I’m in the habit of collecting examples of government attempts to control content on the Internet. Places like China or UAE provide easy pickings. There are plenty of examples from other places, but they’re usually couched in terms of voluntary filtering for “obscenity” – Australia’s latest proposal comes to mind. But this is something I didn’t expect to see:
Steve Marshall is an English travel agent. He lives in Spain, and he sells trips to Europeans who want to go to sunny places, including Cuba. In October, about 80 of his Web sites stopped working, thanks to the United States government.
The sites, in English, French and Spanish, had been online since 1998. Some, like www.cuba-hemingway.com, were literary. Others, like www.cuba-havanacity.com, discussed Cuban history and culture. Still others â€” www.ciaocuba.com and www.bonjourcuba.com â€” were purely commercial sites aimed at Italian and French tourists.
[ . . . ]
It turned out, though, that Mr. Marshallâ€™s Web sites had been put on a Treasury Department blacklist and, as a consequence, his American domain name registrar, eNom Inc., had disabled them. Mr. Marshall said eNom told him it did so after a call from the Treasury Department; the company, based in Bellevue, Wash., says it learned that the sites were on the blacklist through a blog.
So, advice to everyone on the planet: make sure what you’re talking about on the Internet doesn’t bother the U.S. Treasury Department, lest they try and shut you down.