back to article Nominet asks what you think of police domain grab

Nominet is asking for feedback on proposals from the police which would allow them to "switch off" websites used by criminals. The UK domain registrar is setting up an issues group to look at the change which would bolster police powers quite dramatically – assuming the pesky crims stick to .uk websites of course. The …


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  1. Richard 120

    Only one thing to say

    This might be okay, if the police don't abuse their powers.

    Of course that never happens does it.


  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great idea

    Yes, great idea.

    It's just a shame that the police can't be trusted not to be completely inept and abuse the powers just as much as they abused S44 to harass photographers and other innocent people going about their inoffensive, intrusive, legal business.

    If given these powers, they will go berserk, closing down perfectly fine sites at random, or making systematic cock-ups resulting in the closure of sites with unfortunate URLs such as penisland, whorepresents, expertsexchange, therapistfinder, powergenitalia, molestationnursery, etc, because some clueless 'po-leese hofficer' who doesn't know a right-click from a hard drive completely misunderstood what they were looking at.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Typo

      I meant 'NON-intrusive', obviously. Freudian slip.

      I also forgot to shoehorn in an unnecessary comparison between the police having an itchy trigger finger when it comes to members of the public taking photos, yet behaving like an anaesthetised Jabba the Hut on a very cold day when it comes to dealing with the News of the World genuinely spying illegally by means of hacking people's mobile phones.

    2. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re:Great idea

      Yep, sure, let them do it. As long as they and Nominet don't mind getting their arses sued off when some company loses income because some twat decided to let Insp. Luddite close down a perfectly valid site because someone complained about a comment/product/picture/opinion/article on it. Tw@ts.

    3. RegGuy

      Please, please, please...

      ... let them close down (Oh no, that's not a uk subdomain -- bugger!)

  3. g e

    reasonable grounds

    'Evidence' would be better, this is the UK police after all.

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      Court order would be even better still

      Eh wot?

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        The police shouldn't have any such power...

        ... "evidence" or not. It should go before a judge who could issue something called, say "an injunction" based on any evidence, and representations from other interested parties (such as the website owner). These "injunctions" could be issued temporarily pending representations from the website owner in the event that it seems important to do it quickly.

        Oh, wait, we have those already ... but the police don't always get what they want using the current system. Can't have plod being thwarted, can we?

  4. Gert Selkobi


    "Nominet is asking for feedback on proposals from the police which would allow them to "switch off" websites used by criminals."

    Will they shut down eBay then?

    How about The News of the World? The entire fleet of web sites?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Nominet is asking for feedback

    I wouldn't trust the inept plod to switch off a dildo let alone a site.

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      If a plod cannot shut off a dildo...

      he/she should be sent to Alabama for training, because (as we saw in another El Reg story) dildoes are available in Alabama only for "medical or educational purposes"


  6. Chris Cartledge
    Big Brother

    Internet is the now the real world

    So real world protections are needed and one would expect to see the courts and judges involved. Closing a web site wrongly might have far more serious implications than for example a search (Anton Pillar) order or an injunction against libel.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who decides what is reasonable.

    If the cops decide what is reasonable, you'll have problems, if its a Judge whow must issue court order, it might be ok.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh please.....

      You think judges have much of an idea about websites and the internet.

  8. Cunningly Linguistic

    Two words...

    ...Judicial Oversight.

    Never let the filth do anything without a judge saying they can do it.

  9. Efros

    Should be a legal process

    A judge should be involved in the same way as granting of search warrants, also police should be liable for losses caused to legitimate businesses that they will inevitably screw up. "Sorry guv we fort it was .net not .org, whoops!"

  10. Anonymous Coward

    It's a joke

    .uk domains cost money and you can get a million and one domains for free and out of the reach of the UK police...I wonder which one the crims use?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not really

      They don't, unless they want to be found, for a scam.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I thought internet stuff was too complicated for the police and the CPS

  12. Steen Hive
    Thumb Down

    No way.

    "The proposals would allow police to ask Nominet to remove sites from the .uk registry if police say they have reasonable grounds to believe they're being used for criminal activity."

    Plod can't nick other bits of my property on "reasonable suspicion", why should they be allowed to steal domain names?

    If convicted of a crime where the domain name is pertinent - maybe, "reasonable" suspicion? fuck off.

  13. Graham Marsden

    "if police say...

    "...they have reasonable grounds to believe they're being used for criminal activity"

    Hmm, so what about those pesky things called "Evidence" and "Proof"? Show us those and we'll all say "yes, go ahead", but not simply "we believe..." because that is open to abuse (or vindictiveness or simple stupidity)

  14. Christoph

    What a terrible idea

    The police have repeatedly and clearly demonstrated that they cannot be trusted with such powers and that if they have them they *will* misuse them.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rules should be easy...

    Police are allowed to seize property. They need to have a good reason to do so. There are laws in place for this. It should be the same deal for a website. If there's something obviously illegal about it, then it shouldn't be too difficult to get a warrant, now should it?

    1. Libertarian


      Magistrates are largely less competent than plods and warrants are merely rubber-stamped for the most part. In all instances warrants should only be issued by High Court Masters or more senior judges - and then only on the basis of unimpeachable prima facie evidence.

    2. Christoph

      More than just a warrant

      To close someone's business down, they should at least have a right of reply. What is the desperate rush that can't wait long enough for them to have their say?

      If you want an example of what could go wrong when a judge doesn't understand the net, look at the Finnish judge who issued an order handing over the *entire* membership database to the Scientologists because one person had been posting material they claimed was copyright. Fortunately the police had more sense when the appalling consequences of enforcing that order were explained to them.

  16. Anteaus

    Reasonable, provided a warrant is required

    ..and adequate evidence having to be put on the table, but not without.

    For examples of why this would otherwise be bad, you only have to look-at the 'vigilante justice' meted-out by DNSBL operators.

    We've seen too many examples of police departments having very poor understanding of IT, and that opens the door to all kinds of exploits to get rival sites shut-down, by way of exploiting that lack of understanding.

  17. JimC

    Guys I think...

    You'll find this is more about spam domains and than it is about closing down ebay...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      JimC I think...

      You'll find it will be very little to do with and mostly to do with small, personal websites that speak out against companies, who then throw hissy fits to the police and have them close the sites down. It will be the same abuse as has been proven time and time again with the Terrorism Act:

      And hundreds more woeful stories from far beyond one IT news site...

      If you honestly think the Police are mature enough to act responsibly, you're either incredibly naive or in denial about their track record in similar areas.

      Here's a few likely real-world scenarios:

      Some anorak sets up a fan website about a radio presenter and includes a messageboard or guestbook. Negative comments get posted about the presenter, and the large media group who own the station contact the police and lie/exaggerate that the website contains threats against their presenter, libel, incitement to violence, etc, when all it contains are messages from a few anoraks saying the presenter is rubbish and they "wish they'd go jump off a cliff" or some other inconsequential bit of figurative speech. The police jump to it and promptly swat the little guy, doffing their cap to the large media company and calling them 'sir' in the process. The little guy could take legal action but probably won't because they're a little guy up against the police pulling rank with large companies.

      A student website set up to share tips and help with student life gets inexplicably shut down during some violent student protests, with the police claiming it was aiding and abetting organised trouble makers in planning their riots, despite no evidence to support that. Some retarded copper searched Google for "student protests meet up", saw the website in the first page of the results (because Google doesn't always return the most relevant of web pages, you know?) and just mindlessly closed it down.

      Some small guy sets up a website about banks in the light of the financial crisis, posting truthful facts about what the banks have been up to and how inept they still are. The banks don't like the potential negative PR of this site so they contact the police with another hissy fit about how this 'illegal' website run by an anarchist trouble maker who only wants to cause chaos is publishing inaccurate, miss-informative and libellous lies about the poor innocent banking industry. Guess what the police do? Yes sir, at once sir, I'll get onto it right now sir... And *poof* The website vanished!

      Meanwhile, the site that tells you how to build bombs, make your own drugs or contains kiddy pics is safely resident on a dot-com or dot-cx

      Good job saynoto0870 is a dot-com otherwise I can imagine the police would get flooded by heavy-handed companies reporting everything from theft to fraud to "the illegal hacking of, and unauthorised access to, our communications network" in order to try and get it shut down so that they can keep milking premium rate phone revenue streams from their 'valued' customers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Truth is stranger than fiction

        Here's another real world example - What about US Homeland Security mindlessly shutting down 84,000 websites that shouldn't have been touched?

        If an organisation like that doesn't have the brains or the aptitude to realise isn't a professional gender reassignment service, what possible hope can anyone who's never been sectioned have in the UK police to do any better?

        Have a website about public speaking with tips on how to improve your oral skills? Own a Berkshire community site on which a forum member has boasted about taking their young niece up Cock Alley to let her ride a pony for the first time on Tutts Clump? Be afraid. Be very afraid! The bobbies on bicycles are coming for you, with "two by two" being a veiled reference to their IQs!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I wouldnt be against the idea, but like most people here I couldnt trust the police to do their job.

    It wouldnt be long before they started abusing their power or just be completely inept at doing it.

    Also they say "criminal activity" but government with the help of the police, keep moving those goal posts as well.

    One minute it be closing down "" the next it will be "" or something along those lines.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    On expired domain "tasting"

    "Should a registrar *or their corrupt chums* be able to take control of a registrant's domain name when it has expired *or on any unregistered domain that someone has just looked up* and monetize or ‘taste’ the traffic on the domain name *in order to extort money from the possibly forgetful registrant or person looking to register a domain*? Who is affected by this practice and is it detrimental to registrants and other stakeholders *(such as the corrupt chums of the registrar)*?"

    There you go: edited to reflect existing practice, at least as far as the .com/.net/.org registrars are concerned.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    I was of the belief...

    ...that in England you are innocent until proven guilty. Oh I see... the plan is to whittle our rights away gradually.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Where on earth you ever get that idea? Preposterous.

  21. Matthew Collier
    Thumb Up

    Everyone who has commented on here...

    ...clearly has an opinion, so, go tell Nominet what it is! I have (or forever hold your peace ;) )

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    No No and thrice No

    Taking down a website means potentially depriving someone of their business or their means of interacting with society. It is a serious damaging action to take and so should only be done if the site is demonstrably illegal. That means that the police should be obliged to provide evidence and go through a legal process to achieve their objective. Anything less, and they risk becoming as much a problem as the DDoSers of the world.

  23. PT

    Thin end ...

    Thin end of a very thick wedge. Smooth and greasy, slips in easy. Then in a few years time, when we all want to gather in Trafalgar Square to protest (for example) going to war with Iran, we'll find out what they really want this power for.

  24. Tom Chiverton 1 Silver badge

    Stop posting here

    Stop posting here, and send them an email instead :

    "If you have any comments on this issue please email, and include the title, "Dealing with domain names used in connection with criminal activity" in the subject line. "

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      Thanks, done it.

  25. maclovinz

    I've got a few...


    THOSE can be shut down!

  26. David 45

    Should be a judge's decision.

    Give everything to Judge Birss. He seems to be making an admirable job of handling the ACS:Law fiasco. A man to be trusted, going by what I have read.

  27. TeeCee Gold badge

    Of course they should be allowed.

    Make it as easy as possible for 'em too.

    It'll give 'em something to be getting on with that'll make 'em feel like they're "doing something about it" (whatever "it" is this week), without actually having any significant effect on teh intahtubes at all.

    Of course, a few people might need to move to a domain name outside the aegis of Nominet, but that's a trivial price to pay for keeping the plod busily barking up the wrong tree......

  28. Clyde

    email Nominet

    Done - email sent to Nominet.

    Rule of law must apply.

  29. ShaggyDoggy


    should have a great time

    Dear Mr Plod

    could you please shut down because there's omething on there I don't like


    J. Sainsbury

  30. The Commenter formally known as Matt

    My Suggestion

    From what I can make out we are talking about suspension of domains, not giving them to the police, yes the current suggestion is totally unacceptable, but this is a suggestion from SOCA.

    I have just submitted the following as my suggestion:

    I believe the Nominet T&Cs should clearly require that the site behind the domain must abide by UK law.

    A complaint, from law enforcement or individual *could* (depending on the nature of complaint) be considered grounds for Nominet to ask the registrar to begin investigation, or allow complainant to appeal a registrar's decision.

    A request from the police / law enforcement agencies / individuals, without a court order, is never anywhere near enough grounds for immediate suspension.

    Upon initiation of an investigation Nominet or the Registrar should be required to contact the domain owner (via supplied who-is data) if they wish to protest the suspension (Giving reasonable time to reply). Negative or No reply could be considered grounds for a 'fast track suspension' (although not admission of guilt), a protest should begin investigations.

    Investigations must be seen to be independent, transparent and fair, resistant to undue political interference.

    If a domain owner has one domain suspended this does not automatically mean all domains owned are suspended, nor should it be a way to fast track other domains owned in the future, however the initial complaint could apply to several domains (to be considered by investigation)

    Whatever the path to a suspension safeguards against abuse are an absolute necessity, as it is highly likely this process will be abused, either for competitive advantage, personal grievance/belief or plain old incompetence.

  31. Is it me?

    Who else is there

    Most serious criminal web sites don't actually ever appear on the web as we know it, and are seriously difficult to find.

    Mostly those that do are fraud related, pirate, or "Subversive". I doubt many of use would question the first, the second the majority would be ok with, but the last, well what is subversive, who defines that. The Police and Judiciary are notoriously conservative in their application of the law here, and will err on the side of extreme caution. To be fair, they only reflect the attitudes of the chattering classes, the red top readers, who are not stunningly liberal and represent the majority of our society. But who else would you want doing this, yes a court order, but outside of this you would be forced down the Quango route, and that would be staffed with, well guess.

    PS I hadn't forgotten Sex, but then those sites could be categorised in the same way.

  32. Greg Adams 2

    What's the point?

    If you shut down their site without prosecuting them, they'll just set up another site. The web site can then be shut down as a result of conviction.

  33. DominicSayers
    Big Brother

    1200 .uk domains already seized

    What everybody seems to have missed is that the police have *already* seized more than 1200 .uk domains with the cooperation of Nominet and other registrars. See here [PDF]

    What SOCA are now asking for is that Nominet be *contractually obliged* to do this at their say-so.

    So the current voluntary system is clearly not enough for them. Why? Because currently a registrar can refuse to comply if they believe the request is mistaken or politically motivated.

    SOCA wants full control. With no judicial oversight. Or any mechanism for appeal.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Nominet ass covering

      There is nothing voluntary about this at all. The Old Bill point out dodgy websites - Nominet refuse to take down the infrastructure - Plod prosecutes Nominet for Aiding and abetting criminal actions. The consultation is nothing more than Nominet covering their own backs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: 1200 .uk domains already seized

      Presumably those were phishing sites, whose clear and only purpose is to extract information or payment from victims by fraud, apart from any that might have been set up by whitehats for research, but how are they going to prove that without a load of hassle? And what if someone sets up a satirical site that /looks/ like a phishing site? It's already getting complicated even in what should be the most clear cut of cases, and they want to formalise the practice with an agreement that would presumably lead to more and faster takedowns, with more scope for getting it wrong.

      It's like stop-and-search - how many lads with a screwdriver and a chisel in their pocket have had a load of hassle when they were just going to hang a door? Sure, some of them weren't so innocent, but the police shouldn't be making these speculative judgements and acting on them, they should be reporting findings to the CPS, who decide whether to proceed to the courts, and it's the courts that should decide on what action to take. A whole heap of paper pushing and a world away from a clip round the ear from the village bobby, it's a situation resulting from police corruption, incompetence and abuse of power so they'd have only themselves to blame. But still they dream about Judge Dredd.

  34. This post has been deleted by its author

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    I see this...

    MP: "I don't like this website on democracy, have it shut down."

  36. Roger Mew

    Police what!!

    Now let me see, the people that are driving arond on illegal spec tyres for certain vehicles, The same group that are supposed to survey the Motorway traffic laws but do not know them, erm, the same people that had filth on their computers in Suffolk, these people, these arrogant nincompoops that drive recklessly being given carte blanche to shut down a site.

    Oh yes, a good jolly that, get on an aeroplane fly out to Malaya or perhaps China to shut down something they do not even understand. Oh come on this has been mooted by another twit that also does not understand.

    Someone, a hacker, needs to post a picture of someone having a hand shandy on the Metropolitan police home web page!!!

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