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US Homeland Security mistakenly takes down 84,000 websites

Just the tip of the iceberg
Thu Feb 17 2011, 16:04

US AUTHORITIES mistakenly took down 84,000 websites as part of its Operation Save the Children campaign.

You can't make this stuff up.

The US Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Cyber Crimes Center took control of a number of domains as part of its campaign against child pornography. While it was taking down domains it suspected of participating in the dissemination of child pornography, it took down legitmate web hosting outfit hosts 84,000 subdomains, all of which were knocked offline as part of ICE's action. The websites that went down were replaced with a placeholder image informing visitors that the domain name had been seized by the Feds.

It took three days before some of the subdomains were re-enabled and the placeholder image was removed.

Although the websites hosted at are returning to normal service there are many irate users. One affected website owner told Torrentfreak, "At first, the legitimacy of the alerts seems to be questionable - after all, what reputable agency would display their warning in a fancily formatted image referenced by the underlying HTML? I wouldn't expect to see that."

While no one would argue against ICE's actions of taking down websites that are involved with child pornography, such mistakes are certainly embarrassing and have the potential to cause real harm to non-criminal online services.

We must hope that ICE won't make similar mistakes and let the bad guys get away while catching innocents in friendly fire. µ


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