Thursday, April 23, 2020

Justice Department works with web hosts and domain registrars to shut down sites illegally exploiting coronavirus crisis with various fraud schemes (but a bit like FOSTA? like post-Charlottesville?)


The US Department of Justice has reported that it has worked with web hosting companies and domain name registrars to shut down sites commit fraud related to COVOD-19. Most of these efforts involved phishing activities or offering various kinds of miracle cures or preventatives against the novel coronavirus SARS-Cov2.  Some sites tried to collect personal information illegally or install malware.
  
Most legitimate web hosting companies prohibit running “online pharmacies as part of their terms of service.

Section 230 would not protect hosts (or social media platforms) if they know or are told that certain users or customers are actually doing something breaking federal law. This is a bit parallel to what might happen with FOSTA (Backpage).

  
The Washington Post has more details in a story by Joseph Marks.   The FBI is particularly wary of sites that try to scam stimulus relief payments.  Other sites have posed as legitimate charities and tried to collect donations.
  
This report does remind me of increased takedowns of domains by private companies for content related to white supremacy shortly after Charlottesville.
   
I found a YouTube video promoting coronavirus domain name flipping for profit, rather shocking, probably against YT’s rules (especially after the DOJ announcement April 22).  But it does note that domain names on this problem have been around since 2011, rather odd (SARS happened in 2003). What did people overseas (like in China) know years ago?

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