The Most Effective Anti-Terrorism Law EVER

By Eric Goldman

I really don’t understand the way legislators think. The latest example of proposed laws that make me wonder “is that really necessary?”: NY A5026/S631 (search here; apparently this law was also introduced in 2006 but died in committee). The bill’s main operative provision proposes:

A person is guilty of criminal sale of an internet domain name to a terrorist group when he or she knowingly sells or provides without charge an internet domain name to any organization included on the list of organizations engaged in terrorist activities or who pose a terrorist threat compiled, maintained and updated by the state office of homeland security pursuant to paragraph (t) of subdivision two of section seven hundred nine of the executive law. Criminal sale of an internet domain name to a terrorist group is a class A misdemeanor.

Are they serious? Do the sponsoring NY legislators actually think they will single-handedly stop terrorism by criminalizing domain name sales? The law doesn’t distinguish between individual sellers and retail registrars, so I wonder if registrars have the requisite scienter through automated processing of orders. If the law doesn’t restrict registrar sales, then what exactly does it do? (presumably, govern the random one-off resale?) But even if it restricts registrars, I wonder if terrorist groups will think to register the domain name under a different name

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