If the state of Kentucky gets its way, then you may someday have to hand over all your domain names to the government. According to information originally distributed by the Associated Press and covered at Business Week Online, an appeals court consisting of three judges will decide whether or not a state can seized a web site domain name to prevent online gambling within state borders, even if it means cutting the rest of the world off from the site. Bear in mind that all of the websites and domain names in question in the case are hosted outside of the state of Kentucky – in fact all 141 of the sites in question have their businesses running outside the United States. The companies are licensed and regulated in the countries that they have their businesses in.
So what is the root cause of this action in Kentucky? According to published reports, ”Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate ruled in October that the state’s lawsuit seeking to block Kentuckians’ access to more than 140 online casinos could go forward. Judge Wingate also ruled that he planned to hold a hearing about whether the state could seize the web sites.” It appears that Kentucky’s estimated 13,000 citizens who currently gamble online at the sites are being bilked by the outside entities. Eric Lycan, who represents the Kentucky Justice Cabinet is quoted as saying the online gambling business is a, ”massive, global, offshore criminal enterprise” that receives more than 80 percent of its revenue from the United States.
Now whether or not a business web hosting company feels that a domain can be confiscated by the government, the company must protect itself against business disruption or prosecution for simply hosting a domain or website that the government finds objectionable. So how does a web host protect itself and the customer at the same time? It is commonly done through the stated ”Terms and Conditions” contract agreed to by customers upon signing up. With the help of business hosting company 34SP.com, PingZine offers this example of language that makes up part of the ‘Acceptable Use Policy’: ”The Customer acknowledges that they are responsible for all actions with their account and Services provided by 34SP.com. Whilst it is not the intention of 34SP.com to monitor, control or otherwise effect any Services or content of on-line communications, 34SP.com reserve the right to edit, remove or otherwise deal with content that in their sole discretion are or may be in breach of this policy or otherwise harmful or offensive, regardless of the standard or subject matter. This policy is designed to assist in the protection and preservation of Services to the Customer and other 34SP.com customers and other Internet users from improper and/or illegally related activity.”
These statements can protect a business web host from sharing any blame when a customer takes on questionable business activity. If you are searching for web hosting, look for this type of language in the ”Terms and Conditions” document of your web host. If you run a web hosting company, be sure that your ”Terms and Conditions” include language that limits your liability in the event that the government (or anyone else) finds that the business activity of one or more customers is dubious.
This content was written by Derek Vaughan exclusively for PingZine.