Kentucky declares war on the Internet

Anti-gambling extremists in Kentucky, led by Gov. Steve Beshear, have convinced a myopic local judge to order 141 domain names -- including globally popular sites such as fulltiltpoker.com and pokerstars.com -- seized from their rightful owners and transferred to state control.

In China, perhaps. In America? Never thought I'd see the day, even though I live in a state, Massachusetts, where the governor has threatened to jail online poker players.

This won't stand, you say? I'll say the same, although at least some of the domain names have apparently been transferred already by weak-kneed registrars.

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate scheduled a hearing for this afternoon to determine whether a total of 141 domain names -- such as fulltiltpoker.com and pokerstars.com -- should be forfeited to the state.

After the suit was filed, Wingate issued an order of seizure, requiring that the domain names be transferred to the state.

Operators of those sites can object to the transfer, and that is what is expected to happen during today's hearing. Wingate will then decide whether the sites must be forfeited or if the operators can retain control.

You can read Gov. Beshear's hysterical -- and I do mean hysterical, as in both laughable and overwrought -- rationale for his property seizures and unilateral imposition of Kentucky state authority on the rest of us here. And you can read the judge's decision here (I'm not wasting my time).

The slippery slope argument gets abused, yes, but never could it be more applicable than in this case. If a single state -- never mind a nation, but a single state -- can be allowed to seize control of Internet sites based on nothing more than their parochial concerns and misguided paternalism, well, the Internet stands in far greater danger of collapse today than does the United States economy.

(Update: Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't they allow wagering on horse races in Kentucky? And have a state lottery? Blowhard hypocrites, the whole bunch of them.)

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