SOPA Version 2: JotForm Domain Seized Without Due Process

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jotform-shutdown-without-warningOn Wednesday, the Secret Service seized the domain and left hundreds of thousands of websites with “broken” forms. Although it was the Secret Service that initiated the investigation, it was Go Daddy (JotForm’s domain registrar) that suspended the domain without warning.

JotForm, which provides a WYSIWYG web form creator and hosting for the forms, is a company that provides embeddable forms for approximately 500,000 users worldwide. Since the 500,000 users have created in excess of 2 million user-generated forms, it is not practical for the company to manually review each form prior to publication. After the domain was seized without warning or reason, Aytekin Tank, JotForm’s co-founder, said the following regarding the dangers of holding a company accountable for user-generated content:

“Many people on the comments assumed the content was posted by us. This can happen to any site that allows public to post content. SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) may not have passed, but what happened shows that it is already being practiced. All they have to do is to ask Go Daddy to take a site down.”

Although JotForm says it “fully cooperated” with authorities, the Secret Service refused to provide the company with any information related to the investigation or guidance on how they could prevent similar occurrences in the future. Aytekin, who appears relieved that the issue has been corrected, said the following of his frustrations with the lack of communication throughout the process:

“We will probably never find out the reason for the suspension. It has been a very difficult two days for both our users and for us. So, I hope this is the end.”

Even though SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) did not pass, the JotForm seizure is one example of how the government working with a domain registrar/host can shut down a web-based business without due process.

Do you feel that the government and registrar should be able to shut down a website without due process in order to protect consumers or should website owners be given due process?

[Sources Include: CNet, Wired, & Domain Name Wire]

David Angotti

David Angotti

After successfully founding and exiting an educational startup in 2009, I began helping companies with business development, search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO),... Read Full Bio
David Angotti
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  • Slippery slope they are walking for sure… At least with the MegaUpload take down there was somewhat of a reason. This I do not get.

  • Regardless of the what the facts may have been.. I believe if SOPA was stopped or at least that is what it seems like it.. the secret service should have not gotten involved. I am thought and am under the impression that the secret service was designed to protect the president of the United States. Am I wrong on this issue?? So, if the secret service got involved by requesting the registrar of JotForm to shut the site down, then wouldn’t you think they are getting into an area where they could highly get criticized for their practices? In my opinion the secret service should not even put their noses in these type of cases, if JotForm did commit a wrong it is not the secret services job to make that determination. I believe if JotForm did commit some type of wrong, they should have been contacted or the proper protocol should have been followed.

    I don’t understand how a company that provides an online software to assist internet users to create online forms be in violation of SOPA! If memory serves me right wasn’t SOPA designed to stop piracy in some form? JotForm is in no violation, users create their own content and generate their own forms based on information the internet users provide to JotForm.. I honestly do not see any form of violation JotForm could be in! Am I wrong on this?


  • Bill

    Yeh this was not fun to go through.

    I had to change a bunch of my sites to a new Jotform Domain.

    I want to applaud the team at JotForm as they were very transparent and helpful!

    I have just received an email from them saying the Suspension has been lifted and the site is back online.

    Thanks for the create customer care JotForm team.


  • This is the latest example of why people are so opposed to SOPA and its related principles. They’re not necessarily pirates, they just don’t want a single body to determine what is and is not allowed. This seizure doesn’t represent public opinion in the slightest. In fact, I’m not sure how the seizure was justified. Any tool that allows someone to make use of a plugin or third party service could be at risk, meaning you can say goodbye to a fair chunk of the WordPress plugin library.

    In answer to the question, unless the site is explicitly promoting piracy (see The Pirate Bay back when they published all of their ‘you’ll never catch us’ letters) then surely the service provider or site owner should have a chance to plead their case, especially when such a speedy shutdown affects hundreds of thousands of other legitimate businesses.

  • Alan Bleiweiss

    Secret Service, FBI, ICE, Homeland Security… They’re doing whatever they want any way they want, with complete disregard for the core principles this country was founded upon. They’ve gotten way out of hand with too much power and the ability to stick everything under the sun into whatever box they want to pretend justifies their illegal actions. I pray this country wakes up and elected officials get out of their own corrupt ways at some point to restore a just legal system.