By Burke Hansen | TheRegister.co.uk
Let’s see this Treasury Department list again… Aiman Al-Zawahiri….Radovan Karadzic….Alexander Lukashenko…. ah, Tour & Marketing International.
Steven Marshall, the owner of T&M and affiliated websites such as Cuba-Hemingway.com, Cuba-OldHavana.com, and CubanCulture.com, is a British travel agent with an interest in Cuban culture who sells tours to Cuba to European tourists. Unfortunately for Mr. Marshall, the American government has little sympathy for those who don’t share its hardline views of the Caribbean nation. Imagine his surprise when he woke up one day and rubbed his eyes clear - unbeknown to him, his company had been blacklisted by the American government, and his hosting company Enom had shut down all his websites.
The American government’s obsession with all things Castro has led to some of the most restrictive trade sanctions in the world. Since 1963, the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) - an arm of the Treasury Department that enforces asset forfeiture decrees against international drug king pins, terrorists and assorted political undesirables - has robustly asserted its authority to seize assets of Americans or American companies that in any way, shape or form provide hard currency to the Castro regime.
But as the New York Times reported yesterday, the Treasury Department is taking an even more expansive view of its jurisdiction over the Cuban embargo, if the T&M case is indicative of things to come.
The case also threatens to renew lingering concerns in the internet community over continued American dominance of the internet. Marshall is a British citizen living in Spain. He sells tours to tourists in Europe, which imposes no restrictions on travel to Cuba. His servers were located in the Caribbean.
His only proven ties to the United States were domain registrations through ICANN-approved registrar Enom and his use of the .com top level domain, whose registry is, for all intents and purposes, owned by Verisign, an American company with close ties to the American government. The move by OFAC has troubled American experts on internet law. Should registration through an American registrar or registry really justify American jurisdiction and the forfeiture of websites which are not even hosted on American shores?
Pierre Boileau, come out, come out, wherever you are