Feeds

Kentucky reverses 141-site net casino land grab

Fried chicken state self-corrects

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Kentucky officials must return 141 gambling domain names they seized last year in a bid to block internet betting within state borders, an appeals court panel ordered on Tuesday.

The 2-1 decision by Kentucky's Court of Appeals reverses a lower-court ruling giving state officials the authority to seize some of the world's most popular gambling sites, the vast majority of which were located half a world away.

The lower-court ruling rested on Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate's highly specious finding that internet casino domain names constitute "gambling devices" that are subject to the state's anti-gambling statutes. Tuesday's decision disabused Wingate of that notion in no uncertain terms.

"Suffice it to say that given the exhaustive argument both in brief and oral form as to the nature of an internet domain name, it stretches credulity to conclude that a series of numbers, or internet address, can be said to constitute a machine or any mechanical or other device ... designed and manufactured primarily for use in connection with gambling," they stated. "We are thus convinced that the trial court clearly erred in concluding that the domain names can be construed to be gambling devices subject to forfeiture under" Kentucky law.

Representatives from Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear's office didn't return calls requesting comment.

The seizure was commenced by Michael Brown, Kentucky's Justice and Public Safety secretary, who filed a lawsuit under seal in August. At a secret hearing that was closed to the defendants, Wingate in September issued an order directing registrars of absolutepoker.com, ultimatebet.com, and 139 other domain names to transfer ownership to Kentucky officials.

Shortly after the order was issued, whois records for many of the domains showed they were the property of Kentucky. For reasons that still are not clear, the handful of addresses we've checked since then appeared to have reverted back to their rightful owner. It's not clear who made the changes or why they were made.

The reversal is a victory for civil-liberties advocates who argued that the laws of an individual state shouldn't trump the rights of others to access sites that are perfectly legal elsewhere. In friend-of-the-court briefs filed in November, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky argued the decision would pave the way for Kentucky to take control of any domain name if it pointed to sites that were deemed illegal in that state.

And it's not too much of a stretch to envision other states with strong opinions, say Utah, or even countries, perhaps China or North Korea, to similarly commandeer entire sites they deem to violate their laws.

It's always breath-taking when a court with little understanding of the internet makes a decision that proves to the rest of the world just how out-of-step they are with today's changing world. A federal judge in San Francisco did something similar last year, when he ordered Wikileaks to be shut down. Fortunately, the errors of these decisions tend to become so obvious over time that they eventually have to be overturned. And that's a good thing. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
'Internet Freedom Panel' to keep web overlord ICANN out of Russian hands – new proposal
Come back with our internet! cries Republican drawing up bill
What a Mesa: Apple vows to re-use titsup GT sapphire glass plant
Commits to American manufacturing ... of secret tech
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.