UK Police seek powers to close .uk Domains - gHacks Tech News

UK Police seek powers to close .uk Domains

I have mixed feelings about this, but the BBC is reporting that the police in the UK are seeking co-operation with the Internet's domain provider, Nominet, to close .uk domains that are associated with crime.

This is definitely a welcome move as Nominet currently has no obligation to close down criminal websites, but the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) wants things to change.  Not everyone is welcoming the news however.  David Harris, an IT lawyer and barrister told the BBC "In a world of online retailing, the ability for a police officer to seize any business, whether that is blocking a domain or seizing the servers - pre-conviction or certainly pre-warrant - would be a dramatic change in the relationship between the police and the Internet community."

While this is of course a very good and serious point, the move is being broadly welcomed from other quarters, so long as it comes with judicial oversight but there are some serious flaws to consider.

The most obvious is that such a move would need international agreement at government level.  At the moment criminals would just register a new domain or avoid .uk domain names altogether.  Thus the police would have no way to shut the sites down.  The second flaw is that these domains will only be able to be shut some time after they have already done damage.

It can be extremely difficult to detect criminal websites early on though online security companies do make a good job of detection.

SOCA's move is an important first step and now needs to be picked up by the British government and discussed formally at the United Nations.  Then perhaps in a few years we will be able to see Internet security firms, international law-enforcement, domain registrars and web hosting companies working together for the greater good.  This one won't be easy to thrash out however.


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  1. TORRIE U.U said on November 29, 2010 at 11:42 am

    but for 13year olds all over the world [including me? ;D]
    ’tis really boring. -.-

  2. Andysnat said on November 29, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Another strange post by this author. Should we rename the blog “The Ghacks Right Wing Propaganda Blog Dot Net?”

    Other readers have cancelled their RSS feed subscriptions. I’m seriously tempted, as I didn’t subscribe for political diatribes.

    1. kalmly said on November 29, 2010 at 4:19 pm


  3. Anatoly Nechaev said on November 29, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    So, total advertising doesn’t cover your bills?
    You decided to take money from government?

    What is this crap?

  4. Dave said on November 29, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    This smacks of a police state to me. Surely it’s not for the police to make a decision to have a website taken down? There is a little something called “due process”. The police exist to investigate crime – not to punish or make up new laws as they go along (which seems to have been the case in the recent well-publicised episodes of harassment of photographers) and I believe it should be up to a court to decide if an illegal act has taken place and act accordingly. I fail to see how the police can make a unilateral arbitrary decision about the legality (or otherwise) of a website off their own back, so to speak. Totally wrong, in my opinion.

  5. Jack said on November 29, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    In the UK, Mr Plod quite simply wants control – the kind of control that was wisely removed from their sphere when police forces were first formed. We have a judiciary and a jury system for such things, though even these are being gradually suborned.

    We’re edging ever closer to what was once anathema in this country – a national police force – via Chief Constables gatherings and nationalised databases – not to mention the ubiquitous Lodges. They won’t be satisfied until due process is eliminated and all that is required to convict someone is the word of a police officer – a situation that’s perilously close in many of our magistrates’ courts these days.

    We’ve already lost some of the most fundamental and unarguable human rights it took centuries to establish – the right to silence, the protection of double jeopardy and imprisonment without charge. All, we are told, to “prevent criminals from getting away with it”. Another perception of course may be that when those accused by the police are acquitted by their peers – that most fundamental human right – the police require the right to move the goalposts.

    And all under the noses of a population that largely doesn’t give a damn as long as X-Factor is on their screens and the Daily Fail can find another section of the population to demonise. Perhaps we simply don’t deserve any better.