US Seizes 30+ 'Terrorist' Iranian News Sites

John Lister's picture

The US government has seized control of domain names for more than 30 Iranian news sites it accuses of spreading misinformation. The sites themselves are still online but are now much harder to reach.

The sites were mostly used by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union, which the US Department of Justice says is working on behalf of a Iranian military group the US had formally designated a foreign terrorist organization. It said the sites were posing as news organizations but had actually "targeted the United States with disinformation campaigns and malign influence operations." (Source:

Visitors Greeted By Seizure Notice

Although the Department of Justice said it had seized the websites, that's not strictly true. Instead it has taken control of the domain names which users type in and are then redirected to the relevant web page. That avoids the need to remember and keep track of the IP number that identifies the physical location of the site.

After taking control of the domains, the US government changed the settings so that they now point to a page explaining that it had executed a seizure warrant.

Domains Managed By US Registrar

The move was possible as most of the sites had .com addresses. Although that's not a country-specific domain code, it's managed by a US organization that was legally subject to the warrant. One site had a .tv address, which is a domain code owned by the island nation of Tuvalu but operated by a US company. (Source:

In the same way as Canada has the .ca domain code and Iran has .ir, the country-specific code .us indicates a US website. However, the code isn't widely used compared the way most major US sites prefer the .com code.

The original Iranian websites remain online but until the operators get new domain names, users can now only visit them by finding the correct IP address.

What's Your Opinion?

Was the US right to make this move? Does the domain setup give the US too much control over accessibility of foreign sites? Is this a sensible part of fighting terrorism or an attack on free speech?

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ronangel1's picture

whether this is a good idea or not is not for me to say not knowing anything about it.
But all it will do is upset them which in turn will cause them to move the content of these sites and any future sites to out of the USA control and jurisdiction making it harder to control content in the future by USA.

Gurugabe's picture

Whether I like the content of those sites or not is irrelevant. The sites were not breaking any laws of the country they were created in and do not break any rules of the internet. Afterall there are plenty of sites with worse content that are allowed to remain. But, it does align with the current 1st amendment, Freedom of Op-Press-ion and of course the Freedom of the lack of speech. Someone says something that does not align with your views? Just ban them from your service. We don't have to agree with everyone on the internet, but as long as it does not imply harming someone, they have the right to say it.

AndyH's picture

This is not a freedom of speech issue. The operators of those sites are not U.S. citizens and therefore are not protected by the U.S. constitution.