U.S. Government Accidentally Shuts Down 84,000 Websites
Last Friday, ICE’s Cyber Crimes Center proudly seized various domain names as part of “Operation Save Our Children,” claiming the domains were involved with the distribution of child pornography. ICE managed to get a District Court judge sign a seizure warrant, then had the offending sites’ doman registries make said offending sites point to the scary banner shown above. However, for whatever reason, a mistake was made and the domain, mooo.com, of a large DNS service provider, FreeDNS, was seized, causing around 84,000 innocent subdomains to be seized as well.
Most of the 84,000 sites that were seized were personal websites, or sites of small businesses, which were obviously not particularly happy when search engine results showed that these sites were distributing child pornography. It took until Sunday for the domain seizures to be fixed, and took up to another three days for any of the wrongfully-seized sites to stop pointing toward the incriminating banner. Essentially, some unlucky folks and small businesses were wrongfully accused of distributing child pornography for six days, quite probably incorrectly damaging their reputations in the process.
A press release from the Department of Homeland Security regarding the seizures doesn’t mention their mistake, nor issues any sort of apology, but rather, solely focuses on their seizure of ten offending domains.