If you can't beat them, steal their domain

— 5:04 AM on February 27, 2003

The government has a new weapon in the war against drugs and piracy: they're taking over domain names. C|Net reports:

Attorney General John Ashcroft said Monday that the domain names for several Web sites allegedly set up to sell illegal "drug paraphernalia" would be pointed at servers located at the Drug Enforcement Administration. A federal judge in Pittsburgh granted the U.S. Department of Justice permission to do so until a trial can take place, the government said.

Wednesday afternoon, the DOJ said it had taken over the iSoNews.com domain, whose owner pleaded guilty to felony copyright crimes under the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). David Rocci, 22, pleaded guilty in December to using his site to sell "mod" chips that let Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation owners modify their devices so they can use them to play illegally copied games, or "warez."

I have little sympathy for iSoNews, since the domain's owner admitted using the site to sell illegal mod chips, but foxing domains that were allegedly used to sell drug paraphernalia seems a little much. Kids have been making bongs out of just about everything since the sixties; is redirecting a few domains really going to do anything?

Perhaps the government thinks this will be a more effective way to get through to today's hip, net-savvy youth than deluging the airwaves with Nancy Reagan reruns.

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