about everyone figures if they can put what they want online, that it is democracy. The fact of the matter is, if internet users started getting a following their would be considerable scrutiny from goverrment.