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21 November, 2008

Domain name seizures in Kentucky overturned

A judge in Kentucky in the United States of America earns Paranoids On-Line's 

...and the winner is!
Thomas D. Wingate 
Judge of the Franklin Circuit Court
Commonwealth of Kentucky

A ridiculous state court order in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, USA, seizing 141 domain names because they were gambling sites that were illegal in Kentucky was overturned on appeal.

None of the domains were registered in Kentucky; however, the lower court thought that did not matter because the sites could be reached from Kentucky. Hence, the very dumb judge considered them to be Kentucky businesses that he could regulate! Hmm... Does that mean if I can call a New York company from my phone in Rhode Island, that the state of Rhode Island has jurisdiction over that New York company? What makes this even worse is the fact it was the Commonwealth of Kentucky government that made this argument to the judge!

The Commonwealth did not want people in its jurisdiction to play poker over the Internet for money, so it sought to seize the domains of the gambling companies anywhere in the world.  To grant a government that power is too great a risk, but judge Wingate did not listen to reason.

The obviously uneducated and demagogue-like judge acceded to the Commonwealth's over-reach and thus applied local law to out of state enterprises (some out of the country enterprises). In doing so, the court essentially tried to assert authority over the entire world! (Can you imagine a world ruled by Kentucky? The horror!)

If allowed to stand, this ruling would be very dangerous to freedom because it would mean any repressive regime in the world could assert its authority over any business in the world if a person living in the jurisdiction of that repressive regime could access the business over the Internet. Only a moron would have thought this just. Thank the gods of both heaven and hell and everywhere in between the appellate court listened to reason. 

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU both filed amicus briefs in the matter against the lower court ruling.

See the Electronic Frontier Foudation's press release HERE.

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