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U.S. Gov’t shuts down 84,000+ sub-domains … by accident

Posted by Bradley Wint on 17/02/2011

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The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has once again boasted about seizing domains in an effort to curb various Internet crimes, this time in the child pornography department. What they did not mention was that they accidentally seized an innocent domain, essentially redirecting persons viewing the 84,000 hosted sub-domains to a warning message.

The domain which is managed by FreeDNS was seized by mistake and redirected to one of ICE’s servers, warning viewers that the site was involved in child pornographic activity. It is not clear as to why the entire domain was shut down, but it is believed that one of the 84,000 sites may have been hosting pornographic content. However it does not warrant taking out the entire domain just for one bad sub-domain hosted site.

The folks at FreeDNS were infuriated about the situation and quickly jumped on ICE’s back demanding that their domain be restored. After much ado, they reverted the DNS settings, but the change took 3 days before site owners saw their original web pages. Many users using the DNS service also were scarred because some used it to run their business through, and with such an image appearing, it could have broken some vital relations.

Since then, no explanation has been given by ICE as to why such a grave error occurred, but they were more than happy to mention taking down 10 domains in the effort against child pornography and other illegal content. It’s good that they have the right intentions, but they should also be accountable for their actions and implement a system to better take down domains without causing accidents like this.

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