Pirate Party sails to Bodog chief’s defence

The Pirate Party of Canada yesterday issued a statement condemning the indictment of Bodog.com founder Calvin Ayre and fellow operators of the gambling site shutdown by United States authorities earlier this week.

Calling Ayre and his colleagues “upright and law abiding citizens of their country” the Pirate Party also warned the Canadian government against “ceding Canadian sovereignty over its own citizens’ online activities.” Such an action could lead to extradition of Ayre and company, the party said.

Saskatchewan-born Ayre, 50, and  Bodog associates James Philip, David Ferguson and Derrick Maloney were charged Tuesday by U.S. authorities with allegedly operating an online gambling site, a practice outlawed in the U.S. in 2006.

“The story of Calvin Ayre is a Canadian success story, as he built and marketed his digital services in full compliance with Canadian law,” wrote Jake Daynes, director of the Pirate Party of Canada.

“The notion that he should be extradited to face prison in the United States is tantamount to suggesting that any Canadian who writes a blog criticising the royal family of Thailand should be extradited to face prison because his blog could be read by Thai people, or that any Canadian who posts images of himself getting drunk with friends should be sent to a Saudi prison,” Daynes said.

If this logic were to be followed, then could U.S. citizens found breaking Canadian laws be extradited, he asked.

“Conversely, it may be noted that holocaust denial and bestiality pornography are bot legal actions in the United States, but illegal under Canadian law. Do we believe that we have the right to extradite American citizens for their blog posts and Web sites, and throw them in a Canadian prison,” Daynes asked.

He said the role of Canada’s extradition treaty with the U.S. is to return American criminals who have fled to Canada and to let them face justice in their own country. The treaty is also meant to deal with individuals who have committed crimes on American soil, he added.

The Bodog case could have some dire repercussions for other online Canadian companies, according to Mark Jeftovic, founder and CEO of EasyDNS Technologies Inc., a Toronto firm that provides domain hosting and registry services.

Canadian-owned Web sites with a .com, .net or .org suffix could be subject to U.S. laws simply because the registry for those domains (in the case of .com and .net, Verisign) is based on American soil, Jetkovic said.

“You could be (based) outside the U.S. and you could be minding your own business and suddenly, some attorney-general in some U.S. state could say I don’t like what’s happening here and issue a takedown order,” he said.

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