Secret Service Seizes JotForm.com, Nuking Millions of Online Forms
(WIRED) Jotform.com, the domain name of a business providing hosting for online forms, has been seized by the Secret Service, essentially gutting the company’s business.
The Wednesday seizure of JotForm.com, with the assistance of the domain names’s registrar, GoDaddy, disabled about 2 million jotform.com forms, said Aytekin Tank, the site’s founder. The embeddable forms are hosted by the company and let sites quickly put up contact and sign-up forms online.
GoDaddy told Wired it took the site down at the request of law enforcement.
Tank has informed its “hundreds of thousands of users” in a blog post to alter their form URLs to jotform.net, which should revive a customer’s hosted forms.
“They have disabled the DNS without any prior notice or request,” Tank said of GoDaddy. “They have told us the domain name was suspended as part of an ongoing law enforcement investigation.”
An a Wednesday e-mail to Tank from GoDaddy’s Spam and Abuse Department, which Tank forwarded to Wired on Thursday, GoDaddy referred Tank to the Secret Service.
The agency did not immediately respond to Wired’s request for comment.
“But, we can tell you in general terms, at the specific request of law enforcement, GoDaddy sometimes takes action to prevent further harm being caused by a website hosted on our servers,” Butler wrote. “This would include things like sites engaged in phishing, malware installation, securities fraud, and so on.”
The seizure came two weeks after the Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced it had seized 307 domains allegedly engaged in unauthorized live sports streaming and for selling fake professional sports merchandise.
Tank speculated in a Hacker News forum that the investigation surrounds an e-mail phishing program being run by a customer using a hosted JotForm form.
“Our guess is that this is probably about a phishing form. We take phishing very seriously. Our Bayesian phishing filter has suspended 65,000 accounts last year,” he said.
On the New York company’s blog, he said, “We have 2 million user-generated forms. It is not possible for us to manually review all forms. This can happen to any website that allows user-generated content.”
JotForm is hardly alone in the business of online forms. Google Docs allows sites to embed forms, and SurveyMonkey recently bought Jotform competitor WuFoo last April for $35 million.
Techdirt’s Mike Masnick adequately sums up the concerns about this seizure.
“Even if the forms were being used for some illegal purpose,” Masnick said, “I still can’t fathom a reason why it should lead to everyone else getting censored and an internet startup facing a massive hardship wherein tons of users have had their service disrupted with millions of useful forms being suddenly disappeared.”