Internet Politics

US Authorities Seize Foreign Domain

Via easyDNS, The Domains reports on a foreign gambling domain being seized in the US:

The indictment focuses on the movement of funds from accounts outside the U.S., in Switzerland, England, Malta, and Canada, and the hiring of media resellers and advertisers to promote Internet gambling.

To make that clear: A federal warrant was issued and a foreign company dealing with a domain registrar in Canada was taken off the internet because the company violated the state law of Maryland.

DNS will eventually be succeeded. This is just pushing for it to happen sooner than later. The next system will not be so centralized, and certainly not be based in the US.

It’s also worth noting the Dept. of Justice yet again seems to violate federal law by ignoring Section 508 in this take-down. The blatant disregard for federal law by the Dept. of Justice is ironic. Sad considering the $0 cost to fix it. It’s safe to say it’s not an “oversight” as it’s got presence to the point of it’s own website.

In The News Politics Web Development

F.B.I. Violating Section 508?

Section 508 is familiar to many in IT. For those who don’t know it, Wikipedia explains it best:

In 1998 the US Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. § 794d), agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to the access available to others.

The F.B.I however decided it’s above this law and decided to replace the shutdown pages for a bunch of gambling sites they shut down with the following HTML (example link):

<img src="banner7.jpg"/>

I’ve noticed this several times over the years, so this seems to be a chronic problem nobody is calling them out on.

The image (linked locally for posterity) contains the following text below the FBI and DOJ seal’s:

This domain name has been seized by the F.B.I pursuant to an Arrest Warrant in Rem obtained by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and issued by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Conducting, financing, managing, supervising, directing, or owning all or part of an illegal gambling business is a federal crime (18 U.S.C § 1955)

For persons engaged in the business of betting or wagering, it is also a federal crime to knowingly accept, in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful Internet gambling, credit, electronic fund transfers, or checks. (31 U.S.C §§ 5363 & 5366)

Violation of these laws carry criminal penalties of up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine up to $250,000.

Properties, including domain names, used in violation of the provisions of 18 U.S.C 1955 or involved in money laundering transactions are subject to forfeiture to the United States.
(18 U.S.C. §§ 981 & 1955(d))

To my knowledge, this is a direct violation of Section 508. There are provisions for when Section 508 compliance creates an undue burden, however this could be remedied in under 5 minutes by using text rather than an image. It’s a clear violation. Any federal IT employee would know about this. Civilian IT professionals know about Section 508. The seals could have been one image with an alt tag containing the text “FBI/DOJ Seals” and the above text in HTML. This is trivial. I did half the work just transcribing it up above. I have no doubt the individual who put it together was familiar with Section 508.

In a world where we web developers make efforts to bring information to the disabled and make the internet easily accessible to those with disabilities, this is pretty sad and a real step backwards. The rest of the Internet has been moving forward to making things accessible via initiatives like WAI-ARIA. Target had to settle a lawsuit for $6 million for failing to make a much more complex site ADA compliant. Since financial settlement with the FBI would be very unlikely this gets ignored by NFB and others, but I don’t think it should be.