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FBI Seizes Servers, Takes Down Web Sites in Raid

By Adam Ramirez on June 28, 2011 6:47 AM

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.

It's obviously important for law enforcement officials to do their best to combat Cyber criminals. But is it possible that their efforts actually can cause harm by bringing down innocent Web sites in certain instances?


The FBI seized certain web servers as part of a raid, which caused several websites to go offline, including the sites of publisher Curbed Network, according to The New York Times. The raid apparently occurred late at night at as a hosting facility in Virginia utilized by DigitalOne, a company based in Switzerland. DigitalOne did not have any employees on the premises when the raid happened.

DigitalOne, reportedly, in an email to a client, disclaimed being the cause of the problem, and pointed the finger at the FBI. DigitalOne stated that while the FBI supposedly was focusing on one of its clients, the FBI nevertheless had seized servers that were utilized by many of its clients.

An unidentified government source apparently reported that the FBI was investigating the Lulz Security group as well as any associated hackers, and was working with the CIA and cybercrime European officials as part of this mission.

Various sites of the Curbed Network, which include restaurant and real estate blogs, reportedly were unavailable for a certain period of time. The FBI raid also apparently impacted a server utilized by Instapaper, a site that saves articles for later review.

Assuming that a legitimate and innocent Web site is brought down as part of law enforcement efforts, and that Web site suffers business interruption and resulting lost revenues, can the company to whom that site belongs seeks legal redress from the governmental entity behind the law enforcement activities? It will be interesting to see if such losses further occur and if such claims are made.

Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP ( where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. His Web site is and he can be reached at To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please send an email to him with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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