No doubt you’ve been hearing a lot about WikiLeaks lately, the site that has released hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. government documents to the public. Splashed across the news around the world, WikiLeaks and its founder have been the subjects of much debate, concern, and even potential litigation. Now, there’s a new twist to the tale – the site might be losing its domain name.
BBC News reported today that EveryDNS.net, the service provider for WikiLeaks.org, has rescinded its DNS services for the site, claiming that the site has been attracting attacks that put the entire EveryDNS.net infrastructure (and the 500,000 domains it supports) at risk. This comes right on the heels of Amazon’s ending the agreement to host the WikiLeaks site due to a failure to adhere to the appropriate terms of service (essentially by not owning the rights to the classified content that is being posted).
So, what happens to a site after it loses its domain name? The domain may have been taken down, but the IP address (the raw code for the location of this information online) still allows the content to remain available. Today, WikiLeaks tweeted its IP address to followers, hoping that Internet users would still navigate to its content. Within the hour, WikiLeaks informed followers that the site had moved to a Swiss domain: WikiLeaks.ch. The site redirects to the same IP address, meaning that WikiLeaks’ entire original content is still present and accessible.
This whole kerfuffle should serve as a reminder about how essential domain names are to directing visitors to online content. However, it also educates us on how bad actors are able to cunningly maintain their content by manipulating the domain space. The Internet is a global entity and a maze of many jurisdictions. Thus, if there is a will, it seems that there is a way to keep content online.
It’s easy to see that Internet governance is incredibly complex. Check back next week for a post about how these types of incidents are able to occur, pending legislation that is intended to create a remedy, and the role of ICANN in policing this space.
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